Welcome to Boston Mamas Rock! – where we’re giving a voice to fabulous local mamas from all walks of life. Read on for today’s interview with Sarah Pike, a mother of one who developed a passion and appreciation for food alongside her five siblings on her parents’ organic farm. Sarah is the owner of Good Tastes Kitchen, a meal delivery & catering service.
Sarah Pike, Owner, Good Tastes Kitchen
Christine: Welcome, Sarah! You’re a mom of one and the owner of Good Tastes Kitchen, a meal delivery & catering service. Tell us about the path that led you to forming this business last year.
Sarah: I have always known I would start a business in the food industry – it was just a matter of the right time to get it started. Of course I now know there is never a perfect time, but this past year was when it made the most sense for me to take the leap. As a working mom I know firsthand how hard it is to make healthy and easy dinner choices for my family and I knew there had to be a better way to approach dinner. Thirty-minute meals are tough when a trip to the grocery store with a toddler is involved! So it was really born out of a personal need for this service, and I figured if I needed it, chances were someone else did too!
Christine: In addition to running Good Tastes, you’re also an online marketing consultant. Tell us more about this - what is your division of time like between these two work trajectories? Do you have full time child care for your toddler son?
Sarah: Yes, my background is in online marketing – so the hats are quite different! My day is really scheduled, and I try to be as efficient as possible in whatever it is that I am focusing on at the time. We do have a nanny with Ben during the week, but I try to segment my time so that I am with him in the afternoon through dinnertime, and I am back at the computer after he is asleep. Luckily my husband is an entrepreneur as well, so we spend a lot of our weeknights in our home office comparing notes! It is quite romantic.
Christine: Your nominator claimed that you make the best mac n’ cheese in Massachusetts, and that your Baja fish tacos are gaining a cult following on the North Shore. What makes these recipes so good? Do you use any unusual or unexpected ingredients? What are some other popular items over at Good Tastes?
Sarah: My approach to food is quite simple – use the best ingredients possible, and make sure that each and every item we create is something fit for Tina Turner! We create simple menu items that are appropriate for busy nights – but with an added flavor or kick that takes it beyond the ordinary. This time of year for example, our Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry has been really popular – and we infuse it with cognac & fresh herbs to make it really special. We also have gained national attention for our Mac & Cheese of the Month Club (our monthly gourmet macs now ship nationally). With flavors like Black Truffle & Pea, Brie & Fig, and Penne w/ Five Cheeses - it is not your ordinary Mac & Cheese!
Christine: Your nominator also said that you make your own organic baby food and regularly teach classes to other moms. Is this a formal part of your business? Do you have a brick and mortar location? Or do you do these classes at your home or at the homes of clients?
Sarah: I have taught these classes to local Mothers Clubs as a way to expose new moms to Good Tastes and to also show how easy it can be to make baby food at home. I am committed to helping people learn how to make better food choices – and that it doesn’t have to be complicated or impossible to fit into our busy lives. The educational aspect of the business is something I plan on growing substantially.
Currently we do not have a brick and mortar location, but we are working on it!
Christine: I’m one of seven and was so interested to learn that you are one of six children. Where are you in the birth order? How did you evolve among your siblings as being the family cook when you were growing up?
Sarah: I am the 2nd oldest in the lineup, and the oldest daughter. My family had an organic farm in Maine, well before it was the “hip” thing! I quickly learned I did not like working in the garden, and much preferred sautéing peas over picking them! So my “role” during the busy summer months was to help out with the cooking. I didn’t realize how good I had it with all the wonderful produce and organic products at hand!
Christine: Is the farm still operating? If so, which one is it? How has farm living inspired choices you have made for your own business?
Sarah: The farm is no longer operating – it was an incredible amount of work and this was really before the demand in local and organic vegetables really became such a fixture in popular culture. The experiences I had growing up on the farm are deeply rooted in how I am building this business. Being sustainable, sourcing locally when possible, choosing packaging with as little impact on our environment as possible – these are all values that I am keeping in check as I make decisions.
The other way this has influenced me is work/life balance! Farming is one of the hardest and most demanding industries – I recall watching my mom pick spinach after dark, using the headlights of the car to illuminate her work. It was never ending – especially when you are a perfectionist! So I have tried to keep this in check and carve out time to recharge. Some weeks are better than others, but I try!
Christine: I have to ask…is your child a picky eater? What are your top recommendations for parents of picky eaters?
Sarah: Yes – there are times when Ben is extremely picky. Words of wisdom from my doctor, my mom, and other more “seasoned” moms has been that children will not starve themselves, and to not become a short order cook. Dinnertime is really important to me, so we make the effort every night to eat together and for us all to enjoy the same things. We’ll see how Ben tests my resolve as he gets older, but as one of 6, we certainly did not have much choice as far as our meals went! If I survived, I am sure he will too.
Christine: You started your business with a baby in the house. Do you have a team, or is it just you behind Good Tastes? What has been the most challenging thing about being an independent mamapreneur, juggling the high demands of a new business with family life? Do you have any nuggets of wisdom for aspiring mamapreneurs?
Sarah: I absolutely could not do this without my amazing kitchen staff. I have two people who work in the kitchen with me, and they are fantastic.
The most challenging part to all of this is the general balance of my life – while I might feel I am being a good mom/good wife one day, I might be frustrated that I haven’t been able to get to the gym or catch up with a friend on another day. It doesn’t seem like I can ever tackle all of the important things simultaneously, so the guilt involved in making those choices has been a tough one to carry. I have learned to become much better about asking for help – and that would be the biggest nugget I could pass along. I would rather sacrifice certain things so we can get help around the house – so that when I am not working on building Good Tastes I can stop and really enjoy the time with my family.
Christine: We’ve talked all business up to now. Tell us about the favorite things you do to unwind or any hidden/unusual talents you may have.
Sarah: I really love the outdoors and unwind best when I can be active outside. My husband and I really enjoy cross-country skiing with our son and dog Murphy in the winter, or heading to the beach in the summer. I have tried to have a vegetable garden at home and have found it to be quite therapeutic for me – but this past year the weeds got ahead of me, and that wasn’t therapeutic at all! So we’ll see how this falls in the mix this summer!
Christine: And finally, what’s your favorite thing about being a Boston mama?
Sarah: I am a true New Englander at heart – and am probably one of the few people who really do love the weather here! I think each season has something special to offer – and the recipes that are inspired by each season keep me motivated to embrace even the coldest of months! I am encouraged by the commitment of people in the Boston area to support local agriculture and being mindful of the food choices they make so it is a perfect place for me!
Know a fabulous local mama? Nominate yourself or someone else to be featured!