Attention: Picky eaters. Cara will have even you eating up fresh, real food. It all started when she was in her Italian grandmother’s kitchen – cutting, chopping and shucking for the feast. See why she encourages eating as you prep and how she keeps Freshmade kids’ classes ‘fresh’...
Tell us in a couple words what motivated you to start your business?
I have always had a passion for cooking. I have been cooking since I was a kid. When I had my daughter, Lilah, in 2008, I knew I wanted to create a business that was kid-friendly, combined my passion for food and applied my knowledge from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. And in 2012, Freshmade was born.
How do children benefit from your classes?
The biggest benefit I think children have from our classes is learning to love new foods. So many parents share with us that their children are picky eaters and that they won’t try certain vegetables or fruits. After taking our classes, we receive notes from the same parents saying that their children are now trying new things. Through our classes we expose children to healthy foods in a fun and positive way. Our students are encouraged to try the foods as we prepare them and we share the completed meal together as a group at the end of class. In addition, children learn how to work together as a team. They also hone their fine motor skills by cutting with a knife and they practice scissor cutting herbs/scallions, counting/measuring (math), literary skills (reading a recipe), problem solving and more.
“I can’t believe what an amazing experience family dinner cooking class has been. I nearly passed out when I saw my non veggie eater enjoying raw carrots and steamed broccoli! - parent of one of their Young Chefs students, age 7
What has been the most fulfilling part of your job?
My team. I have the most amazing team of teachers and assistants at Freshmade. Each of them inspire me every day. They are a group of talented people and each and everyone of them brings something unique and special to Freshmade.
What is the biggest challenge in your opinion when running your own business?
Time!!!! There truly are never enough hours in the day. After being in business for almost 5 years now, my mind is constantly running with new ideas. I spend a lot of my time researching and testing new recipes, thinking of new ways to continue to keep Freshmade “Fresh” :)
What was your favorite thing to do as a child?
I grew up in what New Yorker’s refer to as the “country”, upstate in Sullivan County (which is really just about an hour and a half from NYC). This was a place where you got on your bike and met up with your crew of friends and played outside from dusk until dawn, completely carefree in the fresh air, surrounded by nature.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
The power to heal - everything from little boo-boos to broken hearts to cancer.
Share your personal motto or best piece of advice you received in life?
“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity” - Seneca
This quote is from Roman philosopher, Seneca. You always need to be open and prepared for new opportunities. The universe is always throwing things your way and if you are listening you have the opportunity to create magic.
What about your childhood motivated you to stay involved in your passion?
Growing up in an Italian household, food/cooking was a big part of my life from an early age on. My grandmother, father and mother all had a huge influence in cultivating the love of cooking/eating fresh and “real" food in me. Spending time in the kitchen with my grandmother is one of my fondest memories. She taught me how to make baked artichokes and calzones when I was just 4 years old. She always stressed the importance of using fresh ingredients and took me around her neighborhood to collect them from all the specialty markets she loved. I’d chop the garlic, pick the fresh parsley leaves from the stems and mix up the breadcrumbs & cheese.
She taught me how to tell the difference between a male artichoke and a female artichoke and that the females were more tender (if you are wondering, you want to look for rounded leaves, not the spiky ones). She taught me how to make homemade dough for calzones and that my hands are my best tool in the kitchen. I’d mix up the ingredients for the dough and get my tiny hands in the bowl to mix it all together. We’d wrap the dough in a clean kitchen towel and put in on her bed in her room to rise. When I was in elementary school, my father owned a restaurant, the Italian House. I spent a lot of time there after school in the kitchen with my dad working with dough, cleaning muscles and clams, and sneaking a taste of the fresh tomato sauce bubbling on the stove. When I wasn’t in the kitchen, I was “hosting” or sitting at the bar drinking Shirley Temples.
At home, my mother always had me helping out with dinner. Whether I was chopping ingredients for a big salad (always on the table), slicing mushrooms for sautéd mushrooms & onions (one of my families favorite sides), or shucking corn outside on our porch - everything we ate at home was made from scratch. Learning the love to cook from scratch is clearly something that has shaped my life and I hope that my business, Freshmade NYC, will do the same for the children who cook with us.