Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://specialtyfoodmagazine.epubxp.com/i/912382

Contents of this Issue


Page 40 of 139

PHOTO: THE ZEN OF SLOW COOKING 38 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com M eg Barnhart's slow-cooking journey began in 2006, as an over- whelmed mother of three trying to figure out a better way to cope. Her husband worked long hours and she found herself crying to her best friend on the phone, saying she felt like a failure because she couldn't get dinner on the table. "Get off the phone and go buy a crock pot," her friend told her. Barnhart obeyed. A few years later, she cooked up a business idea: The Zen of Slow Cooking. Chopping vegetables had become a meditative part of her day. Aromas of spices and herbs in pot roast or beef stew transformed the energy in the house, she says, slowing everyone down to a calmer state. Two years later, her youngest child, Lucy, about 10 at the time, wasn't so happy. "She said she couldn't eat any more 'thick ' meat," Barnhart says, with a laugh. "I needed to step up my game and started tweaking recipes." Barnhart's middle son, Doug, was fine with her pot roast, but she worried about what he would do after he finished school. He had been born with developmental disabilities. "He's got a beautiful spirit and I wanted to consciously create employment where he could work someday, spread that light," she says. In the past, Barnhart, 55, had worked in the hospitality busi- ness and event management. A new career occurred to her when she spoke to Ramaa Krishnan, who runs a meditation and self-aware- ness studio in suburban Chicago, near where the Barnharts live. "She asked me what makes me happy, such a good starting point," Barnhart says. It was her crock pot. Barnhart found a partner, Jane McKay, with a background in food marketing. They started a blog, sharing Slow Cooker recipes and Zen inspiration posts. Their audience grew, which led to selling spice blends at a local farmers market. As their business grew, they fulfilled their social mission by hiring employees with disabilities, from adults with autism to those confined to a wheelchair. "They are so hard-working; so much dedication and care and love goes into packaging our spice blends," Barnhart says of her 30 employees, who work f lexible hours at Planet Access Company, a warehouse facility in Des Plaines, Illinois. "We are demonstrating that you can make a business thrive by putting families first and providing opportunities for people who have employment barriers." BUSINESS Meg Barnhart The Zen of Slow Cooking highlights 2006 Meg Barnhart buys a slow cooker, which becomes her favorite kitchen device. 2012 Starts the Zen of Slow Cooking blog with her friend and new business partner, Jane McKay, and creates her first line of spice blends. 2016 Selected to be sold in Whole Foods stores; raises $18,500 through a Kickstarter campaign; finalist in Chicago's Next Best Food Product; co-brands meal kits with online retailer Peapod. 2017 Sichuan Slow Cooker Spice Blends wins the sofi Award for Best New Product in the Seasoning, Spice category; becomes a Certified B Corp; receives a Trailblazer award from Search, Inc. for contribution to creating employment for adults with developmental disabilities. LEADERSHIP 2013 Brings three spice blends to a Chicago- area farmers' market, which sell out. 2015 Introduces two more spice blends, bringing collection to nine. 2014 Partners with Planet Access Company to package and label spice blends for online shipping site, starting with four adults with developmental disabilities.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Specialty Food Magazine - WINTER 2018