In 2005 I began cooking for wellness/yoga retreats, feeding thousands of yogis through the years. I cooked for my toddlers and their friends & classes. I would invite the entire kindergarten out and teach them how to clean, prep, and cook little meals. Some of the children didn’t understand that French fries actually came from potatoes. They had no idea what Swiss chard or beets or real carrots (not the prepackaged nubs) were. Finally, my time in Italy, my love of food, had collided with the actuality of the life I was living. The root of what would become Gina Cucina had been seeded.
Another set of twins and 12 years later, Gina Cucina was birthed. My love of feeding people, using ingredients out of my very own garden, led me to begin in earnest doing what my brothers and friends had urged me to do 20 years earlier. Farmers Markets – reminiscent of the open-air markets in Italy – had popped up all over, giving me a direct outlet for my products. I started jarring my soups, then one day I talked to my favorite farmer and asked if I could share some of his space at the market.
In one hour, I had sold out! One hundred jars of soup, non-GMO, organic, locally handcrafted with love and goodness. The following week, I came prepared––165 jars. I sold out of soup in the first three hours -- in JULY. I knew I was onto something.
After selling out at the market, I would buy vegetables and fruit from the other organic vendors, take them to a friend’s commercial kitchen, and create soups, gazpachos, tapenades, & sauces for the following week, when I would sell them in mason jars with beautiful slips of fabric explaining the ingredients. Each week we sold out. I was having a blast. I had found what I was meant to do in life, and I’d never felt more alive.
That’s when the wild ride began in earnest. We are still a seed-to-shelf business. Everyone helps – labeling, branding, chopping, working the markets, driving delivery trucks, doing dishes. Back in Idaho, my older brother and my family have planted thousands of heirloom, non-GMO, organic seeds and built a commercial kitchen in the tiny little mountain town I was raised in. In turn, it’s brought a slew of jobs to a community in need.
Every step of the way has had its difficulties, and every step of the way I have questioned my sanity. Through every challenge, every “NO” I heard, and every misstep, I have never given up. I hope you taste the joy, love, and hard work in every bite!