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Healthy strategies

September/October 2018 California Bountiful magazine

Business focuses on good-for-you meals




Kellie Black owns a catering and meal-prep company in Visalia. Photo: © 2018 Tomas Ovalle

If it's 7:30 on a Saturday morning, you can bet Kellie Black will have parked her SUV and begun chatting with the vendors and perusing the displays at the Visalia Farmers Market. By the time she leaves, about an hour later, she'll have three large, heaping crates of ingredients and a good idea of what dozens of people will be eating the following week.

Black owns Mâche, a Visalia-based catering and meal-prep company. Whereas some cooks might build their menus around a protein or seasonal vegetable, Black typically heads straight for the herbs.

"I don't know why, but that will usually start the creative process," she said. Then off she goes to explore the rest of the market.

"I create the menu as I'm walking through," she said, then added with a laugh: "It's really that random."

Her business strategy is anything but.

Black named her company after a relatively rare salad green (pronounced "mahsh") she discovered at a natural-foods store while shopping for her middle daughter, whose previously misdiagnosed food intolerances led to years of health struggles.

"I thought Mâche would be great branding for the company because it sparks interest. People want to know what it is," explained Black, who has an MBA and previously taught business courses at Reedley College.

Black designs Mâche's heat-and-serve meals for anyone lacking the time or expertise to prepare healthy food—including busy families, fitness buffs, cancer patients, people with diabetes and others on restricted diets. The demand is so great, she said, that she is continually expanding her business. Although Black offered only local pickup and delivery when she launched the company three years ago, she has recently begun shipping throughout California and is eyeing national distribution.

"At this point," she said, "I feel it's wide open."

Barbara Arciero

Recipes

Roasted Brussels sprouts with apples, cherries and pecans

Red pepper and heirloom tomato soup 

Herb-roasted chicken

Field greens salad

Homemade ricotta cheese with balsamic blueberries


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