One of my fondest memories of growing up was the delicious smells from the kitchen as my father would make my brothers & me spaghetti for dinner. He lovingly diced onions and garlic, carefully caramelizing the onions to perfection. The whole house would smell amazing. When we could smell it all the way out to the yard as we played, we knew it was time for dinner. It was the sauce we loved to eat, ladled generously on top of his homemade meatballs.
My Brothers and I eventually went off on our own. Craving the love of our Dad through the taste of our childhood, he would jar the sauce in big, old-fashioned canning jars and each time we visited, he carefully packed a case or two for each of us to get us through until we came home again. There were times I would run out before I got home, and I would try another sauce, but the love wasn’t there. There was just no substitute for that special taste of home.
Over those years we told him, “You should market this recipe.” Coming from such a huge family, he already had a very loyal consumer base; So many people loved it already! In 1996, my brothers and I carefully planned and scrounged as much money as we could, stuffed it into a mason jar and wrapped it up for Christmas. We watched as his face lit with excitement as possibility turned to reality. He would make every batch with the same loving hands, twisting every lid, labeling every jar and carrying every case for the next 8 years as he built his name and spread his gift.
With the birth of my first son, his first grandchild, my Dad passed on that tradition to me. Still making every batch by hand, Dad taught me the skills and methods to create the perfect batch. From my father, I also learned what joy came from the sauce smeared face of a child, the look on a customer’s face when they would try it for the first time, that sensation of hope and possibility when packing up an order for delivery. I thought, this must be how an artist feels creating a masterpiece; time, patience and finally, perfection. I feel that each time I catch the scent of the carefully prepared onions and garlic, each time I seal a lid, and each time I sell a jar.
Working for yourself is an all-consuming process, but when you love what you do and who you do it for, it’s not like work at all.