Do you have a friend that always has lunch that looks better than yours? That was Becca Salmonson with her friends. Food envy soon turned into a side hustle – then a full blown business! Read on to learn more about Becca’s journey from mini sous chef to the founder of Becca’s Petites.
SDS: You are a southern bell living in the Bay Area, how did you get your start as a chef?
BECCA SALMONSON: I learned at a very early age from my French mom. She had Multiple Sclerosis and was in a wheelchair, so she would instruct me on how to properly prep and cook the meals for my family. I was basically her little sous chef, if you will. While I did not attend culinary school, I did prepare meals for clients for several years.
During my days as a consultant, I used to bring in my lunch to save time between meetings and managing a newborn. My colleagues and clients would always ask where I got my lunch. When they found out I had made it, they weren’t shy about asking me to bring extra the next day. That quickly morphed into a side hustle and eventually a business – Gourmecca Kitchen. I started getting diet specific requests and figured I needed to be better educated, so I enrolled in holistic nutrition school. It is quite funny when I think about it. It started with a lunch bag, and soon I was hauling a giant cooler into the office building every day with my colleague’s lunch or dinner.
SDS: Becca’s Petites is an incredible healthy snack. What was your catalyst for starting the brand?
BS: When my workout partner Kevin was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I was approached by the studio to help with his nutrition; specifically, to come up with a healthy snack. He was craving processed, sugary snacks and granola to help mask the bitter and metallic taste resulting from his chemotherapy treatments. What he needed was a nutrient-dense snack that he could not only taste, but enjoy. So I began researching what foods he could have given his type of cancer by reading books, attending forums, visiting blogs and support groups, combing over my school notes and even checking out the local, holistic cancer center. And of course, test baking batch after batch until I got his thumbs up. When Kevin passed, my intent was to start Becca’s Petites as a means to help raise money for his son’s education fund.
SDS: What is one thing you wish you had known before starting a food product business?
BS: I would say all the costs involved, but then again, I might have never started if I’d have known. All joking aside, I think the lingo or a “foodictionary” would have been super helpful. Of course, I have learned a lot along the way, but knowing the proper terminology would have saved me a few headaches, and I’m sure some coin along the way as well.
SDS: What has been your greatest accomplishment with the brand so far?
BS: Getting into my first store, Andy’s Local Market, has been the greatest to me because it’s what signified the legitimacy of Becca’s as a brand. I remember sitting in my car and crying after I made that first delivery. From a community standpoint, I’d have to say partnering with Hospice of the Valley in my hometown and donating bags for our local Marin Health Care nurses have been the most rewarding.
SDS: What is your favorite food pairing with Becca’s Petites?
BS: Gosh, that’s a hard one. I really enjoy eating all the mixes straight from the bag, and I also put them on pretty much everything from soup and salad to ice cream, oatmeal and cottage cheese. But I have to admit, I have a brand crush at the moment and really love pairing with culina yogurt…their unique coconut-based flavors pair so incredibly well with our Original and Chocolat Noir. Even our two savory flavors, Savoureux & Flambeaux taste great with their Plain and Simple.
SDS: How has the community played an impact on the creation of Becca’s Petites?
BS: As mentioned earlier, it began in my power yoga community. It literally started with a jar on a counter. I would leave a jar of mix and a note for Kevin on certain days, and people wanted to try what was in the jar. To appease the masses, I started bringing in samples for the entire yoga community. Soon after, the yoga studio was asking to sell them and my community was encouraging me to create a business.
My friends, family and neighborhood community have always been super supportive as well. I used to oversee the snack shack for Little League, so I took the opportunity to taste test my new flavors at all the ball games. I was hesitant at first, because it was something special I was doing just for Kevin. It was never my intention to start a business, but I guess the best things often come to fruition when they have the best of intentions behind them.