By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
Caring for our children’s nutritional needs is one of the most important aspects of parenting. Fortunately, Cara Buffalino-Silman (with co-founder Thomas Stevens) created Freshmade NYC. Now, making healthy food choices for our family is not only more manageable, but it’s actually a lot of fun! At Freshmade NYC, kids can become real-life chefs in classes like Brunch-N-Munch, ‘Round the World and Farm-to-Table. Adult chefs of all skill levels can enjoy various cooking series such as Sensational Spring Meals and Summer Party Food, or arrange a Mom’s Night Out complete with a cooking lesson and a meal (with wine) to enjoy together as a group.
But Freshmade NYC is more than just a cooking school for our littlest food connoisseurs (and their parents). It’s a unique and personal catering business as well, gearing their fresh and healthy menu items to both adults and children. And you absolutely must check out their inspiring photo gallery and book your child’s next culinary birthday bash in their incredible space! So let’s meet our mompreneur of the month, Cara Buffalino-Silman, and learn how this delicious Soho/Noho gem came to be.
BN: Write your bio in 5 sentences or less (i.e. where’d you grow up?, where’d you go to school?, job before kids?, how many kids?, where do you live now? Hobbies? etc.)
CBS: I grew up in the Catskill region of Upstate New York. I never really felt like it was “the country” until I moved to NYC in 2005, after living in South Florida for 7 years. Before having my daughter in 2008, I was the general manager of VERO Restaurant & Wine Bar on the Upper East Side. I currently reside in Greenwich Village with my husband and my daughter Lilah, 4 years old. During down time I keep myself busy by working out, spending time with my family and of course, cooking.
BN: What inspired you to start your own business? How did it all begin?
CBS: When I had my daughter in 2008, I took a leave from the restaurant business to stay home with her. Over lunch with a friend one day we came up with the idea of Freshmade, which originally was going to be a meal delivery service of fresh and healthy meals targeted to busy professionals and new moms. As the concept began to grow, so did my daughter. Coming from an Italian family, food has always been a big part of my life and cooking has always been such a big passion of mine (I grew up in the restaurant business where my father was a chef in our family restaurant. I started “cooking” with my grandmother at age 4, learning all of her family recipes from Italy. I helped prepare dinner with my mother every night.) While I was pregnant I made a huge change to my own diet and began eating organic, whole foods. Instead of offering Lilah jarred baby food, I began creating meals for her using fresh, organic ingredients. As I started taking her to playdates, classes and parties, I would hear other moms complain about how their children only ate the typical “kid” foods (chicken fingers, french fries, pasta, pizza, etc.)
I also began to notice the food being offered to children at birthday parties (pizza, cupcakes, candy, soda) and knew that there must be other moms out there like myself who wanted better options for their children. With that, Freshmade was born as catering company focusing on healthy, organic foods for kids’ parties and events. After doing a few parties on my own, I met Thomas Stevens, who was an Early Childhood Teacher at Children’s Aid Society, where I took my daughter for Mommy and Me classes. I learned that Thomas had a small catering company of his own, Let Thomas Cater, and also taught children’s cooking classes at Children’s Aid. We decided to partner up and offer healthy catering and cooking classes together under the Freshmade name in February 2011. Since then, we have catered all types of kids’ events, birthday parties and more. We also had private in-home cooking classes for several clients all over Manhattan. We opened our space in the heart of SoHo/NoHo in September of 2012, where we offer hands-on cooking classes for kids ages 2 to teen, adult cooking classes, parent/caregiver workshops and host in-house birthday parties and events.
BN: What challenges did you face when starting your company?
CBS: I have to say that I have been very fortunate since opening my business. I have had great support of my husband, family and friends. The community has been very receptive to Freshmade thus far. We love what we do and I think it shows in each party we create and each class we teach.
BN: What are some of your favorite activities to do with your kids (in or around NYC)?
CBS: There are so many great things to do around the city to do with kids. Lilah and I love going to shows, having beauty days, lunch and shopping, cooking together, having dance parties, reading, etc. We currently have big plans to go to tea at the Plaza (Eloise) and stay in the hotel for a mommy-Lilah sleep over.) This past weekend we went roller skating out in Long Island and had an amazing time. Some of my favorite resources for finding things to do are MommyPoppins, Mama411, StrollerTraffic, New York Loves Kids, etc. We also love spending time at Children’s Museum of the Arts, the Scholastic Store, Museum of Natural History, etc. and we are REALLY looking forward to this summer’s Farm Camp at Battery Urban Farm (we went last year and it was amazing!)
BN: You’re on a desert island…with your child – name 5 must-have items you’ll want with you.
2) Lip gloss and eyeliner
3) iPad (for music and movies)
4) A juicer with an endless supply of kale, lemons and ginger
5) Moroccan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner (we are both curly girls)
BN: What are your goals for the future of this company (realistic or in your wildest dreams)?
CBS: When Freshmade NYC began it was an idea driven by a question, “How do we make healthier food options appealing and accessible to our children?” Our mission is not only to expose healthy foods to young children, but to also give parents and caregivers ideas of how they can create a love for healthy eating in their children. Today, Freshmade NYC has become a full service catering and events company, as well as a cooking and arts program. Our goal continues to be providing fresh and healthy alternatives to the usual pizza and hotdog world of kids’ parties. And now through our cooking and arts classes we aspire to provide an enriching learning experience as well. Our program is designed to make families more aware of healthy lifestyles through creative, hands on classes for children, their parents and caregivers alike. Because we recognize that it is important to nurture the body, as well as the mind, the curriculum for our classes takes into account the developmental milestones and levels of all of our students. Through group activities and family style classes we encourage socialization, independent thinking, and physical fitness. In addition, classes include components of literacy, science, and math according to age appropriate practices. As we strive to be a successful family center to the neighborhood, we hope to help grow healthy bodies and healthy minds.
Thanks for chatting with us, Cara! And get your taste buds ready – Spring semester classes begin April 8th…to register, visit http://www.freshmadenyc.com
636 Broadway Suite 516
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (347) 927-4406