This Mother’s Day, Bring the Restaurant Experience Home for Mom
This year, like last year, will be different. Even as dining rooms reopen around the country, most people won’t celebrate the holiday as they once did, for reasons that range from safety concerns to capacity restrictions to our growing attachment to Zoom events. (Just kidding on that last one.)
This, then, is the year to maximize in-house Mother’s Day celebrations. For the occasion. Bloomberg Pursuits picked three feasts beloved by moms: a brunch, a tea party, and a dinner crowned with fried chicken and rosé. To cater them, we found exceptional Black, indigenous, and people of color (Bipoc) producers across the country—some of whom created their businesses during the pandemic. Almost all the companies below report increased business in the past year, as a result of attention paid to Black-owned businesses and initiatives supporting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Our online sales last year were up about 250% from the year before. We had to hire somebody just to keep up,” says André Mack, founder of Maison Noir wines in Oregon. “It was the best year we had in 13 years of existence.”
Michelle Sprott curated a box of Black-owned products for mail-order for her company Brunchnista in the fall of 2020; previously she sold mugs, shirts, and other branded merchandise. “I just started looking and found these people who have great products but didn’t have the economic support to be noticed,” she says. “Customers end up supporting them because they’re good.”
In the future, celebrating Mother’s Day in a restaurant might not be the given it once was. Mack, a former sommelier at the French Laundry in Napa Valley, Calif., and at Per Se, in New York, now shouts out the benefit of celebrating the day at home. “You can get a David Chang bo ssam, or an Eleven Madison Park feast delivered to your house,” he points out. Besides being cheaper, the array of options is seemingly infinite. “You have your pick of the litter of experiences. At restaurants, your meal is dictated to you.”
And then there are time stipulations in busy dining rooms. “At a restaurant you’re in and you’re out. At home, it’s a longer, more leisurely, celebration, until everyone gets sick of it,” he says.
In Seattle, James Beard-winning chef Edouardo Jordan oversees a mini empire of restaurants including JuneBaby, which highlights Southern food fused with West African influences, and the ambitious international dining room Salare. When his spots shut down because of the pandemic, Jordan began packaging specialties, including a mix of his tender, flavor-packed pancakes, made with a local einkorn flour, Oregon buckwheat flour, and red flint cornmeal, sesame and millet seeds, and buttermilk. Home cooks add a few ingredients—milk, butter, honey, eggs—to create a Mother’s Day special they couldn’t sample at Jordan’s still-shuttered restaurant. (From $9)
Inspired by the valves of a trumpet, Three Keys merges the art of coffee with the sounds of jazz. Founders Tio and Kenzel Fallen offer a handful of well chosen packages, such as Africano Fusion—an aromatic blend of African varietals from Ethiopia, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo with flavors of berries and molasses. The accompanying Spotify playlist Three Keys provides includes Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia and Ebo Taylor’s Heaven. If you’re looking for a spicier blend on all fronts, the team recommends pairing the dark-roasted Steamin’ Sumatra with the Miles Davis recording of Surrey with the Fringe on Top. (From $18)
When Jeff Allen played pro football for the Houston Texans, his wife Marissa would make cookies for the locker room. There was such demand for her crispy-edged, gooey cookies in inspired flavors like banana pudding and salted caramel that in 2018, the pair started mail-order deliveries. “If I had a bye week or Monday night game, I would help distribute cookies on Sunday,” says Jeff about their grassroots organization. Cookie Society now has one storefront in Dallas and is readying to open another, as well as corporate clients like Toyota Motor, Intuit, Dell, and the NBA. In 2020 the Allens shipped more than 10,000 packages of cookies. This Mother’s Day, they’re offering a box of special flavors including one stuffed with dulce de leche and key lime pie—a nod to Marissa’s mom’s favorite dessert. ($20 for 6 cookies)
Minneapolis-based Du Nord Craft Spirits had been around for seven years when the distillery burned down in 2020, during the protests following the murder of George Floyd. Co-owner and distiller Chris Montana, a former commercial litigation lawyer, and his wife Shanelle raised over $765,000; when insurance covered most of their costs, they started a foundation to support other local businesses owned by people of color. “Last year we sold more bottles then we ever had,” says Montana, whose company is working to diversify the craft spirits industry. Du Nord sells a collection of Black-owned spirits on his site; one of the best sellers is award-winning L’Etoile vodka, which has a crisp, smooth finish. It can be sipped, but the appeal of vodka, Montana says, is that it can be mixed with just about everything—a smart choice for a Mother’s Day Bloody Mary or a Happy Hour cosmo. ($27)
Before the pandemic, Michelle Sprott spent her weekends going out for brunch near her home in Brooklyn, N.Y.; her expertise was such that she started the Brunchnista platform in 2017. When Covid closed her daytime dining spaces, she began exporting the experience with a box of top-quality products such as Blanket’s honey butter pancakes and Trade Street’s smoked peach jam. Sprott includes intel on all the producers, along with her gold-handled mug. ($95)
Many of Hannah Bae’s stunning ice creams are inspired by the Korean snacks she grew up with; one of her bestsellers is toasted rice, which her mother still makes at her home. She also capitalizes on current trends with selections like Dalgona coffee, made with layers of cinnamon and sweetened instant-coffee ice cream with Korean honey powder sprinkled on top. Mother’s Day is an important holiday for Bae. “Our brand represents Asian American and all women,” she says. Noona means “big sister” in Korean, and her logo is a smiling woman snuggled in a cone. For the holiday, Bae is putting together a collection of pints including the pretty violet-colored taro, and rose ginger, which has a floral, spicy kick. (5 pints for $58)
Founders Diana Zheng and Ayumi Takahashi started their company to re-create the casual tea breaks they’d take when they went home to their native China. Sourcing leaves grown on family farms there and in Taiwan, Three Gems offers teas such as orchid fragrance oolong, which has a sweet, fruity lychee flavor, and the jasmine-scented Midnight Blossom oolong. The duo also sell brightly colored, playful tea sets made in Jingdezhen, China’s ceramics capital. “These teas are a nice alternative—or supplement—to a traditional bouquet of flowers,” says Zheng. “They’re incredibly floral and fragrant. It’s a chance to bask in the multisensory pleasures of loose leaf tea brewing.” (From $16)
Founded by Brooklyn-based Ashley Rouse and named for the street she lived on in Charlotte, when she created the brand, Trade Street offers a handful of singular flavors, including smoked yellow peach, as well as strawberry, chipotle, and fig. For Mother’s Day, Rouse, a former chef, has teamed up the nut-butter specialists Big Spoon Roasters. The combo package evokes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—one potential pairing is blackberry mulled Merlo[NOT MERLOT?] jam with chocolate sea salt almond butter. ($85 for Mother’s Day gift set)
Jaya Griffin started her baking company last May, after the restaurant she worked at, Jerry’s Food & Wine in Wilmington, N.C., closed down. She’s now shipped her over-the-top brownies and cinnamon buns with cream cheese filling to 38 states, and garnered Instagram fanfare for her glorious cakes. Her bestsellers are unconventional: birthday-cake brownies and a junk-food brownie, piled with potato chips, salted caramel, mini Oreos, peanut butter cups, and pretzels, too. “This Mother’s Day you get to be creative,” Griffin says about making the most of this singular moment. “I was always working on Mother’s Day, and my mother is a pastor—I never saw her. This year, I will.” ($25 for 8 brownies)
Hot chicken has become one of the country’s most compelling foods. (It was the top choice for 2020, if you’re counting sandwiches.) Shawn Davis specializes in crispy, craggy fried chicken pieces at his Big Shake’s establishments in Tennessee and Alabama. The Shark Tank alum uses garlic and a mix of spices for his alluring crust—there’s the option of mildly spicy, very spicy (Rambo), or no spice—as well as a sharp Cheddar mac ’n’ cheese, green beans, and cornbread on the side. (From $99)
On the South Side of Chicago, Stephanie Hart makes grand coconut and red velvet cakes. Earlier in April, Vice President Kamala Harris walked out of the bakery with a slice of German chocolate cake. But the sweet that gets the most attention at Brown Sugar Bakery is the caramel cake. “To be a purveyor of Southern cakes, and for my grandmother and the women on the block, I had to learn to make caramel cake,” says Hart. She went to Arkansas to learn how to bake it properly and now makes a stellar version encased in decadent golden brown icing. “Caramel cake is the bestseller on Mother’s Day no matter what I do,” Hart says. ($49)
From a tiny storefront in Manhattan’s SoHo, Susanna Yoon crafts exceptional hand-painted chocolates. The mini desserts arrive in engaging book-styled boxes. For Mother’s Day, Yoon, the former chocolatier at Per Se, is creating 12- and 24-piece boxes with flavors such as a limited edition New York-style raspberry cheesecake bonbon with berry jam and a thin pie crust on the bottom and her classic double sea salt caramel ganache bonbon. “Our inspiration for this box came from flowers, cherry blossoms, and rose petals. My mom always preferred food over flowers, but I thought it would be nice to bring the two together,” Yoon says. (From $49 for 12 pieces)
Sommelier-turned-winemaker André Mack has been making easy-to-drink Oregon wines since 2007, with labels like Love Drunk Rosé and OPP (Other People’s Pinot Gris), which Mack describes as “like juggling apples, pears, and peaches while dancing to Pharell’s Happy—enthralling, upbeat, fresh, and deluxe.” His bottles are available at stores, by mail-order, and at esteemed restaurants such as Daniel and Red Rooster in New York. For pairing with fried chicken, Mack likes both the rosé and the OPP. “The OPP flavors are ripe enough to provide a foil to the salty skin of the chicken.” However, he adds, “ I love to pair rosé with fried chicken. Love Drunk Rosé pairs well with the butteriness and savoriness of the chicken.” (From $25 per bottle)
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