Two local stay-at-home moms are following their common passion - food - and have launched a new business, Apex Food Company.
Neha Avasthi and Anupama Singh both once worked as IT professionals in jobs that made it difficult to balance life and career. Singh, a mom of two, worked in Silicon Valley, Calif. Avasthi, mom of one, was in New York. They escaped the rat race, moving to Apex to raise their kids.
By coincidence, they built their homes next to each other and became friends. They are both foodies, who love to entertain and were driven to find ways to cook and eat healthfully. Friends started encouraging them to turn their passion into a business.
But they had no business experience. So they worked with mentors at the small business center, Wake Technical Community College and the N.C. Department of Agriculture. Basing their recipes on hundreds of years-old recipes, they worked to create foods that that are unique and addictive. It was the start of Apex Food Company.
I checked in with Avasthi and Singh to learn more about their fast-growing business and what they offer. They'll be sharing a recipe here on Go Ask Mom too.
Here's our Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: What does Apex Food Company offer?
Answer: We are committed to make food products based on ancient Indian recipes. Our focus is quality and taste. Our mission is to introduce people to new flavors while keeping their health in mind. All products are prepared in a FDA approved co-packing facility in North Carolina and are certified Got To Be NC products. They are absolutely clean of any preservatives, additives, MSG, HFCS. Low calorie and relatively low sodium. Currently, we are offering three products:
PIAZ, gourmet onion relish; ZUKTI, flavorsome tamarind sauce; and ZUKTI, rib sticking wing sauce.
GAM: The business melds American and Indian food culture. What do those foods - and traditions around the table - have in common? What are the differences?
A: Apex Foods is a company founded by American women of Indian origin. They craft foods that are based on ancient Indian recipes, but reinvented or adjusted to suit all ethnicities and age groups. The products are unique in taste yet they are for the American taste buds. They go well with favorite American foods.
Here's what they have in common. Products have a very balanced taste profile. Though there is at least one “super ingredient” in each product, the spices and flavor profile is such that it works very with everyday American food like burgers, wings, pizza, sandwiches, grilled meats and veggies.
And the differences ... we're introducing ingredients that American people are starting to explore, including the ingredients that are common in every Indian kitchen. Our Tamarind sauce is known as the “ketchup of the east," while amazingly lots of Americans have not even heard of it. People have heard of the health promoting spices from the Indian pantry, but do not know how to use them. For example, the beneficial processed sugar substitute, Jaggery in PIAZ, is the most raw form of sugar and actually helps in digestion. Indians consume it after meals to help digest the meals. Though it's expensive and has to be imported, we use it in our products to let Americans experience the goodness.
GAM: A lot of people - often moms - struggle to get meals on the table, relying on processed or packaged foods. But you focus a lot on healthy, fresh ingredients. Does it have to be so difficult?
A: Not at all. The reality is that we as mothers of young kids started substituting unhealthy food products from our kids meals with healthy ones. Soon, we discovered that some of the best and easy to do meals were rooted in our own grandma’s kitchen where they had no refrigerators and no prepackaged meals. They always had ready condiments, pickles and chutneys to add flavors to simple foods such as cooked rice, bread, vegetables and fruits.
Our kids are American, born and brought up, and they are picky when it comes to Indian food. We know and accept that they love American food. We slowly started introducing them to our home made condiments to avoid all the junk they were adding to their food with the typical condiments from the market. Simple make overs made both us and our kids happy. Brown rice with Piaz, grilled chicken with Zukti, a Caprese sandwich with Piaz, good old cheese and crackers with Piaz. The possibilities are endless and easy. Rather, this is how this company came in to existence.
GAM: What do your kids love to eat?
A: Anupama writes: My daughter is more like “save the animals” kind. She absolutely loves Piaz. She puts it on almost every thing from a spread on toast to Piaz pizza. My son, a varsity football player, is a hard core meat lover - grilled pork chops with Zukti basting and Piaz as a finish sauce is his all-time fav. He loves spicy food so wings made with hot and spicy Zukti wing sauce are always a hit amongst him and his football gang.
They both love Sushi. They both like Indian food as well - Tandoori chicken, butter chicken and curried chickpeas are some of their favorite Indian dishes.
Neha: My nine-year-old love chicken with Zukti tamarind sauce. He will take samosa with Zukti any time over any other snack. He enjoys burgers topped with Piaz and Mexican food is all time favorite.
GAM: How do you hope Apex Food Company will grow over time?
A: Apex food company’s products came out in the market this year in January 2016. Within the first quarter, we were successfully selling in Raleigh Farmers market, on Amazon and in five gourmet grocery stores in the Triangle area.
By the second quarter, internet sales doubled. On Amazon, Zukti became a best selling sauce. We also started selling through Ebay, imortitaall.co.za, desert cart.ae in the United Arab Emirates and in India. We also got into two internet food box companies, all Lowes Foods and Southern Seasons, bringing the number of stores to 25. We also started selling out of state in Iowa at their largest organic and natural foods store, Everybody’s Whole Foods. In this third quarter, we have won Whole Foods on the national level, while our internet sales are on a constant growth.
With this very rapid growth every quarter we anticipate a 20 percent to 30 percent revenue growth each year. We will be introducing at least three more products next year. We are streamlining our process to meet the demand for the anticipated growth on national level next year with the possibility of going into the international market.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.