These Mother-Daughter Duos Are Food Industry Power Players

While most moms would argue that every day is Mother's Day, this coming Sunday, May 13 marks the official occasion. Aside from placing flower orders and picking up the perfect gifts to commemorate our makers, we'll also use this day as an opportunity to give them some much deserved recognition. Because not only did they birth and raise us (no easy feat), but they've become more than just our mothers; they're now our partners in life. As you work on crafting the right words with which to celebrate yours this weekend, we have some inspiration below to help get you started.
These powerful mother-daughter duos all work in the food industry and span from actual restaurant-running teams to lady-led companies inspired by moms. We chatted with each of them in order to find out how these special relationships helped to shape their careers and love for food, what they've learned from one another, and how it's brought them together throughout the years.

Rachel & Catherine Allswang, Le Garage Brooklyn

Rachel Allswang says that she was basically born and raised in her mother Catherine's first restaurant. Because the pair already shared the same tastes in food and cooking strategies, they took the next step and teamed up to open Le Garage together in Brooklyn, NY — where now, Rachel tells us, they can just about read each other's minds in the kitchen.
What have you learned from one another about food?
Rachel: "We've learned to taste together, share our ideas. She taught me the subtlety of the different herbs/spices from around the world, that brings a new twist to a classic dish. We've learned patience with one another and going out to restaurants tasting new spots, it's our way to create a bigger bond with food & wine. It's our 'special moment.'"
How has food connected you both throughout the years?
Rachel: "I was always there with her in her restaurants, at home in the kitchen, preparing vegetables for the soup or cutting fruits for the sweet tarts, chopping herbs...Going to the market with her, she taught me how to pick fruits and vegetables. I would make a dinner party and always call her for advice and was always a success. We now will taste and look at a dish, look at each other, and without words [we] are on the same page."

Kristen Tomlan, Founder & CEO of DŌ Cookie Dough Confections

Kristen Tomlan is the woman making our cookie dough dreams an edible reality — a feat she owes to years spent in the kitchen menu-planning, cooking, baking, drinking, and eating with her mother, Karen Page.
How has your mother influenced you and your company?
Kristen: "My mom is one of the main reasons I am where I am today. I fell in love with baking — and cookie dough — many, many years ago as she was teaching me the ins and outs of the kitchen. Being in the kitchen with my mom was an essential part of my childhood, and I am so fortunate that she mentored and guided me to continue pursuing my passion. My mom always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to do what makes me happy — her support has been amazing over the years!"
What has your mother taught you about food?
Kristen: "She taught me to try everything. At first, when I was young, she forced me to eat anything and everything she was making — it was a requirement for us kids to finish our plate before we were allowed to leave the dinner table. It was a great lesson to learn and really expanded my palate. Today, there are very few foods I don't eat, and I love the experience of trying new things."

Lexis Dilligard & Sharon Gonzalez, Lady Lexis Sweets

Lexis Dilligard tells us that she and her mom, Sharon Gonzales, have "always been tight." So tight that the pair run a Harlem confection shop together, where relying on each other for strength, support, and amazing sweets is standard.
What have you learned from one another about food?
Sharon: "My daughter was trained to cook whereas I was self-taught. So from my daughter I learn the science behind cooking and infusing things together."
Lexis: "She says if you can't smell it it's not seasoned."
What is a favorite food memory that the two of you share?
Lexis: "Trying fried grits for the first time."
How has food connected or both of you together throughout the years?
Sharon: "Working together, struggling and creating together to maintain a business keeps us close."
Lexis: "No one else understands the struggles and humbling successes behind the scenes like my mom. I know that I can always lean on her even if we fight we still bring it back together."

Nicole Bernard Dawes, Founder & CEO of Late July Snacks

Nicole Bernard Dawes makes tasty tortilla chips into a non-GMO art form. Although her father founded Cape Cod Chips, she actually cites her mother, Lynn Bernard, as the unwavering and unsung hero of the trendy and successful snack company she runs today.
What is a favorite food memory shared with your mom?
Nicole: "When I was 10, my mother, who hates camping, decided we were going to go on a mother-daughter camping trip. We got to our camp site and haphazardly put up our tent while we also worked to prepare this elaborate dinner my mother had planned. The dinner was amazing, but the rest of the night was a comedy of errors ending with us throwing everything back in the car and checking into a nearby hotel! I loved that my mother didn’t let our less-than-perfect circumstance get in the way of a good meal and no matter how dire our camping situation got, the laughing never stopped!"
How has food connected you to your mom throughout the years?
Nicole: "Growing up, even though both of my parents were working, we had family dinner most nights. Walking in the house after school to music playing and the smell of my mother’s spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove made me feel the best possible way. I would usually do my homework and talk to my mother while she finished cooking. Family dinner is just as important to me today and the fact that I cook that same sauce, usually playing similar music, while my kids talk to me makes me feel very close to my mother. There are countless other recipes from my mother that I keep in a family recipe book. I also frequently call her while I’m prepping dinner to talk. I feel very grateful to have this special connection to her."

Andrina & Fran Bigelow, Fran’s Chocolates

In 2007, Andrina Bigelow left her post-MBA career to join her mother Fran's side at the chocolate company she started back in 1982. Today, the pair are still going strong, creating sweets side-by-side — and also sharing an admiration for classic food writer M.F.K. Fisher.
How has your relationship influenced your company and where you are today?
Andrina: "My mom is my inspiration. She struggled to find the right job after graduating from University of Washington top of her business class in 1965, but found her passion in food and had the resolve to start a business that revolved around it. I grew up empowered because of it. Joining Fran’s was not the plan, but when the chance to join the company came about – I jumped at it."
Fran: "Andrina was still in grade school when I started Fran’s. I wasn’t sure that I would have the time to be the mom that I wanted to be and also put the work into the business that it needed. But I discovered that the satisfaction I took from work made everything else much more rewarding. I was so proud of Andrina when she got her MBA from Cornell… and so humbled when she – despite having a successful career of her own – decided to join Fran’s."
What is a favorite food memory that the two of you share?
Fran: "You know, food was such a priority for our family… I have so many great memories. But maybe the best food memory I shared with Andrina was a trip to see MFK Fisher and celebrate her 80th birthday."
Andrina: "Yes! That was amazing. We went to her home in Sonoma. I was in high school at the time and remember being in awe of these powerful women food writers and chefs. MFK had piles of food books stuffed into every nook and cranny of her cozy house. And Fran and I showed up for this incredible full day event. People arrived toting coolers filled with amazing fresh foods – I vividly remember the oysters and mushrooms. It was an inspiring celebration for a truly remarkable trailblazer."

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