Situ’s Kitchen is a Toronto-based vegan frozen food company. We spoke with the Owner Sharon Kelly, to learn more about them.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Our business is called Situ’s Kitchen Inc. We are a family-owned mother/daughter business that manufactures frozen plant-based food, sold at grocery retailers. The family focus is also demonstrated in our company name as Situ is Lebanese for grandma. Our first product that inspired the company, the fatyre, is something that has been passed down from my Situ. She was a remarkable woman, widowed with 10 children, and a business to run. She was truly inspiring and a perfect person to name our company after.
What made you want to do this work?
I’ve always enjoyed baking, and shortly before starting Situ’s Kitchen I was taking Baking Arts courses at George Brown. My daughters enjoy cooking and worked in restaurant kitchens while they were in university. When my daughters switched to a vegan diet we worked at making our family’s favourite food vegan. Together with our baking and cooking skills, we ended up with some delicious and unique food!
What problem did you want to solve with the business?
Our slogan is “Plant-based made easy” and that is the primary focus
When we went plant-based in 2018 it became obvious that there were not a lot of options for convenient vegan food. The first product we launched was a family favourite, the fatyre (a Lebanese hand-held meat pie), that we made into a vegan family favourite, These come pre-baked and frozen and when microwaved taste freshly baked. We decided to test them out at a vegan fair in Durham and sold out before the end of the day! We knew we were on to something and people were looking for some more options in the plant-based market.
We have continued to add more unique, convenient heat-and-eat products to help encourage people to try more plant-based foods. These include calzones, plant-based cheese pies, a vegan pot pie, and our latest product, vanilla and chocolate cake.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
Our demographic is primarily vegans, but also we want to appeal to people that are open to incorporating some plant-based food into their lives. That’s why we focus on making foods that everyone loves and show them it can taste better than the meat/dairy-based version!
We also target people/families that are busy and need solutions for quick snacks/meals.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
We work with a distributor that sells and delivers our products to grocery retailers throughout Ontario. Soon our products will be available in Montreal, and we’ll keep expanding.
Where in the city can we find your profession?
You can find our products throughout the city at the following retailers:
– Good Rebel Vegan Provisions
– Fiesta Farms
– Yam Chops
– Tiggy Delivery
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.
Question: I want to eat plant-based food but also eat healthily. What does your company do to ensure your products are healthy?
Answer: At Situ’s Kitchen we take great care when selecting the premium ingredients that go into our products. For our special dough we use organic cane sugar, unbleached flour, and non-GMO refined coconut oil. All the soy products we use are non-GMO, the lemon juice is organic so there are no added sulphites, and we recently started making our own vegan butter in order to cut out the palm oil used in the other vegan butter spreads. We endeavour to make our products with clean and ethical ingredients.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
There are a few best parts. Growing a business with my daughters. It’s amazing that my daughter Aidan is a graphic designer so does all our packaging and design work. And it’s also great that my other daughter, Nicole, is a business graduate and works in operations and marketing.
The other best part is the excitement every time you get a new store! Or the excitement when customers comment on how much they love our products!
The worst part has been trying to start a business during COVID. It has presented some struggles such as supply issues. There are times when some of the ingredients were in short supply (or no supply). Another struggle is the lack of opportunity to be out and meet our customers/potential customers at fairs, trade shows, or even sampling at grocery stores. We are looking forward to being a vendor at Vegandale Festival and the Burlington VegFest this August.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?
Stush Patties – Another woman-owned business that keeps growing! I met the owner, Opal, when we both worked out of the same commercial kitchen. They make some amazing vegan patties and am excited for them as they seem to be doing very well.