Sunday, April 18, 2021
She Delivers for Those Sick of Cooking During a Pandemic
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Spring Bullard prepares meals-to-go in the Red Star commercial kitchen in Hailey.
   
Sunday, March 14, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KATE DALY

“Exactly a year ago, everything sort of stopped,” says Spring Bullard.

The former New Yorker has catered events in the Wood River Valley for eight years and, when the pandemic shut down the party circuit, she knew her company, Br-ing, was in trouble.

A family booked her to cook meals for them on “extended weekends,” which carried her until April of 2020. When that arrangement ended, she realized it was time to launch something different. The weekly meal delivery service that she started is doing so well she hopes to continue with it.

Bullard admits she had wanted to change gears for a while, but it took COVID to spur her into action to develop a more predictable business model with steadier hours and income.

“I thought: A lot of people are not going to eat out and, if I had my family, it would be more fun to be at home,” she explains.

Many clients have told her they’re sick of cooking and glad for any break they can get from the kitchen.

She is popular with locals, second home owners and anyone whose adult children have moved in temporarily during the pandemic. She has found comforting crowd pleasers such as meatloaf and lasagna can brighten the day for many shut-ins who are used to dining out.

Bullard describes her cooking style as “no frills, just food, not foam, crispy frizzles and caviar--just food with straight-forward clear flavors.”

To appeal to everyone’s palate she steers away from hot and spicy but does like to incorporate Asian and Mexican flavors whenever possible.

In early March--Week #35 of her service--for example, she offered three main courses meant to serve two: Mushroom Bolognese and pork carnitas for $30 each, Beef and Guinness pie for $33, and two sides. Those were black bean and ancho chili and Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce for $13 each. Most dishes freeze well and many are gluten-free.

Every Friday night’s challenge is to compose a menu. She often turns to her huge stack of food magazines for inspiration and tries to be seasonal and planet-friendly.

Bullard buys fruit, vegetables, olive oil, cheese and flour from Ketchum wholesaler Mountain Fresh Produce. Her meats come from Atkinsons’ in Hailey, a short commute from Red Star, the commercial kitchen she rents from former partner Brent Barsotti on South Main Street. 

Barsotti specializes in making products from game and provided her some contacts when she sent out an email last May to 50 potential clients. When asked if they would be interested in freshly prepared meals delivered once a week, the response was amazing, Bullard says.

Now the email list has grown to 150 through word of mouth. Each week about 30 clients order dishes by Monday morning, to be picked up at the kitchen on Thursday afternoon, or delivered for an extra $10. Felicia Soares usually drops off the food at homes situated from north of Ketchum to south of Bellevue. She drives a sturdy truck that ably handled deliveries during the heavy snowfall at the end of January.

Bullard says she will still cater some events. But she enjoys her newish schedule because, after working early in the mornings for five or six hours, she has the rest of the day free to hike or skate ski with her young dog, Filbert, or tend to her small garden in Old Hailey.

Bullard has been cooking for almost 40 years. In high school she was influenced by her mother’s friend who was a chef at an artists’ colony. During college Bullard worked at a restaurant, and she’s been a professional chef or caterer almost ever since.  She likes the fact that the work is physical.

“You’re always doing things—it’s active and creative,” she adds.

She loves baking, and calls herself “a work-with-what-you-have cook,” skillful with turning leftovers into mini miracles.

The bookkeeping side of the business she finds less exciting. But these days she is only too glad to have to do it.

Want to learn more? Contact Bullard at brentspring618@gmail.com.

 

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