AURORA, Ohio — When Linda Priscilla cooked for 75 guests for her mother’s 80th birthday 20 years ago, she had no idea the celebratory moment would spawn a business.
“I made lasagna, chicken parmesan, and rigatoni and invited everyone,” Priscilla said. “And everyone raved about the sauce. They said to me: ‘Put this out, this is really good stuff.’ It took a while, then I talked to my husband about it and said, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a good idea, I think we’ll do that.’ “
Linda and her husband Jim were slowly creeping into retirement. They drove the business forward, bringing their grown children on board – their daughter is a designer and makes the labels, their son helps with in-store demonstrations. Doing demos would get them out of the house and they would get a chance to meet people, they thought.
Things went according to plan.
Grandma’s Recipe makes a line of sauces under the Full Fork name. The company sells four variations — flavorful meat, bland meat (“which has a lot of meat in it,” she said), sweet basil marinara, and traditional marinara. A pizza sauce is coming soon.
The irony is that Priscilla is not Italian. Well, maybe a trace by DNA testing, she said, but she’s always loved Italian food.
“Even when my husband and I were together, I would get Italian food every time we went out. It was just something about Italian food. And to this day I still love it. There was only one year that I just couldn’t eat Italian food anymore and that was when we were trying to get this right for the market; I ate so much of it. Now we are back on track and I still love it.”
You founded the company 10 years ago. They came to Heinen’s the following summer, Jim said. They work from their home in Aurora. The sauce is made in Solon.
Priscilla worked in accounts receivable while her husband was an auto technician at a GM dealership in Bedford. He retired in 2018, she a year later. The retirement gig has blossomed, leaving more time to work in the sauce business and they’re hoping to break into restaurants, too, they said.
But it all started with a party to celebrate Priscilla’s mother, Rosie.
“Everyone had a feast,” said Priscilla. “They just walked by. And don’t ask me why it was all Italian. Everyone else seemed to love it too.”
Priscilla owns the company, her first venture in the grocery business. She said the basil marinara is the best seller, and the spicy meat sauce is doing well, too.
The company’s name pays homage to Rosie, who made sauces, and her grandmother, Helen. Both are Eastern Europeans, said Priscilla, from the former Yugoslavia. This nation, which has now broken up into several independent states, lay just to the east of Italy, across the Adriatic Sea. That could explain the Italian influence in their kitchen.
“I think the whole of Eastern Europe was like a melting pot for so many different backgrounds,” said Jim Priscilla. “I think it all comes from the fact that it’s just so diverse, you know, from Italy and Greece and Turkey to France and Germany and everything. All these countries, it was such a mix of people.”
The sauce name “Full Fork” came about after Priscilla and her daughter came up with about 100 different names in Columbus, she said.
“My daughter and I were very excited when we decided to do this business,” Priscilla said. “So we sat on the phone for over an hour just throwing things out. And we were like, ‘This is like a full forkful of pasta sauce. If you spin it on your fork, it won’t drain. It’s really nice and thick. So that’s why we came up with Full Fork. “
This sauce is available at Heinen’s, several Giant Eagle Market Districts, Whole Foods, Dave’s Markets, and several other stores. The couple said Meijer has also reached out and is also interested in the sauce.
I am online cleveland.com‘s life and culture team and cover topics related to food, beer, wine and sport. If you want to see my stories Here is a directory on cleveland.com. WTAM-1100’s Bill Wills and I usually talk about food and drink on Thursday mornings at 8:20 am. Twitter: @mbona30.
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