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How Making Popsicles Led To Salsa Dancing & A Long Lost Interview from Philly

Kristin

Despite the title of this post I’m going to start with the long lost interview from Philly first. Technically these are both long lost pieces from PA. Unfortunately I had some road blocks with my video schtuffs, which is why the popsicle salsa dancing post hadn’t happened. And somehow, as happens when you live in a van and never know what day of the week it is, or sometimes even what time zone you’re in, there are a few other gems that slip by. One being my wonderful chat with Chef Chris Martin, from Philly.

Chris Martin, Marché Cuisine

Chef Chris (short for Christina) Martin is a Philly-based personal chef. We met one morning at Grindcore House to chit chat about our love of vegan food. She also was awesome at recommending great touristy things for me to check out during my week+ in Philly. Awesome!! Anywho, Chris and I talked a bit about her vegan roots and her experience as a chef.

Chef Chris Martin of Marche CuisinePhoto by Michael Spain-Smith

Chris started experimenting with organic foods in 2000, which then led her to vegetarianism and veganism, shortly thereafter. Both of Chris’ parents have heart disease therefore she found herself focusing on the health benefits of plant-based foods.

Having spent most of her professional career outside of the culinary world (her true passion) she decided to completely change careers in order to do what she loves. In 2008 she attended the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlanta Cape Community College and found that they were very open to vegan cooking. Since then Chris has enjoyed teaching cooking classes for kids (including an awesome Thanksgiving class), working at Vedge restaurant in Philly, advocating healthy food in schools, and started Marché Cuisine, a local, sustainable catering and private fine-dining company. Through Marché Cuisine Chris has developed at-home community education programs. Chris also caters the American Vegan Society‘s annual Garden Party every May. So cool!

Photo by The Independent Restauranteur Magazine

Even though my interview with Chris was several months ago I did recently learn that she is currently featured in The Independent Restauranteur Magazine. Front cover and all! Congratulations, Chris!!! Click here to read all about it.

Chris, thanks so much for sitting down to chat with me when I stopped in Philly. xo

How Making Popsicles Led To Salsa Dancing

One of my best memories (still!) of the entire so far, is my stopover in Thorndale, Pennsylvania where I met Issa Ostrander and his mom, Sandra the co-founders and owners of Mompops – a local, gourmet vegan popsicle company.

I sat down with Issa and Sandra for a little Q&A and then we put together the below video of the meticulous process of making gourmet pops!

Issa Ostrander of Mompops - Thorndale, PAPhoto by Albert Yee

Q: How did Mompops get started?
A: My mother and I founded Mompops in 2011 while running another company that I had since 2003. I owned a Pizza shop for 10 years and in the summer our sales would drop by half so we started to sell pops outside at farmers’ markets and festivals. It was a instant HIT!! I then recently decided to end the pizza business and make popsicles my full time job! My mother and I were always looking for a healthy dessert that wasn’t full of sugar and something that everyone could enjoy. We started experimenting with different flavors in the kitchen and did lots of research throughout the winter time and finally launched in the spring of 2011. It has been amazing ever since!

Q: Why vegan pops?
A: Why Vegan? well we wanted to make a dessert that EVERYONE could enjoy so we started with making it allergen-free, so there is no gluten, nuts, dairy or soy (we use coconut milk for our cream-based pops). We then wanted to make it with no added refined sugar so we sweeten (when needed) with organic agave nectar. Finally we wanted this dessert to not be a calorie counting item so we made EVERY pop under 100 calories (our Chocolate Banana popsicle is 83 calories, and that’s the highest one). combining all of the awesome features of our product in turn made it a VEGAN dessert as well which was just icing on the cake.  Our whole family is into healthy eating so being able to make a vegan dessert that you can integrate into your lifestyle is an awesome thing!

Mompops' frozen fruit, gourmet popsicles

Q: Where can we find your pops?
A: Our pops are sold in lots of stores in the Chester County area as well as Philadelphia. Please check out our website [to find all locations] – mompops.net. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to hear about new events as well as NEW flavors we make up just for our farmers’ markets and festivals.

And now, here we are – making pops!

So how then… you may ask… does one find themselves dancing up a storm, salsa-style? What on Earth does this have to do with making popsicles? The answer is, nothing! Ha!

The story goes something like this: After my interview and popsicle making adventure with the Ostranders I was set on exploring a few other area restaurants. Since I typically sleep in the van Issa kindly offered the parking lot at his family’s pizzeria, now the Mompops popsicle making epicenter. I accepted and went about my day.

When I returned from exploring I found Issa still hard at work making pops for a farmers’ market he was planning to attend the next day. It was around 9 or 10 at night and I wasn’t quite ready to sleep so I hung around for a few minutes to watch and help a bit. We were in popsicle-making-mode for only twenty minutes or so before a salsa-esque song came up on Issa’s Pandora station. I must’ve started bopping around a little bit and he then asked if I salsa. Having been to my fair share of salsa clubs and having taken a handful of ballroom lessons in the past, I perked up and said, “why yes, yes I do! Do you?!” I don’t remember exactly what Issa said… he might have said yes, or sort of, or a little … all I know is within the next few moments we were salsa dancing around the Mompops kitchen. WOOOOO! (You all know how much I love to dance, right?! :)

We took this two-person party outside, where Issa set up speakers that blasted salsa tunes. With Gerty as our solo audience member we continued to salsa dance for at least another hour throughout the parking lot, entertaining the late night drivers passing by. At some point we decided that it would be a good idea to reenact one of the well-known scenes from Dirty Dancing when “Baby” and “Johnny” were practicing a spinny move where she kept giggling because he was inadvertently tickling her armpit. Okay well, we weren’t exactly focusing on the tickling (no, no, no!!) but more so the dance moves themselves. Though we didn’t try the “big lift,” we still had a blast re-watching that one scene and trying to get the moves down. Dorks? Maybe. Did we have an awesome time? Absolutely.

After that Issa went back to making popsicles and I went to sleep. What a way to close out my time in Pennsylvania!! :)

Issa, thank you so much for the completely unexpected but totally awesome dance-a-thon, and for letting me stay in your parking lot overnight. Also, of course, thanks for making awesomely vegan popsicles!

From here I’ll be continuing my posts about Florida! My goodness, that state is packed with vegan food. Onward! Woohoo!!

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