Sunshine Kitchen 2018-06-06 031
Local News

New vegetarian/vegan booth at Homewood’s Wednesday farmers market proves popular

Like many things in this world, The Sunshine Kitchen was born out of necessity. The healthy food booth was created by two patrons of Homewood’s farmers market who saw a need for more healthy food options.

  From left, partners Rachel Lewis and Susan Barzso 
  serve healthy meals at the Homewood Farmers 
  Market on Wednesday, June 27.
(Photos by 
  Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Like many things in this world, The Sunshine Kitchen was born out of necessity. 

“Last year I enjoyed taking my almost 5 year old daughter to the Wednesday night farmer’s market,” said co-founder Rachel Lewis of Homewood. “My husband would meet us when he got off the train and we’d enjoy the music and it was a fun mid-week event. Since it was basically a dinner time event, I found myself wishing for more food options – for healthier food options. I often packed my daughter fruit, veggies and other things to eat and I noticed other parents were as well.”

That started the wheels turning for Lewis. If she had to bring her own dinner to be able to feed her daughter a healthy meal and she saw that others were as well, there needed to be a booth selling healthy food options.

“Pretty early on last season I thought about doing some sort of healthy food stand for Wednesday night market, but I wasn’t exactly serious. It was more of a daydream. I brought the idea up to some local friends this past winter and Susan jumped on board. She was really the push that I needed to get it going, and none of it would have come to fruition without her dedication and hard work.”

The Susan she refers to is Susan Barzso of Flossmoor. Soon the two were seriously talking about turning that daydream into a reality and Barzso’s husband, Ted, was recruited to build a booth facade, which he did out of reclaimed wood.

When the new season began, Lewis and Barzso were ready and The Sunshine Kitchen debuted. 

“We are both passionate about providing healthy meals for our families and noticed there was not a healthy vegetarian or vegan option at the Wednesday night farmer’s market,” said Barzso. “We started talking about starting a booth that served healthy fresh salads and snacks that the entire family could enjoy while at the market and before we knew it The Sunshine Kitchen was born.”

Each week you’ll find two salad options that are vegetarian or vegan. The selection changes at each market along with a vegetable snack plate and a fruit cup. Every ingredient in the salads is displayed on a overhead chalkboard sign.

 “It’s important to us to be transparent,” Lewis said, noting that their salads have sold out every week so far.

The menu can be previewed the night before the Wednesday market on The Sunshine Kitchen Facebook page. 

The menu lists items like the Vegan Kale Salad made with roasted cauliflower, chick peas, kale, romaine, quinoa; vegan Parmesan made from hemp seeds, raw cashews, garlic and nutritional yeast and vegan Caeser dressing made from cashews, capers, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and Dijon mustard; or the Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with thinly shaved Brussels sprouts, shredded green cabbage, roasted grapes, roasted sweet potato, asparagus, scallions, chick peas and quinoa, with a maple Dijon vinaigrette and topped with roasted almonds. 

Other items they’ve prepared have been handmade pitas with Greek yogurt dip and fresh dill, sweet pea mint hummus and vegan salted caramel peanut butter crispy bars. 

“We use as many organic, local and GMO-free ingredients as we can and make everything from scratch,” said Lewis.

The duo are enjoying the feedback and support they’ve received so far and are discussing plans to do some special events after the season is over. 

“Susan and I make a really good team,” Lewis said. “We are both really strong workers and compliment each other’s strengths.” 

Lewis has been a personal chef specializing in healthy foods and dietary restrictions since 2007 and also has worked as a food stylist since 2010. She attended culinary school at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago.

Barzso has had experience working in food service as a server and she has worked booths at farmer’s markets in the past as a jewelry designer.

“It was always important to us to maintain a superior quality of food and to keep it simple. We decided to do an all vegetarian menu because this allows us to use the best quality ingredients and keep the costs down,” Lewis said. “I’ve had a vegan client I’ve been cooking for for a couple years and I absolutely love it. It has allowed me to be creative and use my imagination. In the past I had gluten free clients for many years and also enjoyed the challenge of that.”

Barzso said it’s been satisfying building repeat clientele who look for them each week and that she loves being part of the market. 

“What has been most rewarding about the farmers market is all of the support we have gotten from the community, our friends and family.”


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