What It's About
Two sisters use their pierogi-tive to share their beloved Grandfather's recipe with others.
Words of Wisdom
When you need help, look for a way to provide value to someone else! When Vanessa and Casey needed to find a kitchen in order to get their retail permit, they helped another small business make a little extra money.
Paula Newby-Fraser, an Ironman triathlete and duathlete, adopted pierogi as her food of choice during the biking portion of 1989 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.
Notes from Chris
Sisters Casey and Vanessa White grew up in Western Massachusetts, spending the ‘90s working alongside their grandfather to make fresh pierogies for his Polish food store. Pierogies are filled dumplings of Central and Eastern European origin, made by wrapping unleavened dough around a savory or sweet filling and cooking in boiling water, or sometimes pan-frying. When Casey and Vanessa weren’t making the pierogi, the dish was also a staple at their family dinner table. After the sisters got to college in Boston, they realized they had taken so much for granted. Beantown was pierogi deprived! When their mom would visit, she would hand-deliver amazing, homemade pierogies, much to the envy of their new friends. The siblings knew that if anyone was going to do something about the “pierogi void” in Boston, it would be them! They began to cook in Vanessa’s kitchen. Those friends became loyal test subjects, who would fill out forms after they tried the dumplings to give the sisters feedback. After about six months, Casey and Vanessa had perfected their recipe. They decided to start selling their delicious dumplings at local farmers' markets—but before they did that, they needed to get a retail permit. To do that, they had to find a professional kitchen to cook their pierogies in so they could get approval from a health inspector. They weren’t sure what to do. The sisters weren’t ready to invest the money into opening up an industrial-style kitchen … so it was time to get creative. They began to search for a store that had a day or two a week that they weren’t using their kitchen. They figured that they—the aspiring pierogi chefs—could provide another small business with an opportunity to make a little extra money, all while solving their own problem. So, they contacted a local butcher shop that didn’t use their kitchen on Sundays to see if they could pay to rent it out. Their hunch was right! The butcher shop agreed, and Casey and Vanessa got their license. With that, the women began to prepare for their first Farmers Market. They rented out the kitchen for $125, then cooked close to 300 pierogies. They froze them, and the following Saturday showed up to the Farmer’s Market with fifty boxes full of six pierogi each. They set up their booth, which they decided to call “Jaju [jaw-jew] Pierogi” after the phonetic pronunciation of “grandfather” in Polish—and completely sold out all fifty boxes within the first hour, at a price of $8/box. As time went on, they ended up investing in their own 3,000 sq. foot kitchen. With that, their production skyrocketed. They now make an average of 12,000 pierogies a week, which they sell at over 100 specialty stores around New England. As for what’s next? The sisters have two words: more pierogies. They plan to keep Jaju Pierogi going for as long as they can.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Learn more about Casey and Vanessa's business at their website, JajuPierogi.com.
- Casey and Vanessa relied on social media to grow their business. Follow Jaju Pierogi on Facebook and Instagram.
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- Longtime Friends Cook Tasty Food for Pop-Up Events: Two friends in Los Angeles blend their heritage flavors to cook up tasty pop-up dinners centered around the shape of a rectangle.
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