Meet NYC Fancy Food Fellow Finalist: Spoonable
It's caramel with attitude.
Otherwise known as Spoonable, Brooklyn's saucy caramel.
Spoonable Founder Michelle Lewis derives her 'saucy' inspiration from a multitude of cultural influences, stemming from her French-Moroccan heritage and life overseas. Her line of confectionery caramel sauces include zesty flavors like ‘Spicy Chili Caramel’ and ‘Brooklyn Butterscotch.’
Based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Spoonable's story starts with a cheesecake. Leftover caramel sauce turned into a regular gift to friends, which, after many iterations of ingredient-adjusting and taste-testing, ultimately became Brooklyn's Saucy Caramel. It's proof that the entrepreneurial spirit can strike at any time.
As one of seven finalists in our Taste of NYC: Fancy Food Fellowship, sponsored by NYCEDC and the Specialty Food Association, Spoonable now has a chance to share its special sauce at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show, where over 22,000 buyers from more than 100 countries will converge to view top-of-the-line specialty food products.
We spoke to Michelle about what gives her that special sauce.
What prompted you to start the business?
A friend’s 50th birthday! My friend is not a good baker so I stepped up to make a cheesecake, which I topped with a salty caramel sauce. The sauce was the hit!
Did you have any culinary or business experience to help you get started?
My Mom is French—born and raised in Morocco—so food was always super important in my life. Every day we would sit down to a delicious meal and the talk would be about what tomorrow’s dinner would be.
Ingredients were simple and interesting. We ate based on what was available that season. I try and bring that ethic into my work with Spoonable.
What are some of the major obstacles you face in your day-to-day operations?
I started this business in my late 40s, without a partner, so not only is it tough financially—it is difficult physically! I have to pick up 50-pound bags of sugar and 36-pound boxes of butter. I manage, but it's not so easy at 51!
Thankfully, over the last three years I have developed some physical and mental muscle.
What role does your local community play?
Our local community is incredibly important. There is such a rich network of entrepreneurs in Brooklyn, and I am happy to be a part of it all.
Brooklyn brands have quite a lot of power in the marketplace. So, I mentor new businesses that are trying to get established in the NYC area, including businesses from Spoonable employees. Our entire staff is local. And we work with organizations like the International Rescue Committee to help refugees find work in the NYC food industry.
We supply many local retailers and receive a ton of support from local organizations too. We often donate our products to support their events, as well. Last summer we signed a five-year lease at the Pfizer Building, so we are definitely committed to Brooklyn.
Any fun facts?
My first business was making dog food. Dog snacks followed—which I still make and sell—so Mr. Smith, Jules, Remy, Maggie, Oola, Eddie, GB, and Winslow are some of the early investors helping to fund Spoonable!
Put Spoonable to the test! Try these recipes using Brooklyn's saucy caramel that are Spoonable-approved.
About the Fancy Food Fellow Series: Each week, we’re featuring immigrant entrepreneurs with a passion for bringing their unique flavor to NYC’s melting pot. Come back next week for another food profile from this year’s Fancy Food Fellow Finalists. You can find all profiles here.