South Louisiana is famous for its food. There is seemingly no end to the number of new and interesting restaurants that capitalize on this truly great aspect of our local culture.
But restaurants and caterers aren’t the only ones in the culinary sector. Foodie entrepreneurs in Baton Rouge are coming up with all sorts of new products and services using their creative culinary abilities to fill a gap or carve a new niche.
Take, for example, Mary Joy Fasullo and Ebony McAlister.
Mary Joy is Marketing and Communications Strategist for Focus Foods, a Baton Rouge-based company that provides meals to schools, nursing homes, disaster victims and residential customers.
Focus Foods started in 2019 as a network of former food truck owners who began manufacturing easy-to-prepare, frozen meals. It has grown to now provide 30,000 meals a week for K-12 students across seven parish school districts, and operates in partnership with agencies like Meals on Wheels and nursing homes to provide meals to seniors across 11 parishes.
Since 2019, Focus Foods has produced and delivered more than 25 million meals. And it recently announced plans to expand to a new larger warehouse space that will enable the company to expand its retail food and co-packaging business and expand into new markets out of state.
Mary Joy joined the company at the beginning of 2022 and works with her dad, who is well-known marketing executive and band leader Ned Fasullo.
Ebony McAllister, along with her two young daughters Bailey and Harper, founded and owns Posh Pop Gourmet Popcorn, a boutique popcorn concept.
When it comes to fancy popcorn, butter, cheese and caramel didn’t go far enough, so the McAlister trio began creating ambitious and delicious popcorn flavors such as Caramel Café Noir; Praline Paradise, and Coco Crunch.
The McAlisters make their product at the LSU AgCenter Food Incuabator, which in 2021, expanded and rebranded as foodii, and sell it at farmers markets and special events around the Capital Region.
Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. Photos by Erik Otts .
Check out more lunchtime conversation about Baton Rouge snack food with this edition of Out to Lunch Baton Rouge, Super Cheesy, about a miraculous machine that delivers a piping hot pizza to order in 20 seconds and Baton Rouge’s on gourmet cheeseboards.