by Rob Franklin
Ma & Pop is a new food events service that consists of catering for music and food events, pop-up events, and weddings, as well as breakfast and lunch services for offices. The business was created by Dave Spittel and Jasmine Byrne.
“When we started dating a little over five years ago, we both loved going out to see live music,” said Spittel. “We recognized and respected each other’s hustles. That was one of the things that actually attracted me to her. She was a part of the service industry and she was great at it. And she knew that I was always in the belly of the beast in the kitchen for like six or seven days a week. So to be able to combine our dreams after all this time and work together is like a dream come true.”
The idea for Ma & Pop came simple to Spittel and Byrne. “I grew up the youngest of seven children and for me, the name Ma and Pop related to where we would go visit when I was a kid. Most of the places were small little huts and shacks or diners that were comfortable. There was familiarity there for our family so the name naturally came to me.”
As a food events service, Ma & Pop offers a little more than just a catering service. “What’s great about our service is that it gives us a chance to focus on customization. Like when it comes to breakfast, lunch or a wedding, we leave it to the customer as far as what they would like to eat. We are comfortable with a variety of cuisines. We do Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, Indian as well. We try to have a broad array of foods from what I’ve been taught over the years.” Spittle says that food service is something that he’s been a part of for quite some time. “I’ve worked in the food industry since I was in high school, so as far back as 1998. I started at Perkins. I worked my way up through the ranks. I’ve done it all from a cook to the front of the house. I became a Master Cook that allowed me to expand to Kenosha, Racine and West Bend where I began to train other cooks. I’ve worked for The Great Dane, and I’ve also been a sous chef at The Old Fashioned where we actually we won People’s Choice Award at The Taste Of Madison during my time there.”
Byrne’s experience in the service industry spans several years. She has worked at some of Madison’s most high end service industry outlets including The Inn On The Park as well as The Edgewater Hotel.
“Jasmine is my much, much better half,” Spittel said with a smile. “She has worked in the service industry for long time as a high volume bartender, as well as a fine dining server. She has worked with party and event planning. So it all ties into the customization. It gives our customers the best choice of being able to create what they want as opposed to just looking at a menu. If you have a thought in your mind, we will deliver it.”
With Ma & Pop being a food events service, Spittel embraces the idea of being an independent contractor.
“It’s something that falls under a catering license. It allows us the freedom to provide our services as we choose to,” said Spittel. “It’s a great luxury for me because it means that I can serve different audiences from concerts to conferences. And it’s cool because I’m not stuck in a kitchen. I get a chance to cook live on the spot in front of people. That allows me a chance to interact with our customers which is what I really love and see myself doing for a very long time.”
The interaction with customers is something that allows Ma & Pop to offer something unique that can be tailor made for each event.
“In this industry, it gives me the freedom to be creative with food on a much more personal level and work with people. For example, anything from allergies to diets, we service around the customer’s needs. If someone wants to have a vegan menu, we have options for that. It’s always a challenge and it’s always exciting. I represent for all cooks. I’ve put my time in the trenches, 70 or 80 hour work weeks.”
One of the biggest things that Spittel said he looks forward to is Ma & Pop being to work with the music and arts community.
“Music is motivation. One of the biggest things that I did when I was working for other people was I brought music into the kitchen. Most kitchens don’t even allow music. So what I do now is I bring music in as a part of our service. When we do events at the park, music will be a part of that. Art too. Being able to contract and work with independent artists is huge to me.”
Ma & Pop will have a booth at this year’s Taste Of Madison, which is a feat in itself considering that it is very hard for newer businesses to be able to get into the event. That’s why Spittel is making it a point to show some of the customization that sets Ma & Pop apart.
“We have some custom items that we’ll have at the Taste this year. One is a fully loaded, deep fried potato with a sour cream sauce. It tested well in the appetizer category. The other item that will be offering is a Jambalaya Quesadilla. That consists of roasted chicken, Andouille sausage, rice, a blend of shredded cheeses, and a Sriracha, Basil and White Wine Pesto sauce.” As tasty as those items sound, there is no better time to allow the people to taste them. And for Spittel and Byrne , there is no better time to pop off Ma & Pop.
“This has been a long time coming. A lot of people have encouraged me so it means a lot to represent the working cook. I want people in our generation to see what we do and really to take it upon themselves to get out here and grind for themselves.”
For more information on Ma & Pop, go to www.facebook.com/Ma-Pop.