Nada Choufi is the entrepreneur behind the Calgary-based fresh hummus company called, Mother May I Bake? It’s a playful name reflecting a childhood spent in her Mother’s kitchen and now, life in a busy kitchen with her own four children.
“I was born and grew up in Edmonton. My Mom was a fantastic cook and my father was a professional pastry chef. We spent summers visiting family in Lebanon and eating the freshest food imaginable. Everything came with a side of vegetables and bread was hot from the oven,” she says. “I was spoiled! And!!! I didn’t really learn to cook until I had my first child nine years ago”
That’s when Choufi really started to look at labels in grocery stores and realize how many additives there are in processed foods. She wanted to get back to the simplicity of freshness and whole foods that she’d grown up with. This longing gave birth to her “why” but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“At first, my food didn’t taste good. It might have been healthy, but it didn’t taste good!” she says, laughing. Motivation to stay on her path came with starting her Mother May I Bake Blog seven years ago. It was just after her second child was born. The blog gave her a way to share her journey and, her increasingly tasty progress. Along the way, through her trials and successes, Nada Choufi fell in love with cooking. She now loves life in her kitchen. This was also the time when she decided to leave her former career in marketing.
Mother May I?
In 2016, Nada developed her Mother May I Bake? hummus products. After a few years of hustling to sell at markets and independent grocers, getting into Calgary Co-Op – with its 24 locations! – was a big deal.
“When I first started, I was making hummus all the time. Whenever someone would call with an order, I’d make it and deliver it. Gradually, I worked at getting all my customers to order every other Friday. Now, I make and deliver the hummus the Monday following order days.” Choufi is very organized and efficient.
She shares space in a commercial kitchen. She uses canned chickpeas that she sources from a local broker. She’s very proud they are grown on the Canadian prairies. With her team, that comes to help every two weeks, they make the Original and Spicy Sriracha flavour batches first – while the sweet potatoes and beets for the other flavours are roasting. Then, they peel those vegetables and make the final flavours. They make anywhere from 500 to 1000 containers each session. Choufi would like to expand that.
“Before the pandemic, I used to do product sampling at a different Calgary Coop location every weekend. I loved talking to people and growing the business. But, now, I’m using this time during the pandemic to take courses. I’m learning about packaging and how to extend shelf life without adding preservatives for one thing.” She has lots of goals.
Nada choufi – The Hummus Queen
Already dubbed, “The Hummus Queen of Calgary,” Choufi would love to see her product at stores across Alberta and maybe even Canada. “It’s hard to compete with the big hummus brands. One of them even has their own chickpea farm!”
But, maybe Choufi has something they don’t? After all, not every company can claim the moral support of a loving husband and the glowing reviews of four children who absolutely love her products. That might just be the best endorsement of all.
Find a list of stores that carry Mother May I Bake hummus here. And look forward to a few fun recipes using Nada Choufi’s Beet and Spicy Sriracha hummus in my next posts.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. I was happy to interview Nada Choufi in my ongoing quest to support Food Artisans of Alberta. All photos in this post were provided by the subject.