Though today she’s known for cooking up delicious shepherd’s pies, specialty soups, and baked goods, Kim Sherman’s career path almost turned out very different. After graduating from CCRI in 2006 with a degree in law enforcement, Sherman’s name was third on the list for the Smithfield Police Department. While she waited for an opening, she worked part time as a security guard at a hospital in Providence, but a discouraging experience in the role drove her away from pursuing a career in law enforcement. Having worked in the restaurant industry since her early teens, she decided to pivot to cooking. Today, Sherman is the chef at the newly created Mello’s Market, a section of prepared foods, soups, and baked goods at Mello’s Farm and Flower Center in Portsmouth. The former Hope Valley resident experienced a homecoming of sorts moving to Portsmouth, having recently discovered her relation to Phillip Sherman, the town’s founding settler. Follow @mellosfarm444 on Instagram to see what’s happening in the kitchen.
A TO Z: I’ve been cooking since I was 14. I’ve held every single job in the restaurant business. I have a lot of experience, but I prefer to be in the back of the house. I can still make customers happy but I get to do what I like to do.
SIMMERING IDEA: Owner Henry Mello had the idea for about three years to offer baked items like pies and cookies. I said, “I don’t want to just do pies but I’ll help you – I’ll train somebody, whatever you need.” Then the pandemic hit, so it really slowed the process down. We talked again, and then I said, “Okay, I’ll do it. But this is what I want to do: soups and savory stuff. I’ll definitely do the pies and just kind of ‘farmstand-y’ stuff.” I knew I could build something really good. I feel like it’s finally my turn. I’ve worked hard for this.
KITCHEN PREP: Henry had the kitchen going already, and I just basically came in with my stuff, worked with what he had, and then we went shopping one day so I could get the rest of the stuff that I needed. I am a certified food safety manager and we have several safety managers on site. We started in October with the pies and then more food when I came on full time at the end of March.
EQUAL MEASURE: I like both cooking and baking. I am good at both, which not everyone is. With savory cooking, I like the freedom of throwing in different things and the fusion of all the ingredients. With baking, I just like to see the finished product, a nice golden color on top. Delicious stuff.
SIGNATURE DISH: My mom Shirley is a good cook and I make her peanut butter cookies and my grandmother’s French pork pie recipe. My daughter’s a great guinea pig. Her favorite is my stuffed pepper soup – it’s everything you get in a stuffed pepper except in soup form. My shepherd’s pie – can’t keep it on the shelf, same with my chowder. We also have gluten-free products. I got a request for a keto dish that I made for a customer.
KITCHEN DUTY: I will plan an eight-hour day and sometimes it ends up being 10 or 12 because I keep producing, producing, producing. I make it, cool it, pack it, and then at the end of the day, I’m like, “Oh my God, now I have to do the dishes!”
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