Ellie Tucker, AKA Joyful Spirit, has done just about every job in the food world. Currently, she is a Fork member who uses the kitchen to create her delicious and nutritious Box Cottage Granola Bits and other tasty treats made with wholesome, local ingredients. She's a seasoned chef, a voice of wisdom in the Fork kitchen, and she puts together a mean platter of bruschetta for our catering team. In this interview, we chatted about Ellie's food history.
What was your first job?
I had a newspaper route when I was 11. I biked around and kept maybe 25 newspapers in my bike basket and I would deliver them on my road. This was back when the PPH did two editions - there was no social media, no computers, so there was enough news for a daytime and a nighttime edition!
How did you get involved with food work?
I had summer jobs but my first serious food job was in Sugarloaf. Like everyone else, I had this romantic notion of working in a restaurant so when I moved to Sugarloaf, I got a job as a cook at the Sugarloaf Inn. It was supposed to be a temporary move, but I ended up staying for 15 years! The first time I made chowder at the Inn, it was so bad that the chef sent my sister in to tell me that it was awful. I asked around for help, because I’m a huge believer in collaboration, and to this day I think I make a pretty good chowder. I ended up even opening a deli around there.
What motivates you to continue and grow your business?
Having people appreciate my product, and being able to offer an alternative to what is out there - a healthy alternative.
Who are some food entrepreneurs that you admire?
Some fellow Fork Food Lab members. Other small business owners who have had their own struggles.
What’s your go-to weeknight dinner?
Whatever I can throw in a salad bowl. Hot, cold, whatever. I hate dishes! I have a wooden bowl that I’ve had since my Sugarloaf days. I put whatever I have around in my salad bowl and add balsamic vinegar or some Plucked Fresh Salsa. My other favorite is Lynne’s (Tortilleria Pachanga) tortillas with cheese and avocado.
Where do you like to eat in Maine?
Places with homemade foods! I love to eat on someone’s back porch overlooking the ocean. My brother is a lobsterman so I think one of the best meals I had was on the back of his broken-down pickup truck.