Looking for a change, New Yorkers Sammy Shecter and Jarred Froman packed up their Queens apartment and their two cats and drove across the country to Seattle.
The couple immediately dove into their new community. “One of the first things we did when we got out here is we started going to the farmers markets, because we had heard about how much people love that commitment to local food and local produce and supporting our local farmers,” Jarred says. “We didn’t have that type of culture out east.”
Though neither have training in the food industry (Jarred is a software engineer and Sammy has a background in social work), those farmers-market visits and chats with local growers inspired the couple to start a side business.
“We’ve heard a lot that you should do what you love,” Jarred says. “I asked Sammy what she loves to do, and she loves to cook. And I said, ‘What’s your favorite food?’ She said mac and cheese, and that just seemed to fit.”
So in November 2012, just four months after they plunked down in Seattle, Melt was born. The couple served their creations first to friends, then at craft fairs and events, and finally at the Broadway and University District farmers markets. They’ve also landed shelf space in Capitol Hill’s Cone and Steiner General.
Sammy takes credit for the idea, having honed her mac-and-cheese recipes in New York. “We used to frequent a number of mac-and-cheese restaurants in New York City, and we figured that the craze hadn’t really hit Seattle yet, so we were hoping to jump in at the beginning. It’s comfort food, and it’s something I think most people can relate to and enjoy, and I just wanted to own a business that makes people happy.”
Sammy and Jarred developed personal take-and-bake mac-and-cheese bowls in adorably named varieties: Cozy Pajamas, a traditional three-cheese mac from Sammy’s original recipe; The Cookout, with smoked jack, smoked gouda, and plenty of bacon; and Sunday Brunch, reminiscent of a bagel and lox and made with Loki Fish Company’s smoked salmon. Melt also features four rotating macs that draw inspiration from what’s available at farmers markets seasonally.
Though the business has taken off, it’s not quite a full-time gig for the couple. Jarred’s New York employer asked him to stay on, so he telecommutes on East Coast hours, 6 a.m.–2 p.m., from home five days a week. “Then I go to job number two,” he says.
Job number two keeps them scrambling. “Our evenings are devoted to shopping and cooking and our weekends are farmers-market days,” Sammy says.
“But,” Jared is quick to add, “When we see the look on people’s faces after they try our mac and cheese, it’s so worth it.”