Susie a Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, born in 1957, raised in a home with her father, Jack a Milwaukee Police Office, and Mother, Alice who took care of the family. Jack had the easier job, as the family has one son and five daughters. They lived in a single family home that had to be less than a thousand square feet. Their kids were not strangers to chores, can you imagine keeping just the laundry clean, folded, and put away?
Susie’s passion for cooking started early, at ten, her mother visited New York’s 1967 World Fair. Not knowing the whole story, but one evening Susie had to make gravy, while I am sure she worked hard, gravy must be able to pour out of the pan, and hers could not get out of the pan.
Susie joined the Army in 1975 and served at Fort Dix, New Jersey, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Fort Lewis, Washington. She was honorably discharged in 1978. When you see “Veteran Owned” on her Food Trailer, Susie earned the right to label this venture as “Veteran Owned”, as she is a Veteran.
Once out of the Army, Susie relocated to Sherman Oaks, California (leaving the cold winters for earthquakes, fires, and the heat of California summers). Susie met Jim in Southern California and married thirty-nine years ago on August 14/15. Susie and Jim have three children, James, Bryan, and Rebecca. Bryan married Mary and we now have twin girls, nearly six years old, Annabeth, and Olivia. What joy, and a handful.
It is unclear exactly where Susie developed her cooking skills, but she certainly has those skills today.
Twenty-Five years ago, Susie received an order for a hundred and twenty baker’s dozen cookies to be delivered on a Monday. The Saturday before the order was due, Jim called Susie at work to verify when the order was due, she responded a week from Monday. She did not realize they were due in two days – before noon. Bedlam is an understatement; Susie and Jim had cookie dough and finished cookies everywhere. Our client loved them and placed several addition large orders, but nothing like that first order; over the next six years.
Desserts, may have started Susie’s passion, her Mother–in–Law, Gammy always baked apple pies for Thanksgiving (this was about the only time of the year she baked these pies), when Susie entered the family she learned from her Mother–in–Law how to bake these delightful Apple Pies. Her Mother–in–Law also occasionally, made Chocolate Eclairs. Because she baked these far less often then Apple Pies, I guess she made them large so her family and friends would remember them. You could have four people share one and all four would be delighted. Susie over the years has made these treats a much more manageable size. Both desserts are absolutely delicious.
When Susie received that large cookie order, she was working at Sears. Susie started as Sears working two days a week selling washing machines and clothes dryers. Watching her from a distance she learned everything she could about washers and dryers. She personally purchased practically every new high end unit that came on the market, over the years we had so many different machines that I could not keep track. Susie’s reason is that if she had personal experience with the units she would become a better sales person. Soon in her region which had twenty stores, she became one of the best sales associate. Two things to remember, her store was a ”B” store which are significantly smaller than an “A’ store, the second item was that she was still working part time. She was selling more than other full time sales associates in larger stores while only working part time. Soon she was working more days which eventually turned into full time. Within a short time, Susie was offered a managerial position in the appliance department. Susie learned quick that managing and working as a sales associate are two very different positions. Susie has moved on, now she is with American Furniture Warehouse and has continued to learn her trade. She brings this experience and her passion for cooking to Susie's AZ Kitchen.
Now how to motivate people working under your direction, this is easier said than done, Susie learned fast and began coaching people on what had driven her success. More was needed; more is always needed, regardless of how good you may motivate people. Soon Susie began a “Pot Luck” lunch every Sunday for her associates, (Now when normal people think pot luck, they think everybody brings something and everyone shares. This is not how Susie handled her pot luck lunches, she told everyone what she was cooking, and if they wanted to be included the associate would slip Susie a few bucks to cover the cost of the food. She generally started with a green salad, a salad that she would serve at a holiday dinner for her extended family. The entries included Chicken on a Stick with Wild Rice, Baby Back Ribs with Wild Rice, Beef Barley Soup, Chili and Crackers, Lasagna with Seasoned French Bread, Ribeye Steak, and Baked Potato, and Sloppy Joes with Potato Chips. Her Desserts included “Better than Sex” cake, Blueberry Cheesecake, Brownies, Poppy Seed Cake, Rice Krispy Treats, and a whole lot more. Over the decades, Susie’s Cheesecakes have become very popular and now we often have several half sheet cheesecakes a day to cook. These potluck lunches have developed into catering in an occasional manner, from a family gathering to a group of fifty. Now that we are equipped properly, we have started taking on larger groups for catering, special events, and fund raising opportunities.
When Susie left Sears and soon began working for American Furniture Warehouse, a large furniture store in Colorado – now in Arizona. Within a year, Susie had become a Sales Manager and once again started her morale boosting weekly pot luck lunches.
Susie enjoys pleasing people while following her passion; this combination will allow her to have some fun.
Susie loves feedback, if you have any good or bad, she would appreciate hearing from you. Everyone loves to hear praise, and most people do not like to hear criticism. Susie is no different than most people, but one concept that she firmly believes is that if you don’t know something is wrong, how can you fix it. While immersed in a job, even (particularly) if it is your passion, sometimes you cannot see a problem.