GLEN ROCK, N.J. -- Rochelle Randazzo of Glen Rock didn't have jarred tomato sauce until she was almost 40.
She grew up in an Italian family where home cooking was prized, and was was astonished to find out there was as much sugar in a jarred serving of sauce as there was in an Oreo cookie.
It's when the idea for creating her own sauces, using her mother's handmade recipes, started to form.
"Of course nothing was written down," she said. "I hate to recreate them on my own."
That was in April 2008. Her sons were six and eight and she was working a series of part-time jobs after leaving a high-powered sports entertainment position. It's also when build your own dinner clubs were big so she created a sauce club.
Much like a jewelry or Tupperware party, she invited a bunch of women to a tasting party and introduced the club structure: Members could pay annual dues or order sauces on a monthly basis.
Each week, she'd deliver a fresh sauce to their front steps. What started with 27 clients soon grew -- in less than a year -- to 60, then to renting a commercial kitchen and developing a full-fledged business.
Today, Randazzo’s Honest to Goodness Sauces and Pasta are sold at Kilroy's in Glen Rock, Bottle King in Glen Rock and Ramsey, along with select Key's Foods and other smaller specialty stores.
Most popular is the Alfredo sauce followed closely by Vodka, then Plum Tomato Basil and Marinara. Others in the mix are Puttanesca, and Fra Diavolo as well as four new pesto varieties: Basil, Spinach, Kale and Five Herb.
All are enhanced with the highest quality, "real food ingredients," not added sugar or powdered spices, said Randazzo. They are slowly simmered in small batches to preserve the integrity of the original recipes and are made with all-natural, mostly locally sourced ingredients and sold in BPA-free containers in the refrigerated section of supermarkets.
Randazzo said the "secret sauce" ingredient is 100 percent olive oil. which is a "good fat" that helps add a satisfying edge to one's meal. Attention to today's consumers is always front and center. In fact, the pesto sauces are made with pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts to accommodate her son's (and others) nut allergy.
She said the best compliment of all is when moms tell her their kids crave her sauces and specifically ask for them for dinner.
"I think kids like it so much because it's just simple ingredients, the way food should taste," she said.
And though she hopes her company becomes more of a household name, she feels good knowing her young customers will hopefully become clients for life.
Randazzo also hopes, when women see the "Certified Women-Owned Business" on the label, that they'll think twice about buying her product over one that's mass produced. "It's a struggle," she said, of competing against the big names. "But hopefully, once they taste my sauces they'll be convinced."
"I always wanted a family business with flexibility," she told Daily Voice, "I won't say it's not hard. But I will say it's worth it."
Go to www.randazzossauces.com for more information.