Four Questions with Sophie Meislin Baron
On all other posts, we share inspired ideas for celebrating our Judaism; on this post, we talk to the women who give us reason to celebrate.✨
Hi friends! Back with another “Four Questions” for ya. Today we’re talking with my dear friend from across the pond, Sophie Meislin Baron. Sophie’s the founder of Mamamade Food UK, a brand on a mission to make healthy home-cooking easier for time-strapped parents. She’s also an inspiring mom, a seriously talented writer with bylines in Vogue, Conde Nast Traveler, and WWD, and a New Yorker through and through. Currently, though, she and her husband and toddler daughter call London home.
The idea for Mamamade was born when Sophie found herself struggling to feed her own baby healthy, fresh food that didn’t take a ton of time to prepare. Now, with a little help from local farmers and experienced nutritionists, the company delivers unprocessed, vitamin-packed, flash-frozen ingredient combinations (in the cutest packaging, no less) to grateful parents across the UK and beyond.
Below, I chat with Sophie about all things business, motherhood, “figuring it out as you go,” and the ways in which her personal brand of Judaism plays a role in all of the above. Here’s hoping you’re just as inspired by our conversation as I was (and that you take a minute to check out Mamamade, too!).
What inspired you to start MamaMade in the first place, and What do you envision for its future?
I started Mamamade out of a genuine desire—or need, rather—to feed my daughter Liba organic, mostly plant-based, flavorful food without having to compromise on time or efficiency. I suppose it was about a year-and-a-half ago that I was introducing solids to her, and I was honestly just overwhelmed. I remember thinking that it couldn’t possibly be the case that the only options were cooking everything yourself from scratch, or relying on these overly sweet, goopy baby food pouches.
So I started developing what’s since become Mamamade’s flagship product suite. I wanted to create a new, different take on baby food that would allow me and other mothers to have that something “in between.” For me, that means food that takes little time to prepare, but is still unprocessed, unrefined, low in sugar, and made from real ingredients.
At the outset, I bootstrapped it all. I ordered in every possible type of packaging I could find and tested each one; I sold the first products out of my kitchen in London…all of that. And the truth is, even now, I’m still learning. I’m still figuring it out and seeing what works for me. All I can do, still, is get as much feedback as I can, and then try to perform on the back of that while still staying true to the things I believe in, and the reasons why I started this business in the first place. But, yes, at a certain point, things just clicked, and it really started taking off. Now, the most exciting part of running the business is hearing from fellow mothers and strangers on the internet that my product has empowered them to make better, healthier decisions for their kids and their families. That’s really been incredible.
“…the truth is, even now, I’m still learning.
I’m still figuring it out and seeing what works for me.”
What does a typical Saturday look like for you and your family?
On a typical Saturday here in London, my husband and I take my daughter to the children’s service at shul in the morning, which she just loves. It’s really relaxed—actually, it’s more like a music class. And it's just a nice way to start the day.
Then, we’ll either have people around for Shabbat lunch, or we’ll go to someone else’s house. No matter what we do, though, the entire day tends to feel like this beautiful, peaceful reset. Even two weeks ago...I think we had eight adults and eight kids over, and it was complete mayhem, don't get me wrong. But my husband and I ended the day looking at each other and just saying, “That was the best.” It’s really nice to give my daughter Liba that kind of close attention without using technology, and it's special that there's a day on our calendar every single week that’s all about family and friends.
If I’m being completely honest, I used to think Shabbat was sort of a drag. Now, it’s seriously the best thing ever. I’ve gotten to a point where I look forward to it in every way.
“…If I’m being completely honest, I used to think Shabbat was sort of a drag. Now, it’s the best thing. I’ve gotten to a point where I look forward to it in every way.”
Living overseas, how have you maintained a connection to your Judaism?
It’s been interesting, and more than anything, it's been a choice. For a little context…I went from living in New York City to living in Paris and finally to London, where I am now. In my personal opinion, the Jewish communities just don’t feel quite as integrated here as they do in those other places, or at least compared to New York, where people typically like bonding over their Judaism. My experiences have led me to believe that it's a bit more insular and separate.
Still, what's interesting and counter-intuitive about that is that I've drawn even closer to my Judaism since coming here. It was lonely coming to a new city, I think, and after leaving New York, I felt like I was scraping for something to connect to. For me, Judaism became that thing—that language that everyone spoke. Jews in London may be different from Jews in New York, but there's still this very similar base lifestyle, along with shared traditions and even shared words. Going to Shabbat dinner anywhere in the word always feels familiar, and I cherish that.
Maybe that's why, when I arrived here (and especially when my husband I started our family), I started doing things I never really did before. I simply began to better understand the connections that my Judaism could offer me. I began keeping every single yontif, which I never necessarily would've done in those years after college; we joined a temple, we began observing Shabbat...at least in our own way. Even the neighborhood we chose to live in is so specifically a "Jewish area." Being Jewish feels innate on some levels, but on others, it's a conscious decision every single day.
If you had to pick just one,
what woud you say is your favorite jewish food?
Ooh, favorite Jewish food! It's probably a surprising pick, but I like kasha varnishkes so much—it's just my complete comfort food. My granny used to make it, my mom makes it now...it's a family thing. And it's become the thing I crave whenever I'm sick. It happens to be really, really healthy, too.
The problem is, buckwheat isn't really a "thing" here and it's sort of hard to find. It is in the Polish community, but not so much in the Jewish community...so I was absolutely determined to use it in one of the Mamamade recipes and give it that same comforting feel. Now, you can find kasha in one of our mixes!