Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we introduce you to Christie Lombardo, owner of Freshyfare, creator of gluten-free snacks that give customers a sugary treat. A bouquet of her Collagen Kisses could be a hit for your Valentine. Learn more about how this hair stylist fitness lover turned her passion for health into a business providing unique treats for customers.
What is your role in the food industry?
My company creates delicious gluten- and guilt- free snack items that satisfy cravings for full fat and sugary sweets. I enjoy researching and developing ways to create foods that have nutritional and beauty benefits, that actually taste good & enhance the effort we put in at the gym. As a lover of food I know that finding a balance between enjoying what we’re eating and having the body we want (inside and out) is not always easy. I love to simplify that for my customers.
How did you first get involved in the food industry?
My true passions have always been food and fitness. Before I started Freshyfare, I searched for treats to curb my sweet tooth that wouldn’t ruin all of the work I was putting in at the gym. I was disappointed by the products labeled healthy that were on the market at the time. For one reason or another they didn’t work for me, so I started playing around with protein powders and natural ingredients. A few months later Freshyfare’s four original Powerballz were born. We started selling locally at my friend’s frozen yogurt shop and later through our online store.
I am a hairstylist/ hair extensions specialist by trade, and I was recommending they use collagen products. Then we realized we could incorporate it into Freshyfare’s product line, so our collagen product line was born. Collagen is high in protein so it’s great for strong hair, skin, nails, bones & digestion.
If you had one message for people who don’t live and breathe food like we do, what would that message be?
I would recommend that they take a trip into New York City and try some of the great restaurants in the City. I especially enjoy The Spotted Pig for a casual cozy night -- they have the BEST burger and shoe string French fries in the city. I rarely order chicken at a restaurant but the roasted chicken with acorn squash and Brussels sprouts at The Milling Room is so moist it melts in your mouth. The Smith in Flatiron is great for brunch on a Saturday or Sunday. Roberta’s in Brooklyn has the best pizza; I always go for the Margherita. You also cannot go wrong at Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar in Midtown with its filet mignon, specialty cocktails and fried olives, to name just a couple favorites.
What food trends are most influential in what you do?
We are a health food company so dieting trends influence our brand a lot. We work hard to develop products that provide that sweet something regardless of the type of diet someone is on. We are always on the hunt for new, clean ingredients, that are high in protein and healthy fats yet low in sugar.
What is the most significant change you’ve seen in the food industry?
I feel that people are becoming a lot more selective about what they eat and are trying to make healthier choices most of the time. Healthy food is everywhere and more available than it’s ever been before.
What's your big splurge food item?
Any type of cheese, whether it's cheddar or brie to serve to guests, Parmesan to sprinkle on top of pasta or ricotta to make my homemade cannoli filling. I always choose the better cheese as they are not created equal!
What keeps you motivated as a food professional?
The response and feedback from our customers keeps me motivated to create new products. I also find motivation from some of my favorite food bloggers like the Food God, Skinny Taste, Rachel Mansfield, Paleo OMG and New Fork City on Instagram.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
I love to bake cookies. Whether it be sugar cookies with sprinkles, lemon glazed cookies, biscotti, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, there is nothing better than a fresh batch of cookies coming out of the oven!
What’s your favorite meal to order in a restaurant?
I love to order things that I don’t usually make for myself at home. Homemade pasta with a Bolognese sauce is right on top of that list.
Tell us about a memorable meal you’ve had.
After a day of wine tasting in Napa with friends, we visited La Tra Vigne (unfortunately, it’s now closed) in St. Helena for dinner. It was sunset and the atmosphere was absolutely perfect. The perfectly warm fresh mozzarella was served on sliced tomato and a toasted baguette, followed by an endive salad with a light champagne dressing and a wonderfully prepared octopus. We ended the meal with a slice of cheesecake and pistachio gelato that were both out of this world.
Tell us about food or ingredient would you never use or eat.
I absolutely hate flan. People love it and I've tried it many times, but I just don't enjoy the taste or texture. When it comes to food, I am very big on texture. I won’t eat cottage cheese or rice pudding either.
What cookbooks or cooking classes are most important to you? Why?
Cookbooks that use gluten free ingredients and my favorites, especially Against All Grain. I love cookbooks that give me ideas for new products.
Where would you most like to live? Why?
New Jersey. I love New York City and all the fabulous restaurants and attractions it has to offer but the noise, traffic and crowds are something from which I like to escape. I can get to the City in 30 minutes or less from where I live in Jersey, and I can also get to a beach quickly in the summer. New Jersey has many great hidden gems when it comes to restaurants as well.
Please describe your perfect day.
I love starting the day with coffee and a great workout before spending the rest of it at a winery in perfect weather, with endless hot bread, olive oil, cheese and olives. Finish things off with dinner outdoors at a charming restaurant with delicious food.
Connect with Christie:
LinkedIn: Christie Lombardo