Ann Campbell grew up in the Philippines. She wanted to be a doctor, but at her parents’ urging she studied accounting. After that came nursing school.
She married an American. They lived in Singapore for 10 years, then moved to Manhattan. With 3 kids their apartment grew cramped, so in 2008 they headed to Westport.
Now Ann’s story really gets interesting.
She was always intrigued by food. So in 2014 Ann put her degree from New York’s French Culinary Institute — sorry, I forgot to mention that, or that she’d worked at Oceana in the city! — to use.
Friends here told her how hard it was to make good food after a long day at work.
So she began cooking fresh, prepared meals for busy Westport families. With zest (and flavors).
On Thursday, Ann emails a menu. (To join the list, email firstname.lastname@example.org). The ordering deadline is Sunday.
She includes whatever inspires her. She usually tries to add something new and special.
Armed with orders, Ann shops. She hits a variety of stores, from Whole Foods and specialty stores, to Asian markets in Westchester.
On Monday and Tuesday, Ann heads to the commercial kitchen at Harlan Publick in South Norwalk.
With the help of fellow Westport moms Nicole Von Dohlen and Sally Spencer, Ann makes fresh seasonal salads, soups, main courses and other family-friendly dishes. She draws from an eclectic palate of world cuisines — Asian, European, fusion — always with the freshest ingredients.
The 3 women bring the fully-cooked meals to Ann’s house. On Tuesday at 3 p.m., customers pick them up. There’s free delivery for orders over $75.
Soups — especially Mom’s Chicken Dumpling, from Ann’s own stock (with homemade dumplings) — are quite popular.
So is her miso salmon with coconut black rice and vegetables. Also her potstickers. Kids love (of course) Ann’s mac and cheese.
Some families order every week; others, every other week, or once in a while. There’s no pressure (other than the hunger pangs you get reading the menu).
“I love to cook,” Ann says. “When people love my cooking, that makes me so happy.”
Almost as happy as Ann’s very satisfied — and well-fed — customers.
(PS: You may have eaten some of Ann’s great food without knowing it. She recently started filling Donut Crazy’s refrigerator, on the eastbound side of the train station. Hat tip: Jeff Manchester)