The Butcher: Poppy and Parliament’s Chef Kristen Caroselli
Born and raised in Bloomingburg, New York, Chef Kristen has lived in Huntsville for over 2 years becoming Executive Chef and General Manager of Poppy and Parliament at the age of 26.
Poppy and Parliament's co-owner Chef Barry O’ Connor saw potential in this young chef. She's called "Baby Barry" because of how similar the two are. Chef Barry taught Kristen about the industry, from butchery to European cuisine.
She remarks, “To have climbed to where I am at my age is really cool for me. It still blows my mind on a daily basis.”
Attending Johnson & Wales for baking & pastry arts, she then decided to pursue a career in culinary. “I never thought I would be a chef, but opportunities presented themselves and I just couldn’t say no. Now, I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else.”
“I love the emotion that can be shown through food - it’s so much deeper than most people understand. I’ve watched customers be brought to tears over a meal that we have served them. I’ve watched members of staff turn their lives completely around because of the kitchen. Food is a very powerful thing.”
With Huntsville growing like it is, Kristen believes, “If you know what you’re doing here and market to the right audience, there is much opportunity for success.” She has also noticed palates changing and people becoming more curious with trying new foods. “The more adventurous people become with their palate, the more the food scene in this city can grow.” The Poppy owners just announced that they're opening a pub in Athens, The Salty Cod.
While not working, you can find her exploring the outdoors and traveling. “I am a big traveler - I will get on a plane and travel somewhere new for literally two days. Immersing myself in new and unfamiliar cultures is how I love to learn.”
When asked what three things she would grab if there was an alien invasion, (we live in Huntsville after all, we have to think about these things), Chef Kristen wittingly replied, “My high school was in the UFO capital of the northeast, so I can’t say this is the first I’ve thought about this. I have no qualms about coexisting with aliens, but if I wasn’t welcome I would take my knife kit, a set of pans, and a tent and do my best to make it in the wild.”
The Baker: The Bakingtist's Heidi Kizer
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Heidi Kizer just opened her brick and mortar bakery, The Bakingtist, in downtown Huntsville.
She started baking for farmer’s markets while living in California. “I baked eight loaves of bread for my first markets.” When she and her husband moved to Huntsville she sold baked goods at Greene Street Market, then Bailey Cove, then MidCity.
What keeps her going through days of exhaustion? Heidi beams with a passion for baking, “I love the challenge of developing and producing baked goods that make people happy. With every product, I want it to be one of the best someone has ever had!”
Heidi’s life became surreal in recent months when she opened the doors to her own bakery. “The dream that lived in my mind for so long was a reality. Right in front of me was the bakery I envisioned that encourages science through baking.”
Heidi, like so many, credits her success to Huntsville’s unparalleled support of small businesses. And science! “I am pretty confident everyone here is a little bit of a science nerd. I finally have found my people!”
When asked What would you take with you in an alien invasion?, Heidi laughs, “My husband Justin, water, and 4000% a Groundbreaker Cookie. I mean...the aliens would probably find it both funny and delicious, this has to mean I survive!”
The Candlemakers: Cate & Co’s Allison and Joe Conn
One night Allison Conn had a dream. “I dreamt I had a big warehouse full of work tables and rack after rack of candles and supplies. I don't dream very often so I thought maybe it meant something. I spent the next 3 to 4 months researching everything I could about candles - wax types, wicks, chemical free fragrances, running test batches, creating labels, and then decided to launch my own business. Five years later, here we are.”
She and her husband Joe run Cate & Co Candles together. “I love that it's something we can be proud of together. It's a really fun business for us and allows us to be creative and meet a lot of cool people.”
The couple spent almost a year going door-to-door taking products to stores from Huntsville to Knoxville. “When we landed our first store, that was HUGE! It was a full circle moment. We are now in 13 stores in Alabama and Tennessee. We're also in a great number of stores as private labels, and we can create custom candles for businesses.”
The Conns hope to one day have their own brick and mortar location. "I think Huntsville is the perfect place for us because it still has that small town feel, but with with a big support system for small businesses."
When they're not candle making, you can find them spending time together with their kids and traveling - their kids are 12, 15, and 16. They are dog lovers with seven of their own, and also huge Tennessee Volunteers fans. “College football season is our favorite!”
Three things they would grab during an alien invasion? “Our family, the dogs and family photo books!”
“The dream that lived in my mind was a reality. Right in front of me was the bakery I envisioned for what felt like forever that encourages science through baking.”