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Small Business Week: At Papa Ganache (Matawan), good vegan food is just half of a great story

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Papa Ganache owner Lisa Siroti: “I'm a foodie — our  biscotti is as good as you're going to get.”
Papa Ganache owner Lisa Siroti: “I'm a foodie — our biscotti is as good as you're going to get.” - (PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

Chocolate ganache with salted caramel. Carrot-maple curry with cream cheese frosting. Lemon buttercream with fresh blackberry filling. And crème brûlée buttermilk.

Hungry yet? Just wait until you hear how these cupcakes are made.

These are the recipes that helped Papa Ganache, a small-batch vegan bakery in Matawan, win $10,000 last year on Food Network’s popular baking competition show “Cupcake Wars.”

The all natural and mostly organic desserts — which are always 100 percent vegan and kosher and never contain dairy, eggs, preservatives, animal products, trans fat or hydrogenated oils — also were served at a VIP party for the 2013 People’s Choice Awards.

Want to hear something even more amazing? Lisa Siroti, the founder of Papa Ganache, is not a baker. Nor is she vegan.

As a private psychotherapist in the community of Matawan, Siroti “always wanted to create a social service spin and have some type of an agency.”

In Papa Ganache, Siroti created both. After providing financial support four years ago to open a bakery in Keyport, her partner — a vegan baker — left halfway through the business’ first year.

“We worked together for a while and I was able to understand the benefits of being vegan and gluten-free,” Siroti said. “I gained an education of the products and ingredients.”

Siroti kept business booming by moving Papa Ganache to Matawan in fall 2012.

“The cars we see here in five minutes, we didn’t see in three weeks in Keyport,” Siroti said. “Our revenue tripled with our move, the exposure from ‘Cupcake Wars’ and the growth of our social service agency.”

She’s talking about the Papa Ganache Project Strengths Development Program (PGP), which provides interactive and supportive therapeutic activities for children and families by using the backdrop of the vegan bakery whenever possible. Siroti started the agency in conjunction with the bakery.

“We bring children here to volunteer in the bakery as part of our community,” Siroti said. “We’ll also bring families to bake here together to help them be more cohesive.”

The New Jersey Children’s System of Care, including care management organizations such as Monmouth Cares, Coordinated Family Care and Ocean Partnership for Children, provides specially funded referrals for PGP to work with children and families within the local communities.

“Since we started four years ago, we’ve quadrupled in the number of providers that we have,” Siroti said. “We now have about 45 licensed clinical social workers, behavioral assistants, mentors and more.”

Siroti also loves how Papa Ganache provides comfort to many members of the community regardless of whether they are PGP clients, she said.

“A mother comes in with her kid and says, ‘She can’t have eggs, dairy, or flour — what can she have in your bakery?’” Siroti said. “I say, ‘Oh, wow, she can’t have those things? You see everything on the counter, in the case and in the jars? She can have anything she wants.’”

In addition to offering more than 35 different vegan cupcakes, Papa Ganache bakes cinnamon buns, crumb cakes, carrot cakes, cheesecakes, donuts, tarts, yodels, brownies, cookies, muffins and more.

The vegan bakery also takes requests for specialty wedding or birthday cakes, plans “Cupcake Wars”-themed birthday parties for kids in their kitchen and offers vegan lunch items such as pizzas, breads, strombolis, macaroni and cheese, bagels and soups.

Wheat-, nut- and sugar-free treats are also widely available — and every precaution is taken and tested to prevent cross-contamination within the shared kitchen.

Papa Ganache also continues to grow its wholesale business, as it recently entered into a partnership with Whole Foods to showcase specialty cupcakes at the Marlboro location.

In the future, Siroti would like to open satellite retail locations and an outpatient facility for PGP — but in the meantime, she hopes that Papa Ganache not only increases community awareness about social and environmental responsibility, but also promotes healthy eating habits.

“Vegan and gluten-free trends are here to stay,” Siroti said. “And I’m a foodie — our biscotti is as good as you’re going to get. And our apple pie pizza? I double dare you to find better.”

BIZ IN BRIEF

NAME: Papa Ganache

LOCATION: Matawan

FOUNDER: Lisa Siroti, LCSW, of Papa Ganache and the Papa Ganache Project Strengths Development Program

EMPLOYEES: 45 PGP providers and 14 bakery staff members

REVENUE: Exact figures undisclosed, but tripled over past two years

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Meg Fry

Meg Fry

Meg Fry covers manufacturing and retail. Meg joins NJBIZ with past production experience in the arts, film and television. She continues to write and market her own spec scripts and screenplays. You can contact her at megf@njbiz.com or @MegFry3 on Twitter.

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