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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

5/10 - CELEBRATING FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS: Tracy Hayward of The Perfect Puree and Kari Ruel of Napa Valley Life Magazine

This week we celebrate the success of two female entrepeneurs who have taken the giant step to pursue their dreams at great risk.  Tracy Hayward created the Perfect Puree starting in her parent's garage with no idea the company would become the US's leading producer of fruit and vegetable purees.  And Kari Ruel still produces here coveted magazine, Napa Valley Life in a room in her home, a magazine that graces hotels, restaurants and store counters all over the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Join us in raising your glasses to toast the success of these 2 brave and dedicated ladies!

As President & Founder, Tracy Hayward is the driving force behind The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley. Following in the footsteps of her entrepreneurial father, grandfather and great grandfather, Hayward, whose business acumen is self-taught, founded The Perfect Purée in 1988. Hayward nurtured her love of culinary arts at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, France. While completing the orientation course, Hayward became familiar with purees as an essential cooking ingredient which led to her decision to start the first U.S. based company producing quality purees for chefs. Her willingness to test her limitations led her to sell her home, providing her with the necessary startup capital.

The first 18 months involved using a back bedroom in her parents’ home as an office while doing the intensive preliminary work crucial to a successful business launch. Today, The Perfect Purée is the leading U.S. producer of premium fruit and vegetable purees, with nearly thirty exceptional flavors, ranging from staples like raspberry, strawberry and banana to exotics such as lychee, passion fruit and tamarind. Ms. Hayward’s responsibilities as President for the past 23 years have focused on guiding the business development of the company, having established a core team to manage the business needs at the Napa corporate office in all areas, including production, finance, and sales and marketing of the specialty gourmet product line. Ms. Hayward is now focusing her efforts and time to leading research and development.

In addition to her certificate from La Varenne, Ms. Hayward holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Southern California. Although her time is at a premium, she makes a point of giving to charitable causes. Through her Casa del Niño Charitable Foundation, U.S.A., she supports her interest and desire to improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged children. Since 2005, the Foundation has supported an after school English program, computer school and administrative offices at an orphanage in Unquillo, Argentina.

Locally, the company is active in the community through the Napa Valley Community Fund, with special focus on Cope Family Center and other local charities to support women and children. Proceeds from The Perfect Purée go to support the Foundation’s activities. Ms. Hayward enjoys current events, learning about early world history, hiking in the Sierras, opera, gourmet cooking, gardening and painting.

Kari Ruel is the founder and publisher of Napa Valley Life Magazine, a bi monthly lifestyle magazine aimed at the people who live, work and play in Napa Valley, CA.  She started the regional magazine in 1998.  In February of 2010 she created a Sustainable Life section to her magazine to provide useful information about living the good green life.
Ruel has a 25-year background in broadcast journalism and print media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting and Journalism with a minor in Political Science/Public Relations from Central Michigan University. She has worked as a reporter for both radio and television and has been published by Associated Press. Kari has lived in the Napa Valley for 20-years and is active in the business and socially conscious community. She has two children and three step children.
Her passion is telling other people’s stories and motivating others to be the best they can be.  She is an avid outdoors woman and enjoys cycling, hiking, camping and gardening and going on extreme adventures.

Perfect Puree Recipes from Sally James

Passion Fruit Macaroons

Makes about 20 macaroons

3 cups shredded coconut
2 tablespoons Culinary Traditions Passion Fruit Concentrate
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 300F.  Line 2 oven trays with parchment.

In a large bowl, toss the coconut with the Passion Fruit Concentrate and mix well to coat thoroughly.  Set aside.

Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites and salt together in a large, clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Beat for a minute longer until glossy and sugar is dissolved.  Add the vanilla and whisk just to combine. Gently fold the coconut into the egg whites using a large metal spoon. 

Place spoonful’s of mixture on lined trays leaving an inch between to allow for spreading. Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, swapping trays half way through cooking, or until golden and firm.

Leave on tray for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in a sealed and lined container.

Seafood Salad with a Passion Fruit Dressing

Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a starter

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 peeled raw shrimp
2 small or 1 large calamari steaks, cut into chunks and scored with a sharp knife
¼ cup white wine
3 cups torn frisee lettuce
1 small bulb fennel, halved and shaved or sliced thinly
4 leaves basil, torn
1 tablespoon Perfect Puree Culinary Traditions Passion Fruit Concentrate
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Heat half the oil in a sauté pan and add the prawns.  Cook, stirring until just turning opaque, then add the wine and simmer for a minute.  Drain, reserve liquid and set aside.  Clean the pan and reheat the remaining oil.  Add the calamari, scored side down and cook for 20-30 seconds or until just starting to curl, turn and pour in the reserved liquid. Steam for 30 seconds then drain and add to prawns. Refrigerate and serve cold or warm.

To make the salad, toss together the frisee and fennel and add the basil.  Whisk together the Passion Fruit Concentrate, juice and oil, season to taste.   Toss half through the salad.  Whisk mustard into remaining dressing. 

To serve, place mounds of salad in bowls, top with the seafood, and drizzle with the remaining dressing.

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