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Kitchen Aid

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Judie Byrd knows the power of a home-cooked meal. As a stay-at-home mother of three in Fort Worth the self-described foodie kept her family close by whipping up gourmet dinners every night. “They loved it,” she recalls. “Our philosophy was to make dinnertime a fun time.” Her friends didn’t exactly share the love. “I learned a lot of other moms hated to cook,” says Byrd, 57, “They didn’t like that part of their job description.”

How to make kitchen time easy for a generation of harried, multitasking home cooks? Byrd, who owns the Culinary School of Fort Worth and once took classes from Martha Stewart, says she’s got the answer: Super Suppers, a fast-growing chain of stores that provides clients with pretested recipes and the ingredients to make them on the premises. For $185, customers purchase 12 main courses they prepare under trained supervision, freeze them and reheat them in their own homes. Says Byrd: “There’s no shopping, no chopping, no mopping.”

That’s a pretty mouthwatering pitch. Since Byrd opened her first Super Suppers in Fort Worth with husband Bill, an entrepreneur, in ’03, the company has expanded to nearly 100 franchises nationwide. “Today you have to do all you can to fight for your family time,” says Kellie Bullinger, a married mother of two and Super Suppers devotee. “If thawing out dinner lets you sit down and have an hour with them, do it.”

Sharing that cherished time, says Byrd, whose own children are now grown, is the whole point. “Food is a catalyst,” she says. “You can get ’em home with food.” But now that business is booming, the culinary mogul admits she sometimes finds it hard to hit the kitchen herself. “If it’s been a really busy week,” she says, “we might just order a pizza.”