This periodic series of three images and responses to questions tells the stories of people of the Valley who love what they do. As Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
This month features Lisa Mason, owner and chef of Fiddlehead Cuisine, Moretown, Vermont.
How long have you lived in Vermont and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Moretown, so 37 years, with some hiatuses sprinkled in.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Five-year old Lisa would have said veterinarian, but I also clearly remember sleepless nights in high school dreaming of slinging food at the farmers market.
What was your first job and how did you get it?
My very first job was for Baked Beads assembling earrings by hand. After that it was at the Bridge Street Bakery on Sunday mornings. I think I might have answered a Valley Reporter job opening ad!
Who was the biggest influence in your decision to choose the work you now do?
It was my dad who always encouraged me to think out of the box and to create the job I wanted. He owned his own business and always encouraged me to be an entrepreneur, to be my own boss. I was lucky enough to have some neighbors who asked me to begin preparing meals for them well before I began my business, which sparked the idea of a service that solved the “dinner dilemma” problem we all face. We all want to eat well, but the time and energy that it takes to prepare healthy meals is often an insurmountable obstacle, so I designed a service aimed at solving that problem for as many families as possible.
What steps did you take to get where you are today/what sacrifices have you made to get to this point in the work you do?
A year out of college I realized all I wanted to do was read cookbooks and spend my money on ingredients for that night’s dinner. I decided to go to cooking school with a focus on nutrition and health, not knowing if it was a career move or for my own personal knowledge. I got a second job waitressing at night on top of my full-time day job and saved up until I had enough to move across country and pay for Natural Chef school in California. After that, it truly never felt like a sacrifice, just an adventure. We lived on nothing in a granny unit apartment. I went to school, then we moved back and I started my business within the year. I sacrifice security, but I gain freedom, creativity and so much more.
What is the best job advice that you’ve ever received?
If the job you want doesn’t exist, create it.
What are you most grateful for in your life?
I have the most supportive family. An incredible husband and two wild and brilliant daughters. I get to wake up every day and do the thing that I love on my own terms. I live in this beautiful landscape among people who care about fresh healthy food. I am incredibly lucky for all I have.
How do you give back?
I try to say yes to whatever my community needs when I have the ability to give. It has taken so many forms over the years, from teaching fifth and sixth graders a unit on healthy cooking, to coaching Girls on the Run, to donating to fundraisers. Currently I am serving on the HUUSD Board, and last February, I made cider donut batter for Moretown’s ECO Forest Festival.
What do you do in your free time?
Year round I play soccer with the amazing pick-up leagues in The Valley and Waterbury. I love to ski in the winter, both at Mad River and more recently trying to explore the backcountry. My friends and family are incredibly important to me and I prioritize spending time with them, as well as my kids who make sure free time is an almost laughable concept.
Do you have a favorite quote that you live by?
It’s a Swedish proverb: “Shared joy is double joy; Shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
To suggest someone who “Loves What They Do,” email Robbio at