Joan Sowash, Owner and Operator of Aunt Sissy's Kitchen is often asked "Where did the name Aunt Sissy's Kitchen come from?" I am the sister of three brothers and the only granddaughter in our family. I am known as Sissy to my family. I had 13 nieces and nephews before I had my two children. Aunt Sissy's Kitchen just seemed the perfect name for my business to honor my family and our traditions.
I am a native Texan having been raised in Galveston, living part of my adult life in Houston and then moving to Corpus Christi in 1998. My love of cooking started as far back as I can remember in my Grandma's kitchen. My Grandparents had a farm in Hallettsville, Texas where my parents would gladly drive me and my brothers every summer for about 6 weeks. While my brothers were shooting each other with bb guns, hauling hay or drinking beer at the Shiner Brewery with Grandpa (yes back in those days kids had their own size glasses for tasting at the Brewery) I was savoring every ounce of knowledge I could from my Grandma in the kitchen.
There were no cookbooks, no recipes to be found anywhere. Grandma grew all vegetables and herbs in her garden. She taught me to use my natural senses to cook. We would search the garden for the ripest vegetables and herbs. They were all picked by site, touch and smell and then we made our daily trip to see the local butcher for meat for the main course. Fresh was the key to her cooking, everything was either picked or purchased daily. While most young girls at the age of 8 were learning to paint their nails I was learning how to debone a chicken and slow cook a beef tenderloin.
And then there was the baking. My Grandma would bake for us four kids like there were 20 or more people in the house. She would have old fashioned bread bags full of chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal cookies waiting for us when we arrived and there was always one of her Specialty German Chocolate Pound Cakes. On day 2 or 3 of our visit Grandma would get all the baking stuff out again and say "Sissy, I think we need to bake some more cookies for the boys they seem to be going through the first batch." That truly meant that there were at least 10 dozen more cookies, she was just ready to bake again. My Grandma's German Chocolate Pound Cake is one of our family traditions. My children expect it when they come home to visit and I am made to feel extremely guilty if that does not happen for some reason. My Grandma used to brag to perfect strangers that at the age of 8 years old I could make a German Chocolate Pound Cake from "scratch." I will count that as my first true culinary accomplishment.
As life goes on my summers on the farm ended and real life took over. I graduated from Galveston Community College with a business degree in legal studies and went on to pursue a career in the legal field. I landed my first paralegal job at one of the largest firms in Houston, Texas in 1985.
I married and then started my family in 1986 with the addition of my son Gregory and later with the addition of my daughter Erynn in 1989. While working in the legal field I watched the massive amount of catering professionals bring food into the office and one day decided to try my hand at a part-time catering business. With the help of Greg and Erynn, I operated a small successful catering company in Houston, Texas for approximately five years on a part time basis while maintaining a full time paralegal job and raising these two children as a single mom. At the start of the business Greg was 8 and Erynn was 5. Greg quickly became Mom's Quality Control Manager. He would do all the pre- packing for box lunches and then ensure that each lunch had the correct item and all the sides and utensils in it before it moved on for closing. He was also very good at loading and un-loading the Van.
Erynn on the other hand, had her own set of skills at the age of 5. She loved to peel potatoes and some nights would be so determined to finish a 20 pound bag of potatoes that I would have to pick her up out of the bag and put her to bed. She was also my official silverware roll maker and mashed potato taster. The potatoes didn't go out until Erynn said they were ready.
After moving to Corpus Christi in 1998 I continued my career here as a litigation paralegal. After 25 years in that profession I had achieved every imaginable certification known to a paralegal in the state of Texas and fortunate enough to have worked for some of the finest trial attorneys in Texas. This was my profession for a very long time. It fed me and my family, but one day it just wasn't enough any longer. I needed to unleash my real passion in life.
I started catering again part-time 5 years ago and quit my “day job” 3 years ago when Aunt Sissy’s Kitchen was officially established in the Coastal Bend. We continue to grow and service dinner and cocktail parties from 20 to 300 and also service many Oil Field Companies now working in the Eagle Ford Shale region.
Greg and Erynn have continued to assist the growth of the business while attending college and also holding down part-time and full-time jobs over the past 5 years. I am thrilled that with the growth of the business Greg joined me January 1st of this year as my Kitchen Manager and Erynn will be joining us April 1st as our Event Coordinator and Catering Manager. We now are a true “family owned” business.
My husband Rick is a successful Real Estate Appraiser in the Coastal Bend; however you will often see him either changing out chafing dishes, bartending or hauling items in and out of the Event. He is also a pretty good cook and is responsible for the Shrimp Ceviche on our menu that folks rave about.
Give us an opportunity to bid on your next Event and schedule a time to come by and meet us and taste some of our offerings. We would love to get to know you and look forward to feeding you soon.