Kevin Riordan: Soul food - and lots of love - in a Voorhees storefront

Daisy Smith and grandson Tyriek Bradford welcome visitors at the grand opening. Smith and her daughter had been selling goods at farmers markets.
Daisy Smith and grandson Tyriek Bradford welcome visitors at the grand opening. Smith and her daughter had been selling goods at farmers markets. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 23, 2013

On the label of Daisy Smith's signature applesauce, several essential ingredients aren't listed. But you can almost taste them.

"Determination, perseverance, hard work, and love," says Smith, whose sauce is featured at Momma's Home Made, her new Voorhees takeout.

Set between a grocery store and a gold exchange in the modest Southgate Plaza on Haddonfield-Berlin Road, Momma's Home Made celebrated its grand opening Monday. The menu is soul food with a fresh twist and a light touch.

"This is what the American dream is all about," Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. declared.

Economic development offices in the county and the township provided the start-up with technical assistance.

"We're always happy to welcome a new business, and they're family-owned and family-operated," said Voorhees Mayor Michael Mignogna. "Besides, I like this kind of food."

Smith had been producing a modest line of apple-centric products at home, and in a church kitchen, in partnership with her daughter, Jaconda Bell, a chef who worked in Atlantic City casinos for 16 years.

For the two African American entrepreneurs from Chesilhurst to open a commercial kitchen and takeout store - on Martin Luther King's Birthday, as well as the morning of President Obama's second inauguration - was sweet indeed.

"This is a mother-daughter business. We're two black women. And I'm a senior citizen," said Smith, 70. "I've got it all covered."

After she was seriously injured in a car accident on the White Horse Pike in Lindenwold about nine years ago, Smith had to leave her job as a loan officer.

Not one to sit around feeling sorry for herself, the mother of three and grandmother of 10 began making and selling takeout dinners at her home.

The platters included the earthy, no-additives applesauce she used to make for her children as a young mother. Soon, folks were asking for it by the jar.

David Evans, bishop of the Bethany Baptist mega-church in Lindenwold, offered to let Smith and Bell use the kitchen there free.

Mother and daughter began selling at local farmers markets, including at the Voorhees Town Center; Smith's applesauce and Bell's creation, Apple Carrot Cake in a Jar with Apple Sauce, found new customers.

On Monday the ribbon-cutting drew about 30 family, friends, and elected officials, and the atmosphere was made even more festive by the aromas from the kitchen.

Bell and her kitchen crew stirred, sliced, and iced, while other employees set out platters of roasted chicken with rosemary on the counter.

Having already enjoyed Momma's applesauce as well as her Apple Garlic Hot Wing Sauce (son William White Jr. came up with the recipe) at the Farmers Market, I found it hard not to fold up my notebook and simply chow down.

"This is what their family does," said Rukiah Alwin, a Chesilhurst councilwoman who has known Daisy and Jaconda for 30 years.

"They're always saying, come on over to the house! Come have some cake!" Alwin said with a laugh. "I am so proud of them."


Contact Kevin Riordan at 856-779-3845 or kriordan@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the Metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at www.phillynews.com/blinq.

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