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aboutsu’s story

how a Dutch communication director ends up in Italy making granola

Food is something amazing. It is everything. Well, not everything – but it does have a distinct significance in life.

Entire days revolve around food. Because it does so much more than just nourish you and provide your body energy. Food makes you come together as a family; to start the day with breakfast or to finish the day over dinner. Sharing stories about what happened that day, what made you happy or sad. The occasional argument and lots of laughter. All with food as the glue that brings you together around the table, as a family or a group of friends.

dutch girl

Growing up in a small town on the border of the Netherlands and Germany, I always like to refer to my family as a typical Italian family hidden in ‘tall-blond-blue eyed’- bodies. Even though we are very Dutch, food for us has as much of an importance as it does to an Italian family.

Some of the most vivid memories of my childhood are around food. My highlight of the week used to be joining my mother on Friday evenings to go grocery shopping. Visiting all the specialty shops and picking out the best ingredients and produce for whatever would be on the menu that weekend. About 25 years later I do the same thing with my husband on Saturday at the market in Padova, which has now become our family ritual.

weekend feast

Whilst growing up, food would be pretty straight forward during the week. But on the weekend my mother would go all out, hence the serious shopping task on Friday evening. She would make the prefect honey and thyme sauce to accompany lamb racks – which was no small task, since it took a rough 24h to cook the sauce to perfection- and us kids would help her in the kitchen to make an apple crumble cake with the sour apples from the tree in our backyard. Afterwards we would fight over the various utensils, in the hope of getting a little leftover cake batter. Come Spring time, she would often serve a massive steaming pan of mussels (with French fries and mayonnaise of course) in the garden. In a bright orange pan that my dad still uses for cooking today.

just try it all

I was brought up with the idea that kids are curious about learning different tastes, just offer them everything to try. When I was about 2 years old I spend an entire evening sitting underneath a table in a French countryside restaurant, whilst my parents handed me their empty escargot shells so I could lick out the remaining garlic butter.

every beginning is hard

When my mother passed away at a young age, my dad took it upon himself to continue cooking for us like she had always done. Some wonderful family friends pitched in too, and for years to come they would bring us home cooked meals a couple of times every week.
When I was about 13, I started cooking for our family every now and then. There was a lot of trial and error at first, but I had high ambitions!

One year, I insisted on preparing a 9-course Christmas dinner for 12 people, consisting of all new dishes I had never cooked before.. a rookie mistake that resulted in spending 3 days straight in the kitchen and lots of unnecessary stress.
My dad was amazing and let me figure it out myself, even though I was unbearable and acted like a little Gordon Ramsey, heavily criticising my 6 year old sister for not slicing the tomatoes exactly the way I asked her to.

No worries, my kitchen manors have vastly improved since then.

the family, plus few

Then there was this other typical Italian trade that runs in our family: making sure you have enough food to feed the family and the village. My mother always cooked for our family of 5, plus a few extra. Unexpected guests would regularly pop around and without exception, they would be offered to share a meal with us.

When I turned 18 and moved out of the house, I found myself living in a tiny room with an even smaller kitchen in Amsterdam. I was so used to cooking for a large number of people that during the first few months I would continuously end up with food for roughly 6 people instead of 1.
Living in Italy now, I have continued this tradition and often bring food to neighbours, friends or share it with la famiglia.

I think there’s just no better present then a nourishing home cooked meal waiting for you after a long day.

basically food is always on my mind

I get up with the thought of breakfast, and whilst I’m enjoying that, I think about the dishes that I am going to create for lunch and dinner.

Holidays that we take are always pretty much centered around food. Before I have even looked at flights or hotels, the restaurants are already booked. And when I reminiscence with my sisters or husband about trips we took together, it’s all about the food we tasted and the restaurants we visited.

So now you might wonder why I didn’t start a restaurant but instead a company that makes ready-to-eat food.

Well that’s pretty simple: there are a lot of amazing restaurants and a lot of even better chefs.
What I wanted to do instead, is create something that brings value to people in a different way. By creating something that I was missing myself, and I am sure other people have a need for too:

Ready-to-eat food that is as healthy and tasty as an Italian home cooked meal. Ready-to-eat food without compromises.

one step back

Let me take you one step back to explain to you where my need for tasty and healthy ready-to-eat food comes from.

After my student years in Amsterdam, I entered into the corporate world. Whilst I was travelling around the world, working as a global communications director, I found it one of the most frustrating things: not being able to find ready-to-eat food that is not a compromise in taste and health. Travelling and working long hours is taxing enough as it is on your body, the last thing you want is food that only slows you down more.
I came across a lot of products, such as energy bars, that would sell an energy boost but do the exact opposite.
Packed full of sugar, they would induce the infamous sugar spike effect and leave me feeling drained.

I was always in search of ready-to-eat food that would be just simply tasty and nourishing, the way I would make it at home. Instead I found products with unpronounceable ingredients and questionable nutritional values.

I resorted to preparing food and snacks at home, in the little free time I had left, and bring it with me whilst travelling.
I was dragging bags full of food through airports and railway stations, which was far from ideal – but at least I was able to fuel my body with the energy it needed to sustain this crazy lifestyle.There is more to Italian food than meets the eye, and it’s role in every day life is more complex than I could’ve ever imagined before moving out here.
Since I’ve been living in Italy my eyes and tastebuds have been treated to unimaginable feasts and my knowledge of food has expanded beyond recognition.
Seasonality is still the most important criteria for what will be on offer at the weekly market stalls and every region and city has its own speciality food or dish. I could travel Italy for the rest of my life and still not be able to taste everything it has to offer.

Not an ideal solution but at least I was able to fuel my body with the energy it needed to sustain this crazy lifestyle.

la bella Italia

Fast forward 7 years, when I moved to Italy and my food journey intensified even more.

The ritual of shopping, cooking and eating is an existential part of life, it is not a necessary means. So you take the time to do all three, with care and love.

You do your shopping at different stores where you will find the expert in each field: the butcher, fishmonger and baker. They all know you by name and will advice you on their best ‘catch of the day’.

By no means am I now a traditional Italian cook that only makes pasta and homemade bread. I love to combine the food knowledge I have picked up over the years from all the different cultures and countries I’ve visited. On my table you will find dishes from all over the world, combing the most interesting spices and fresh seasonal ingredients.

I grill Italian aubergines marinated in miso, date syrup and lemon from the Amalfi coast. My fish from the oven is served with grilled fennel, seasoned with kardamon and slow roasted red unions coated in a few drops of sweet soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.

Whilst I adopted the Italian philosophy of eating as my own, I still had the issue of time on my hands, or better said, the lack thereof.
I was getting even more spoiled when it came to fresh tasty food and less willing to compromise.

I found some smart ways of cooking, such as preparing things ahead of time and cooking in batches where possible, but I also dreamt of finding ready-to-eat food for those days or meals when I really didn’t have the time to cook myself.

After lots of research into the food industry it seemed impossible: creating ready-to-eat food that is as good as a home cooked meal, without it costing a fortune and possible produce on a large scale.

I like a good challenge, so I got to work based on this recipe:

Recipe: su.sana superfood

(ready-to-eat food as healthy & tasty an Italian home cooked meal)

  • ½ cup of frustration
  • 1 cup of stubbornness & perseverance
  • 7 handfuls of great ingredients
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of positive energy
  • a sprinkle of world experience

mix everything together and slow cook for roughly 8 months. The result; the first product coming out of my kitchen: su.sana granola.

A granola that is positively healthy and tasty, has all the nutritional values that you expect from a good breakfast but most importantly: it is exactly the same as the granola I make in my kitchen for my own family.

su.sana granola – real Italian granola from my kitchen to yours.

why the brand is called su.sana superfood

First of all ‘su’ is short for Susan. I’m the CEO and the founder of the company. Since the journey and the reason to start this company is very personal, it only felt right to attach my name to it. Not because I like to see my name in a logo, but because I believe that real brands with a purpose should have a real voice, and not hide behind a made up name.

‘sana’ is the word for healthy in Italian, as simple as that.

And last, but not least: ‘superfood’.
Because we believe that superfood is the type of food that consists of real, whole food ingredients. Not the newest hyped elixirs and powders, just real food that will give you everything you need. All the super powers to tackle the day ahead and keep all the balls in the air.