Belmont is now the home of “ChopChop, The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families,” an award-winning, quarterly, nationwide nonprofit publication with a circulation of approximately 2 million in 23 countries. Founder and President, Sally Sampson of Watertown, moved her organization into the former home of Glutenus Minimus at 695-697 Belmont St. in November.
Sampson started ChopChop Kids, Inc. in 2010 with a mission to inspire and teach children and families to cook and eat real food together. The magazine is geared for ages 2 to 12. One of the first steps she took to launch her magazine was gain the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics and before she knew it, the first issue hit the presses with 135,000 copies distributed to 35 states.
“I believe that poor nutrition stems in part from not cooking from scratch. The sooner you get kids involved in cooking–shopping, prepping, setting the table and yes, even doing the cleanup–the better it is for the kids themselves and for their families,” said Sampson.
She started cooking at the age of 14 because she decided to become a vegetarian with her friend in ninth grade. Her mother told her she would have to learn to cook for herself, and that’s exactly what she did. In addition, her daughter was diagnosed with pancreatitis at a young age which also inspired Sampson to learn to cook for a low-fat diet.
Growing, partnering with the White House
Sampson’s nonprofit continues to grow. In fall 2015 she began publishing “ChopChop’s WIC Edition,” a quarterly magazine geared towards the families who participate in the federal government’s supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Most recently, she launched “Seasoned,” a quarterly magazine geared for readers age 50 and over. Both these publications came out of demand from ChopChop’s growing audience.
“The secret to ChopChop’s success is that we were in the right place at the right time, and we have a team of really dedicated, smart, creative people,” said Sampson.
Each of ChopChop’s publications are designed for their target audiences. “ChopChop, The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families” is a colorful, kid-friendly, magazine which includes photos of healthy food and children preparing it in the test kitchen, step by step instructions, recipes, safety tips, word searches, mazes, interactive games, short, easy to read educational articles, gardening and planting instructions and a profile of a “healthy hero.” The recipes use a wide variety of healthy, fresh ingredients for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks such as blueberry refrigerator oatmeal, “granola popsicles,” black bean hummus, fruit smoothies, ricotta pancakes, pizza toast, easy cheese tomato soup, any-vegetable frittata.
Sampson relies on her Kids Advisory Board made up of eight children, ages 6 to 17, to taste test all her recipes and give ideas and feedback for content.
ChopChop relocated from 32 Calvin Road in Watertown to the 1,620 square foot space in Belmont, doubling its size with a test kitchen on one side and offices on the other. The former bakery’s kitchen has been completely renovated into a test kitchen to use for magazine photo shoots and recipe testing. Sampson also plans to hold vacation and summer camps there in the near future. On Dec. 8, 2016, a car crashed into the side where the offices were to be located and that space is currently undergoing reconstruction.
ChopChop has even had the opportunity to partner with The White House kitchen three times for feature stories in the magazine. Most recently, in spring 2015, an issue featured former First Lady Michelle Obama. The fall 2011 issue featured the White House Chefs. The spring 2012 issue featured Sam Kass, former assistant White House Chef and senior policy advisor for Healthy Food Initiative and Grover from Sesame Street.
On March 7, 23 Whole Foods Market locations throughout Massachusetts are donating 5 percent of their net sales that day to ChopChop to support its mission. Participating locations include Arlington, Boston, Dedham, Framingham, Brighton, Brookline, Hingham, Jamaica Plain, South Weymouth, Cambridge, Charlestown, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Newtonville, Somerville, Wellesley, Westford and Woburn.
“ChopChop and Whole Foods market share similar core values, including promoting health through healthy eating education. We look forward to using the 5 Percent Day contribution toward cooking classes at our new test kitchen and getting ChopChop’s message of cooking and eating real food together to families who need it most,” said Sampson.
ChopChop volunteers and staff will be distributing recipe cards and copies of the magazines at different Whole Foods locations during 5 percent Day on March 7. Visitors to the stores will also enjoy a scavenger hunt and have the opportunity to enter into a drawing to be chosen for an upcoming photo shoot.
Sampson is also the author and co-author of 23 cookbooks, including “ChopChop: The Kids Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family,” “The Olives Table” (with Chef Todd English), “The Fifty Dollar Dinner Party” and “Souped Up.” She contributes to “New York Times’ Motherlode Blog,” and has contributed to “Bon Appetit,” “Food and Wine,” “The Boston Globe and “Cooks Illustrated. Sampson also previously owned From The Night Kitchen in Brookline Village.