Sean Patrick Butler of Maria's granola is a busy man. In addition to making grainless, natural, soy-, dairy-, and gluten-free granola, he is active in a variety of charities, including ones for the prevention of childhood obesity, and he runs Food Studio B in Chelsea, which is a combination cafe and catering company, providing fresh, healthy food and home meal replacement plans for a variety of diets and lifestyles.
Growing up in the food industry in Europe and with a background in corporate food kitchens, Sean knows a lot about the commercial side of the business, though he credits his Austrian grandmother Maria (and the granola's namesake) with his love of natural cooking. Sean says she "mentored my culinary skills and passion for all things scratch." And about five years ago once his son was born, Sean's wife agreed to let him leave the corporate world and use their savings to start Food Studio B to focus even more on healthy cooking. "We're where nature meets the kitchen," Sean says. "We're a scratch based facility. We're beyond organic. We put our hands on everything." And when Sean's gluten-intolerant nephew was sent to Afghanistan with the military, Sean began developing Maria's granola so he could send healthy, portable, safe food for his nephew to eat during tours of the desert.
Freshfully market carries three varieties of Maria's granola – Tropical, which includes seeds, nuts, dried pineapple, dried mango, dried banana, and local honey; Fruit and Nut, which includes, seeds, nuts, coconut, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, cinnamon, and local honey; and Chocolate, which includes seeds, nuts, dark cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, vanilla, cinnamon, and local honey. "We like to be able to explain to people exactly what's in their food," Sean says. "We can control allergies because we have our hands on everything." The granola is baked and then broken into clusters, ideal for cereal, Sean says.
Maria's and Food Studio B are vehicles for Sean to share his healthy lifestyle with the community. "We just love our community," he says. "Our philosophy is to treat everyone like family. My grandmother instilled that in me. If you treat everyone like family, you'll have them forever." With plans in the works for serving the homeless downtown during Thanksgiving and Christmas, supporting youth soccer in Chelsea ("Anything to get kids moving and shaking," Sean says.), setting up a scholarship for culinary schools, and supporting the Black Warrior River Alliance, Sean's passion to extend his philosophy is evident.
As a freelance writer and copy editor, Emily Brown gets to juggle many roles, including work-at-home mom. She likes to cook more than she likes to follow recipes, and she likes her vegetables extra crunchy – no beets allowed. If she could make you anything, it would be a roasted chicken. Her baby is beyond adorable.
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