Five Star Foodies® is a locally owned, family run business that provides gourmet vegan foods and drinks to the Cincinnati area and online. Five Star Foodies is dedicated and compassionate about food thanks to a family tradition that’s been passed on from generation to generation.

Valerie Williams is the CEO of Five Star Foodies. The inspiration behind the company began over 30 years ago, when Valerie was just 14. Inspired by Dick Gregory’s book, “Cookin With Mother Nature”, Valerie marched into her family’s kitchen and threw away all of the unhealthy foods. She then immediately declared that the family was now vegetarian. According to Valerie, her family embraced the change.

My mom, having always been an outstanding and innovative cook, had no problem continuing on and hardly missed a beat without the meat and many other ingredients I wouldn’t allow.

The family developed many new recipes over the years.

In 1980, they started a vegan restaurant in Cincinnati, named Christo’s and Drivaki’s. It was a ground-breaking endeavor in the field of vegan cuisine. Valerie’s three eldest sons practically grew up in the restaurant. Yet, unfortunately, Christo’s and Drivaki’s was before its time, and the restaurant closed in 1987.

Having never forgotten those days, Valerie’s son Christian wanted to revive some of the award winning recipes. He helped Valerie create Five Star Foodies as a way to continue those quality, gourmet vegan foods.

Valerie is proud that she raised all five of her children vegetarian. Strict vegetarians and vegans question their food sources. They must develop a real relationship and trust between themselves, as consumers, and their food sources. Ultimately, a large number of vegetarians, and vegans, become foodies. Foodies are people who are passionate and educated about quality food and nutrition.

It is our passion to create outstanding delicious and nutritious vegan food. Our company is a business with a “conscious.” This is to say we feel that throughout our daily practices, operation, and leadership we have a higher purpose that transcends profit maximization. Our focus instead is on delivering value to our stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the community. We exemplify the culture of a conscious business and the acronym TACTILE (Trust, Authenticity, Caring, Transparency, Integrity, Learning and Empowerment). Tactile means something that can be touched and felt. When a person walks into a conscious business, such as ours, they can actually feel the positive energy in the air. This is what we try to create and pass on to the energy, integrity and mouth-watering deliciousness of our food.

Indeed, Valerie raised more than vegetarians. She raised five foodies. They don’t just eat and cook food. They live it.

The kitchen is where the key members of our family and company feel at home and find the most joy! It’s where we come together to rejuvenate and to ignite our passions through food.

Valerie’s mom, Mary, always at the heart of the family business, helps out with Five Star Foodies five days a week. Valerie’s father, an artist, also lends a hand when needed.

Valerie has been in the food industry for over 35 years. She has worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, worked in the grocery retail business, and catered. Valerie also passed the passion on to the next generation.

My son Graydon is a trained chef with a food science degree and would remind you of a mad scientist in the kitchen. He gets that look in his eye when he starts to create and develop anything to do with food.

Mary (Mom), Graydon, and Valerie Williams

Valerie’s eldest son Mundy is a self-taught graphic artist and creates all of the company’s graphics, packaging, Web site, and marketing materials.

Valerie’s son Christian, her nephew Josh Goldstein, and her sister Sarah Wise help fill in the remaining spots of the company. Five Star Foodies was founded in 2007, and thanks to all of the combined talent and passion, by 2008, the family business was already a success.

Five Star Foodies offers a variety of vegan items that you can find in local stores and online. In the refrigerated section are an assortment of ciders that are made from raw, fresh ingredients. The ciders start with fresh squeezed apples from local orchards, and other raw ingredients are added for variety. The Ginger Cider is the company’s most popular drink, and is also my wife’s favorite. It’s a tart and fruity cider with a satisfying amount of fresh, spicy, ginger. The new Veggie Cider “Green Label” is my favorite.

The Veggie Cider Green has vegetable juices added, so it’s a guiltless way to consume your regular serving of vegetables. There are similar veggie cider drinks from other vendors, but I’ve yet to find one as enjoyable as Five Star Foodies’ veggie mix. It’s naturally sweet, and the fresh ginger and hint of celery adds a bit of zing. It makes for a healthy drink that’s every bit as enjoyable as a carbonated soft drink, like ginger ale. The Veggie Cider Red is similar, but contains added beets. The Hibiscus Cider has more vitamin C than orange juice, but contains a lot less sugars. A swig of the Jamaican Cider will make you think you’re in the Caribbean.

In the freezer section, you’ll find Five Star Foodies’ frozen vegan selections, like their best selling Artichoke Burger. Kids love the Sloppy Joe, and the flame roasted Gourmet Griller is great all year around. You just heat and eat, so it’s easy to add these meatless alternatives to your diet.

Valerie describes her influences and inspirations.

My influences are Julia Child, Suzy Adrian from La Petite Pierre, international cuisine, exotic spices, exotic salts, kimchi, kombucha, family meals, any reason to celebrate, and my unquietable mind that is constantly composing new menus and infinite product possibilities.

Valerie is proud of all of the hard work that’s been put into Five Star Foodies and the accomplishments that they’ve achieved.

It’s easy to think of all the mistakes we’ve made but what’s more amazing is all the things we’ve intuitively done right. I’m proud of our endurance (since it’s been a little like being on a stair master) and our ability to hold on to our vision all the while continually finding ways to get around all the many obstacles a small business faces daily. We’re thankful to have been graced with so many good people along the way, and hope that continues. So it’s not a single prized accomplishment, it’s everything that we’ve created thus far and continue to create each day. Five Star Foodies for us is a prized accomplishment!

Five Star Foodies is dedicated to providing quality and kind food. Purchasing their products supports local food providers and a family that cares.

We are a vegan company, but the most important thing to us is the quality and integrity of our ingredients. We strive to promote and provide healthy eating solutions, even if it starts with only one meal a week.

Valerie has the following words of advice for those trying to get started in the food industry.

Get ready for the ride of your life! It’s been like a constant treadmill. There’s so much uncertainty—endurance and courage are your only hope and best friends, but that’s where all your growth lies, personal and business. I’ve been in the food business my whole life and there is a specialness to the relationship bonds that are created under the stress of long hours, creative energies and pushing each other to the limit.

Five Star Foodies is doing what they love, with the people they love. It’s a simple formula, really, and it produces food that is truly made with passion.

You can find Five Star Foodies’ delicious entrées and beverages at Whole Foods Market throughout the mid-Atlantic region, Bigg’s/Remke Markets, Keller’s IGA in Clifton, Clifton Natural Foods, Cincinnati Natural Foods, Park + Vine, Madison’s at Findlay Market, Keegan Seafood, Coffee Emporium, Bon Bonerie, Salt of the Earth, Carl’s Deli, The Loving Hut, Susan’s Natural World, as well as many natural food stores throughout the Tri-County area and Washington D.C.

You can also purchase their products online, directly from the Five Star Foodies Web site. To stay in touch, like Five Star Foodies on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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