Pungo Pantry in Virginia Beach is a rising business which focuses upon fresh, local ingredients

Matthew and Megan Brassart of Pungo Pantry are shown at home near Munden Point. Megan Brassart does the baking, and Matthew Brassart handles much of the farm work, such as caring for chickens that provide fresh eggs. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

VIRGINIA BEACH — You have to love to cook to channel your passion for home-baked goods into a career – and perfecting your recipes takes patience and a sense of humor, according to Megan Brassart of Pungo Pantry.

The muffins, quiches, or scones might not come out perfectly the first time that you try the recipe.

“So you have to learn to roll with the punches,” said Brassart, who, with her husband, Matthew Brassart, markets pastries, cookies, quiche and frittatas at pop-up markets and festivals, as well as at Sawdust Road in Pungo’s “downtown.”

Megan Brassart became interested in cooking as a child growing up in Pittsburgh, but she’s perfected her skills over several years and – as part of a Navy family – on two continents.

“My mother always loved to cook, and she loved entertaining people,” Brassart said, “and I always loved it too.”

Brassart later attended culinary school when she was living in Seattle, and she worked for a small caterer in that area.

Brassart expanded her knowledge of cooking and of how food is raised and marketed when Matthew Brassart’s Navy career took the couple to Sicily. She continued to cater, including for military events for officers and Italian dignitaries. 

“We decided that when we returned to the United States, we’d buy property, raise food and feed people,” Megan Brassart said.

Then, Matthew Brassart, a lieutenant, was transferred to Naval Station Norfolk. The couple now lives on three acres near Munden Point, and they raise the chickens that produce the eggs in their baked goods as well as some of the vegetables for the quiche and frittatas. 

Matthew Brassart, who is still on active duty, doesn’t bake, but he does do many of the farm chores, Megan Brassart said. The couple also raises chickens and turkeys for their own consumption.

The couple began marketing the business at the 2017 Pungo Strawberry Festival, but the learning process continued. Some items ended up in the trashcan while Megan Brassart perfected the offerings.

“You have to learn to throw things away,” she said.

Other challenges included the uncertainty of pop-up markets because it can be difficult to predict how many customers will be there or how much food to prepare.

Brassart’s favorite food is her homemade pasta, but she’s not marketing that yet.  She also particularly enjoys making quiche, which can change a little each week, she said.

“I source as locally as possible,” said Brassart, noting that ingredients change depending on the availability of local products. “I try to let the market drive me.”

Flour is provided by Carolina Ground, an Asheville, N.C., mill that produces flours from regionally grown grains. Fruits and vegetables that the Brassarts don’t raise are provided by local farms – New Earth Farm, Cullipher Farm Market and Cromwell’s Produce. 

And most of the cheeses for the quiche and frittatas are from New Earth Farm Market.

In addition to Sawdust Road, Pungo Pantry products are still available at pop-up markets throughout the area.

A roasted sweet pepper and goat cheese quiche, among the Pungo Pantry goods sold recently at Sawdust Road in Pungo — though the variety of quiche changes regularly. The quiche has peppers from New Earth Farm in Pungo and cheese from The Creative Wedge at Hilltop. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
Chickens on the Brassart family’s land near Munden Point provide fresh eggs for Pungo Pantry’s goods, which also use ingredients from local farms. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

For more information about Pungo Pantry, follow @PungoPantry on Facebook or email pungopantry@gmail.com.

© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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