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This article by Jamie Saxon was prepared for the September 15, 2004 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Cooking Up Success – In a Chicken Pot Pie
When Linda Twining and Kathy Herring went into the chicken pot pie business together two and a half years ago, calling it Twin Hens, little did they know their product would end up on the pages of the New York Times and the upscale foodie magazine Saveur — both in the same week. And to top it off, the research editors of the coveted “O List” in Oprah magazine saw the New York Times piece, taste tested the pie, and have just informed Twining and Herring that the pie will be included on the O List in a winter, 2005, issue.
Representatives from Whole Foods Market — which opens its newest store on Route 1 south (site of the former Pathmark) on Thursday, September 16 — stopped by the Twin Hens booth last year at the Fancy Food Show in New York and will carry the pies in the frozen food section. Twining and Herring will hold tastings at the store on Friday, September 17, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Sunday, September 19, 2:30 to 6 p.m.
On December 26, 2003, Twining was vacationing in Oregon when the New York Times called to say they were planning to run a story on the company on New Year’s Eve Day. On December 31, Twining was literally skiing down the slopes when her cell phone rang. It was her husband calling to tell her that the article had hit in Florence Fabrikant’s food column that day and to say that he had also pulled out of the mailbox the January issue of Saveur — featuring an article on Twin Hens.
The result of the double exposure? “Last January and February are just a blur,” says Twining.
Part of Twin Hens’ success is most certainly attributable to PR savvy. After graduating from Goucher in 1985, Herring went to La Varenne cooking school in Paris before starting a career in PR in New York. It was her idea to drop off a hot cooked pot pie one day to Colman Andrews, an editor at Saveur — at lunchtime. “The next day,” says Twining, “they called us and said ‘We loved it.’”
Twining and Herring, who both live in Princeton, met about five years ago when their children attended Cherry Hill Nursery School in the Unitarian Church in Princeton. Twining had graduated from Peter Kump’s cooking school in New York the year before (she earned a bachelors in economics and dance at the University of Washington in 1982). “I was bringing in all these fancy decorated cakes to the preschool,” says Twining. Herring approached Twining with the idea of giving cooking classes from her home.
The two hit it off and their business evolved into a food delivery enterprise, Twin Fish To Go. “Our signature dish was our chicken pot pie,” says Twining, who grew up in Washington state, the daughter of a lumber business consultant and a grammar school teacher. “There was a lot of demand (for the pie) and it seemed the most feasible business when we wanted to go the retail route.”
Today, the frozen pies, which come in two sizes, family and individual, are sold at Nassau Street Seafood, Pennington Market, Whole Earth, and Terhune Orchards, and at www.twinhens.com.
So what makes this pie — which several customers say they serve to company — so good? “We just make it like you would make it at home,” says Twining. They use Bell & Evans’ free-range chicken raised on an Amish farm in Pennsylvania; organic vegetables from Cascadian, a company in Washington State; high-quality butter from a farm in Wisconsin; unbleached and unbromated flour; and no preservatives. “The recipe doesn’t exist on paper,” says Twining. “It has evolved over time.”
— Jamie Saxon
Twin Hens, www.twinhens.com. Tastings at Whole Foods, Route 1 south, Friday, September 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday, September 19, 2 to 6 p.m.
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