Welcome to our family. Mark Near is the founder and foodie who created Rachael’s Spaghetti Sauce. Learn how it was made famous because of his daughter Rachael’s second grade homework assignment.
My mother was a single parent who raised six children on her own. I was the oldest child. By the time I was 10 years old I started cooking for my younger brothers and sisters to help out. Preparing, cooking and eating delicious food have always been one of my passions. Anyone who enjoys cooking will tell you, it is a beautiful way to experience each of life’s senses all at once. Moreover, it is a deeply personal way to express love and family is love.
Spaghetti and sauce was always one of my favorites. I created my sauce pretty much out of necessity. I found that every jar of spaghetti sauce I purchased was truly pretty generic. All the sauces I bought needed to be doctored up with extra ingredients. My passion was to make a sauce that had everything already in it and was instantly ready to enjoy.
It was over 34 years ago that I first made the family’s spaghetti sauce recipe. At first I did it for me, then gradually for my family and friends. The popularity and the requests for my home made sauce started to blossom. Eventually, I started making it for softball parties, birthday parties, church functions and company picnics, etc. I heard feedback like, “Mark, this is the best sauce I have ever tasted.” “Mark, you nailed it.” “Mark, you need to sell this stuff!” It was quickly apparent to me that my sauce was becoming very popular within my own circle of friends and loved ones. It soon became a local favorite.
However, it wasn’t until my daughter Rachael came home with her second grade homework assignment that I finally committed my recipe to paper. The story goes as follows: Rachael came home one afternoon and said, “Daddy, we need to make your Sketti for my homework.” I replied, “We do? Why?’ Rachael continued, “My teacher told us we are supposed to go home and choose our parents’ best recipe, help make it, then bring it to school for the whole class to try. Then we are supposed to write down the recipe so we can put in The Parent Cook Book that our class is making.” I was moved that she asked me and not her mother. I probably had the advantage because my spaghetti sauce was always one of Rachael’s favorites.
We wrote out the recipe and the instructions for making the sauce. I let Rachael do the whole process step by step with daddy’s help of course. Needless to say we thrashed the kitchen to my wife’s dismay. I don’t think there has been a bigger mess since. It was pretty much was an all day project especially when you are working with a seven year old. She titled her homework assignment, “Daddy’s Sketti”. She received an “A” on her project and the spaghetti sauce was a big hit with her teacher and the rest of her class mates.
I will treasure that day forever. For me it was truly an indelible bonding experience and a priceless memory for any parent. That assignment hangs on the proverbial refrigerator of my mind. I will always look on that day as I would a Norman Rockwell painting from the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
Over those years many have suggested that I do more with my beloved recipe. This whole story might have been nothing but a fond memory if my brother-in-law had not pursed a different angle and persuaded me to enter a pasta contest. So, in the summer of 2011 I entered my sauce at the California State Fair-Marin County, near San Francisco. The Fair was celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge and one of the exhibitions being held was a live pasta sauce contest. The sauces were judged based on aroma, taste and consistency. There was an audience during the judging and it was all very exciting: Rachael’s Spaghetti Sauce took home the Blue Ribbon! Hearing our name announced was completely surreal, knowing we were chosen over all those other good sauces was enormously rewarding.
Thinking, winning that contest might have been just luck; I immediately entered my sauce in two more State County Fairs. Rachael’s Spaghetti Sauce again took home two more ribbons. Winning honors in three consecutive contests clearly illustrated that there was an unmistakable appreciation for my recipe. Moreover, it validated my passion; I had no doubt now that it was finally time for me to bring my sauce to market and to share it with all who truly love a quality pasta sauce.
Rachael is now a young woman and I have loved her since the day God brought her into my life. She fills my heart with pride and becomes more beautiful with each day. So in the spirit of love and family and to the memory of our special day: I have decided to name my sauce after my little girl and now business partner, Rachael.
It is our heartfelt wish that this same feeling of love and warmth transcend the boundaries of time and finds its way in each jar of sauce that we make. So please, enjoy Rachael’s Spaghetti Sauce each time you want to celebrate life, family and fine food.
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