Meghan Chopus
Owner and Chef, Sweet Loretta's Cookstove (at the Fremont Market, Sundays 10 am-5 pm, also private catering for small groups), 720-1651.

Meghan is as down-to-earth and charming as you would expect the proprietor of a business named Sweet Loretta's Cookstove to be. I caught her as she was closing up after a long Sunday at the Fremont Market, so I didn't get to witness her typical customer, but I'm guessing a girl this foxy who makes food this good has hungry boys buzzing around her all the time.

Where did your career start?

"My family owns a bed-and-breakfast and a catering company in Montana. My mom is Loretta. I've been in the family business for about 10 years. I'm in culinary school right now at Seattle Central. I moved out here because we eventually want to do something bigger in Montana, so I decided I should spend some time in the city and get a diploma for what I've been doing for so long."

So do you do business outside of your weekends at the market?

"Yes--catering. I now do small, intimate dinner parties in people's houses, but I started at the market because I used to come here all the time, and there wasn't any food other than the occasional hot-dog stand."

What's a typical weekend menu look like?

"I have a few specialties. I make a sweet-potato soup with candied pecans, and a rosemary pot roast with goat-cheese potatoes au gratin. I always have stuffed foccacia sandwiches on the menu, which is a recipe I've had forever. It's basically comfort food with a little flair."

And how did the catering business evolve from there?

"I met a lot of regulars and supportive people through Sweet Loretta's--a really cool crowd. I never wanted to do high-end catering. I did enough of that in the family business. I stick to parties of 20 or less, and it's a lot more fun--much more intimate."

How do you feel about the conflict [Fremont Market] is having with Sound Mind and Body Gym? Do you think the fight over sharing space can be resolved amicably? [Market patrons and gym members all want access to the limited on-street parking spots that surround the market and the gym.--Eds.]

"I don't know. I feel like [the gym's owner] is really out of line. It seems like she won't be able to have her way, but [the dispute] is having an impact. Because of all the logistical debates that are going on with the city, the market's merchants are having to stay put outdoors. By this time, we'd usually be moved into the parking garage nearby. The city has told us to wait for their response, which is hard because it's starting to get really cold and we don't have access to any electricity. It's very nerve-wracking, and [this whole thing is] ruining something really special."

Interview by Hannah Levin

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