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Published: Friday, 10/13/2000

Toledo duo cook up Southern-style meals

Mother-daughter team of Minnie Sebree, left, and Claudia Sebree-Brown created Aunt Minnie's frozen Southern meals. Mother-daughter team of Minnie Sebree, left, and Claudia Sebree-Brown created Aunt Minnie's frozen Southern meals.

Move over, Glory Foods of Columbus and Sylvia's of Harlem. There's a new prepared Southern-style product line on the market. And this one is from Toledo.

Vying for space in the heat-and-eat niche is Aunt Minnie's Southern Style Entrees, found in supermarket frozen food cases.

Toledoans will recognize “Aunt Minnie” - her photo is on the package - as Minnie Sebree. Until earlier this year, she ran Sebree Restaurant and Catering on Reynolds Road with her daughter, Claudia Sebree-Brown. They closed the restaurant in June to devote themselves to marketing their frozen-food products.

The two Toledoans intend to make their mark on the food industry with items such as Aunt Minnie's Cornbread Stuffing, Peach Cobbler, and Candied Yams. The mother-daughter duo expect to roll out six more products by the end of 2001 and six every year thereafter. In all, they have plans for 25 products, said Ms. Sebree-Brown.

Using Minnie Sebree's recipes, the products are being prepared and packaged for distribution by Request Foods in Holland, Mich. The office for Aunt Minnie's Food Service, Inc., is in Maumee.

Kroger stores in Ohio are stocking the products now. Meijer and Spartan stores will stock the products before the holiday season, according to food broker Bruce Kenat. “It is a dream come true,” said Ms. Sebree-Brown. “We persevered.”

Aunt Minnie's Southern Style Entrees began in the kitchen of the Toledo restaurant in 1998. Whole turkey and dressing meals for home and holiday occasions were directly delivered to customers.

“With running the restaurant and starting the food company, we were worn out,” said Ms. Sebree-Brown.

The products are designed for the conventional oven. “These are the same recipes as in the restaurant,” said Ms. Sebree-Brown. “We wanted it as close to home-cooking as possible. Many people want to transfer the foods to their own serving dishes.”

That way guests won't know the food isn't home cooking.

Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor. E-mail her at food@theblade.com.

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