Talia Hirsch, founder of Plant Based Provisions photographed by Sarah Hummel

"One of the most rewarding things for me now is hearing from customers who follow certain diets or who have allergies to multiple things and have found something that tastes delicious that they can eat without worry."

What do you do in the food world and what do you love about it?
I run a business that focuses on making tasty and indulgent treats that are nourishing, guilt-free and convenient. I love getting to create new things every day, from the actual pudding and baked goods I make to the designs for packaging, marketing collateral, setting up and shooting photos. I also love getting to meet and interact with customers. 

Photo by Sarah Hummel

What was your motivation/inspiration for creating desserts free of the 8 major allergens? 
The motivation started as a very personal thing. As a sophomore in college I started feeling intense pain in my hip joint and it affected my ability to do all of the daily activities that I had never thought twice about. I made a conscious effort after that to clean up my eating as well live a more active lifestyle. I started researching and learning for myself about different causes of inflammation and realized that refined sugar, gluten and dairy are three hugely problematic foods for me. But when I would go looking for desserts or sweet snacks to have (I have a major sweet tooth for lifeeeeee), virtually none of them were free of all three things, and the ones that were were very pricey and without a huge variety. As someone who loves to cook and create new recipes in general, I started playing around in the kitchen with substitutes for the typical ingredients found in desserts. I started baking up a storm and found that using real, whole ingredients can result in some pretty tasty creations. Additionally, I started realizing how many people suffer from similar problems relating to inflammation, other chronic issues such as crohn's, IBS, migraines, etc. I wanted to share the things I had been enjoying with others looking for the same types of things in a way that was convenient and approachable. One of the most rewarding things for me now is hearing from customers who follow certain diets or who have allergies to multiple things and have found something that tastes delicious that they can eat without worry. 

People love to use your puddings in other recipes like smoothie bowls, etc. What are some of your favorite flavor and topping combinations?
I really love the vanilla pudding as a base to a fruit tart (reminiscent of the beautiful custard berry tarts they have at Whole Foods, etc) You can either use a frozen gluten free crust or make your own gf+vegan one with nut flour and coconut oil. Then spread a layer of pudding and top with fresh berries. I also love dipping strawberries, bananas, pretzels (ok maybe literally anything) into the chocolate pudding. I have used the mint chocolate pudding in place of milk for coffee, you can mix it into hot or iced coffee for the creamiest peppermint mocha without any of the added chemicals or sugars that are typically found in coffeehouse peppermint syrups. The cinnamon spice pudding is delicious with roasted peaches and granola (kind of like peach cobbler!) but the options are truly endless. 

How do you resist the patriarchy?
It has been important to me as a single woman business owner to work with other women like me in the food space. I try to find opportunities for partnerships in terms of product collaborations, cross-advertising (giveaways with other female-owned allergen free companies as well as partnering with a bunch of local women influencers to help promote PBP and their own lifestyle accounts) working together at events, hiring women to help me sell at farmer's markets, finding an amazing female mentor to learn so much from, and being a resource for women who are thinking of starting their own business who either have a product in mind or are looking for advice. 

What advice would you give to others who have an idea for a food product they want to share with the world, but don't know how to get started?
Start sharing it with your community first! Find ways to get the product in front of friends, family and even take samples to local businesses you admire. Ask for feedback, take suggestions seriously, and keep refining what you have until you feel like it is ready to go. One invaluable thing that I did was find opportunities to immerse myself more in the food industry in Boston, from taking a culinary course to signing up for a class on how to start your own food business. It was really great to be around other people with similar goals to mine to share progress, bounce ideas off of and learn from. 

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