JO PELLIGRA, founder of Sama SPREAD, grew up in Manhattan in a traditional Italian family. Her mom made sure there were no processed foods on the Pelligra table ever. She even made her own baby food by grinding up the delicious meals she prepared for the family. Her culinary preferences and skills left an imprint on Jo to this day.
When Jo became vegan, she couldn’t find cheese alternatives in the market that were good tasting, additive free, and nutritious. Instead, there were what she calls “vegan junk foods” with fillers and unhealthy oils. Where was a healthy, plant-based, cheese alternative that tasted like cheese? Looked like she would have to make it herself. With her mother’s inspiration, over 35 years of experience in the food service industry, and a degree in Dietetics, Jo jumped into the challenge. After many creative trials in the kitchen, she hit upon just the right ingredients in just the right amounts to create a “cheeze” that she loved. And so did her friends, who would say to her, “You should sell this stuff!” Jo took them up on it and, in 2012, SPREAD (later renamed Sama SPREAD) was born.
TERI BECKMAN co-founded Sama SPREAD along with Jo and helps the team with strategy, marketing, and in-store demonstrations. She loves to eat Sama SPREAD and, truth be told, she does not know how to make it! (That’s Jo’s secret.) Teri has a business coaching and consulting practice called Skillful Means Training. She spent a career in real estate development, lending, and deal structuring and has managed multiple business enterprises over 30 years. Teri loves to hike, meditate, and enjoys a warm fire on cold winter days.
MADELEINE PABIS was so wowed by how good each variety of Sama SPREAD tasted (Smokey is her favorite), that she jumped at the opportunity to join SPREAD when Jo and Teri asked her in 2014. She is part of the production team that makes Sama SPREAD by hand each week, works on marketing and promotion, updates the Sama SPREAD website, and can be spotted doing demos and deliveries. A retired high school theatre teacher, Madeleine grew up in Chicago eventually landing in Chapel Hill (via San Francisco) and discovering that North Carolina is home. She lives in Durham– the only place to live in the Triangle!
JESSICA HOLDERMAN joined Sama SPREAD in January of 2015, after moving to Durham from New Hampshire with her husband and two young daughters. She is excited about being a part of and supporting this local small business. When Jessica is not “SPREADing,” she is at the park with the kids, working her own business as a consultant for a top premium skincare line, or spending time with family and friends.
Jessica grew up in New Hampshire and spent time on the west coast. She’s been an avid horse back rider and skier since age 3 and does not miss the New Hampshire winters !!!
MARTHA DYER is originally from Connecticut and came to Durham by way of New Mexico. She learned to love food and cooking while following her Mom around the kitchen as a youngster. Her mother grew up on a small subsistence farm in Maine where everything was scratch made and children learned the importance of eating fresh local-grown food. There was always excitement about the vegetable garden and beyond: canning for winter, foraging for wild food, picking dandelion greens (which weren’t weeds in our house!), fiddleheads, wild blueberries, and wild nuts all making their way to the dinner table.
Martha cooked and baked professionally in Connecticut and New Mexico, and loves to cook for her friends. She is exited to support Sama SPREAD because it is local and delicious. When she isn’t “SPREADing,” Martha is an Art Therapist, gardener, and a wild mushroom enthusiast often seen bounding through the forest with her canine pal Hopper and a basket of wild goodies.