Sharla’s passion for cooking began as a child, sitting on the kitchen counter in a cardboard box watching her mother decorate cakes. Although an introvert by nature, Sharla learned to express herself and her unique personality by creating food. She had a taste for the unusual, a quality that her father helped nurture at a young age. Growing up in Chowchilla and Dos Palos, two small towns in Central California, Sharla lacked access to new and exciting cuisine – excluding cheese enchiladas and “mojos” (fried potatoes smothered in cheese sauce) from her neighborhood joints! But quickly – and with an old Betty Crocker cookbook in hand – Sharla started to experiment.
With Mom at work and 17 miles of separation between home and “civilization,” Sharla began cooking in the early 90s and drew inspiration from faraway cooking shows on television. Though she had spent winters learning to speak Spanish in Mazatlán, Mexico and had cruised around the San Francisco Bay on her dad's boat, Sharla hadn't traveled much. Consequently, she found herself exploring the world and all the tastes that it had to offer through her family’s satellite TV.
For generations, Sharla’s family worked in agriculture, and although she was expected to maintain the business, her love of creating burned from within! Sharla soon discovered a golden ticket to pursuing her cooking aspirations; she attended Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon (now called Le Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts) and graduated in 1995. Never interested in becoming a high-profile chef, however, Sharla focused on practicality and aimed to create good food for family and college friends to enjoy together. While living in San Luis Obispo shortly after graduation, Sepo’s future visionary developed a particular interest in whole foods and organic produce.
Sharla returned to her hometown in 1997 to start a family of her own, where she established a test kitchen of sorts called Baker Farming Co. She and her children later moved from the San Joaquin Valley to Southern California, where she resides today. Sharla notes, “Southern California has enabled me to participate in a healthy lifestyle that answered questions to years of debilitating migraines and sickness that were mostly un-diagnosed. Though I enjoyed all that life had to offer for the palate, I was unaware of the 20 plus food allergies that have always been with me.” After learning of these food allergies, Sharla vowed to continue providing excellent tasting experiences for others, despite the inability to enjoy them herself.
With this goal in mind, Chef Sharla created Sepo Sauce – a well-balanced, versatile sauce featuring a garlicky tang and hint of grated horseradish. She then offered it to family and friends, who raved about its flavor and encouraged her to jar it and share with the world. Taking their advice, Sharla perfected her recipe and made this one-of-a-kind sauce, dip, spread, and dressing available to us all. Purchase it online and taste Sepo for yourself!