photos by DJ Pierce
A culinary journey to create non-GMO, plant-based soups, from seed to table
Finding time and energy to make healthy meals with pure ingredients can be a challenge. Fortunately, Gina D’Orazio Stryker created Gina Cucina, a company that ships beautiful homemade organic sauces and soups that nourish body and soul. Her Colorado-based company relies on local farmers to provide the ingredients. D’Orazio Stryker says that “maintaining the integrity of the food” and “not adding preservatives” are key.
As a stay-at-home mother to four children, D’Orazio Stryker often found herself at the school teaching students how to cook with natural foods. Since March 2005, she has prepared plant-based, organic meals for her husband Rod Stryker’s ParaYoga yoga retreats (he is the founder). Soup is often the center of each meal.
Over the years, several retreat participants and friends suggested she package her soup and sell it. She took their advice to heart. “We knew our gazpachos were a hit when we showed up at the Aspen Farmer’s Market one day in July and sold out in less than an hour. The next week we returned and sold 250 jars in three hours,” explains D’Orazio Stryker. She believes the appeal is that the delicious soups are non-GMO and plant-based. “Everyone wants to know what is in their food.”
Her culinary journey began when she was 18. Determined to pursue her dream of becoming a chef, she decided that she would study culinary arts in Italy. After her high school graduation, D’Orazio Stryker purchased a plane ticket and only then did she announced to her family her plans to live abroad. “It was the first time I was on a commercial plane, and I didn’t speak Italian,” she says. “I was terrified, but I wouldn’t admit it to anyone.”
After completing the culinary program, she left Italy and pursued a career in film. She lived in California and worked in the Hollywood film industry, but D’Orazio Stryker now considers Colorado her home. Despite running a thriving small business, she still makes her family the first priority and cooks her own family meals. “It is a family event–dinner is based on what we harvest in the garden.”
For the summer months, D’Orazio Stryker offers customers her healthy watermelon habanero gazpacho and heirloom tomato gazpacho, as well as the Sunset Gazpacho “It’s hard for some people to imagine the flavor burst they experience in our gazpachos is simply pure, unadulterated freshly harvested fruits, veggies and herbs. Those real flavors are what makes it magical.”