NOFO GIRL of Note: Melissa Sabbatino

The reason the North Fork is so special, is because we have special people contributing to the community.  It is our goal to highlight some of those amazing individuals… the ladies! That is why NOFO GIRL is dedicated to featuring women who can truly inspire and motivate others to follow their hearts and fulfill their dreams. Check out this months honorary NOFO GIRL!

 

 

At just 30 years old, Melissa Sabbatino is the owner of the company Peconic River Preserves.  In 2013, she decided to leave her public accounting job in Boston, and move back home to the east end of Long Island because she knew wholeheartedly that she wasn’t happy in her career.  “Most people look at you like your nuts when you choose to leave a great job at an awesome firm to figure life out with no real plan… but I could no longer force myself to do something I didn’t love or have a passion for.”

It didn’t take Melissa long to realize what was next.  She wanted to follow a personal dream of hers that drew upon skills she learned as a child, making jam.  Melissa explained that she grew up in a farming and fishing family, and was taught how to cook and bake at an early age.  Her father was a bayman and they always had local produce and seafood in their household. Her mother, a baker, taught her the art of making jellies and jam. The idea to turn this childhood hobby into a business came after Melissa made her peach jam and gave it to friends and family as a Christmas gift. People loved it so much that it inspired her to turn this into a career.

In March of 2015, Melissa officially started her business, selling jam at local fairs.  Two years later, her products  are now sold all over the North Fork in local stores, farmers markets, and are even available custom order for baby showers and weddings.  One of the best things about her recipes is that she only uses local ingredients. “The use of local ingredients are paramount.” Melissa explained that when you use distributors you don’t always get the best products.  She believes to ensure that she gets the freshest fruit is to know your farmer. “We are so blessed to have amazing local farms here on the East End. It’s kind of a no brainer. Why wouldn’t I choose to work with my neighbors?” Melissa is a self-proclaimed foodie, so when coming up with flavors it is when she is hungry that she is most creative. “When I start to make something for lunch, dinner, or appetizers with friends, if something tastes really good I try to create a jam to capture that flavor.” Some of Peconic River Preserves varieties include Bhavanna Blueberry, Strawberry Rhubarb, Black Pepper Fig, Habanero Sunrise, and Sparkling Rose Petal Gelee.

The road to get to this point didn’t come easy, and Melissa says she could not have done it without the support of her mother. “Luckily for me, I have the greatest mom. She taught how to make jam and is the one who wakes up at 4am with me to get into the kitchen and cook for however many hours.  She is my biggest supporter and the hardest working woman I know. I could not have done or continue to do any of this without her.”

When asked what advice Melissa would give to anyone looking to follow their own dreams and start a business Melissa says, “Just do it!” She explained if you are unhappy with your current situation, change it because that feeling isn’t going to go away.  She suggests to do your research, make a  plan and execute it.  “Understand that it’s going to be hard. Lots of work, lots of sacrifice, lots of sleepless nights but it’s totally worth it.  Have faith in yourself!”

I love Melissa’s story for so many reason. Firstly because she was brave enough to completely change the course of her life and accomplish so much at such a young age… but also because the root of her company isn’t just about making jam. At it’s core it is about the love of a family and the beautiful memories they have made together. Ultimately I believe that is what it should all be about. I remember when I was a little girl my mother would wake up and make a cup of tea and toast with raspberry preserves. We would sit together just she and I, every morning and talk. I cherish those memories, and every time I see raspberry preserves I think of her.  I believe what Melissa is doing is not only helping people create these special memories, but even better, preserve them.

For more information on Peconic River Preserves go to www.peconicriverpreserves.com and follow on Facebook and Instagram @peconicriverpreserves.

 

 

 

 

 

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