"I was cooking all the time anyway so I figured, why not try," said the Darien resident. And so, she emailed 20 friends asking, if she prepared homemade meals to go would they be interested?
The answer? An unequivocal "yes."
That was five years ago and that list has now grown to 450. So has her company, which started in her kitchen, and, as of February 2016, to a storefront near the Darien train station.
Four Forks -- named after her four sons -- offers a weekly meal service to those who subscribe. Clients receive menus every Sunday and can place orders for what they want for the week. Her food leans heavily on healthy options and seasonal ingredients. Popular entrees include chicken paillard, roast chicken, pulled pork and turkey chili.
"There's definitely is a need for food that's not processed and easy to grab-and-go," said Ruppenstein. "Rest assured, these are home-cooked meals just cooked outside of the home."
Ruppenstein, who learned cooking and entertaining from her mother and aunt growing up in Yonkers, N.Y., takes pride in her ingredients, many of which are organic and local. She still searches local markets and shops for her favorite provisions to make each meal special.
Four Forks also has a full-time catering arm to the business. And, with her new space she's able to offer "What's in the Fridge" selections on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and in the catering off-season on Fridays so those who pop in can grab whatever is available. Her kale salad, for one, flies out of the case, as do her soups and chicken dishes.
Since opening less than a year ago, Ruppenstein says business has quadrupled. She is quick to note, however, that none of this would have happened without the support of friends and local moms.
"I have four boys so I have a large network and have a ton of supportive customers who have become friends and I feel very fortunate to be here" said the former Rowayton resident.
It helps, too, that she knows how to deal with controlled chaos. Her former job was managing player programming and appearances at the NFL, so she's used to juggling - and running -- events.
Mainly though she credits her success to good food and good people. Said Ruppenstein: "I feel very lucky to be in such a great town doing what I love."
Four Forks is at 7 Tokeneke Rd, Darien, (203) 202-7576, www.fourforks.net/.
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