They say a way to one’s heart is through their stomach. Ingrid Chen McCarthy and her husband, Jeff, are baking their way into the heart of Greensboro.
Ingrid moved to Greensboro originally at age 7, when her dad started Kilop USA, a textile company now focused on nonwoven raw materials. The family lived in Hamilton Lakes. Ingrid went to Grimsley, then Guilford College in 1998 and finally transferred to Earlham College in Indiana to “escape” Greensboro for something new and different.
At the time, she thought Greensboro was a bit Greensboring, so Ingrid was ready for even bigger changes. She struck out and started a new life in Portland, OR, working in restaurants to get by while she attended culinary school. It was in a kitchen, working as a line cook, where Ingrid first met Jeff, the pastry chef.
The couple married and quickly moved up in the culinary world: Ingrid became Executive Chef at Remedy Wine Bar, and Jeff became Kitchen Manager at a commissary kitchen. Ingrid remembers this as a “really special time” – doing what they both loved. But the long hours of the kitchen weren’t ideal when Ingrid became pregnant.
She had her daughter, Mabel, in 2015, and between paying for childcare, a mortgage, and car payments, the family was living paycheck to paycheck even though they were at the top of their game. And the couple wanted another child. Ingrid had to make a change, becoming an office manager for a restaurant group. Jeff became a pastry chef for a renowned hotel group, working a grueling 80-90 hours a week. They got the financial breathing room they needed to grow their family, but the work/life balance was impossible.
On a visit home in 2017, Ingrid got a glimpse of a life she could have. She had been worried about her mother, living alone after her father’s death in 2003, running the family business. Ingrid could see how happy her mother was to spend time with her granddaughter and knew that if they lived closer – everyone would benefit. She and Jeff packed up and moved back across the country into her mother’s home just a few months later.
Shortly after moving back, Ingrid gave birth to son Milo. Jeff stayed at home with the children and, to keep himself busy, fell back into a hobby he had taken up in Portland: baking sourdough bread. In February 2018, his production was too much for the family to swallow alone, literally. Jeff listed his bread on NextDoor, and the orders flooded in. He set up a table at The Corner Farmers Market. Again, he sold out immediately. Ingrid wasn’t surprised. “No one in Greensboro does what he does. Organic, naturally leavened, no commercial yeast. It’s a really long process.” Jeff branded the operation Breadservice, offering subscriptions of one loaf per week with a la carte “face-sized” cookies.
Ingrid, as is her way, added more to her plate by stepping up to help her mom with the (other) family business. Kilop USA is now the only certified woman-owned, minority-owned nonwoven textile company in the US. Ingrid is proud to support the thriving business her mother has kept alive in her father’s memory.
The couple hadn’t expected to stay long–maybe five years and then on to the next adventure. But they quickly discovered what makes Greensboro so special. Ingrid shared, “We found a community of people with similar values and world views. Greensboro is a wonderfully supportive community.” She remarks that she shouldn’t have been so surprised. “Greensboro has a history of Southern organizing, of politically progressive movements.”
In it for the long haul, Ingrid and Jeff have truly made the most of Greensboro. Mabel is in school at Lindley Elementary and loves it. Jeff, an avid mountain biker, has his pick of so many trails in the city. Mabel and Milo enjoy frequent visits to the Greensboro Science Center and Greensboro Children’s Museum. And the whole family looks forward to sunny days spent riding bikes on the Greenway.
Of course, the family that bakes together eats together. Their newest favorite haunt is Machete, owned by fellow Boomerang, Tal Blevins. They enjoy the diversity of Greensboro’s cuisine, rotating between Pho Hien Vuong, 42 Fry, ZC Hawaiian Barbeque, and Mac’s Speed Shop.
Ingrid and Jeff may not have anticipated living in Greensboro for long, but now they’re a part of the wide culinary landscape they’ve grown to love. They’ve found their home in Greensboro, and they’re adding to the local flavor in a big way.
Ingrid’s “I’m Outta Here” Moment:
After daughter Mabel’s birth in 2015, Ingrid and Jeff found themselves working extremely long hours just to keep up with the bills. Living paycheck-to-paycheck while working high-level jobs, the couple knew there had to be another way. “Jeff was working 80-90 hours a week.” When they began discussing having another child, they knew they needed a change. Now in Greensboro near Ingrid’s mother, they have the support they need to follow their dreams, together as a family.