After years of only cooking for family and friends, Lesley Riley decided it was time to hop back in the kitchen. Now she’s the face of a must-have gourmet biscuit brand offering more than 60 mouth-watering products — and they’re coming to a store near you.
Riley, the founder and CEO of Mama Biscuit, has a lot to celebrate this year after scoring major distribution deals in Walmart, Whole Foods, Sam’s Club and Amazon, among others. To make things sweeter, the company is also celebrating its four-year anniversary.
What began as a tribute to her grandmother’s 127-year-old biscuit recipe is shaping up to flip the baking world on its head.
“I wanted to create the nostalgia of home cooking from my grandma’s recipes with a modern twist,” said Riley, who’s set to appear on QVC’s “In the Kitchen with David” on March 17. “That is what Mama Biscuit is. Simple and authentic handwritten recipes passed down from generations.”
Riley launched her gourmet baking company in 2015, cementing herself as a pioneer of the gourmet biscuit. The former restaurateur auditioned for the Food Network’s “Master Chef” a year prior as she showcased her culinary prowess to the world while still working to secure funding to launch her business. After multiple rejections from traditional banks, however, she was forced to fund her dream on her own.
Riley still makes time to live up to her nickname of “Ma Biscuit” and bills herself as an IT Project manager by day, a former national security background investigator at night and a celebrity gourmet biscuit maker “in between.” Her online bakery features a huge range of biscuit, including such widely contrasting flavors as pot pie and bananas foster with caramel pecan-praline. Prices start on the company website at $25 for two pans of eight buttermilk biscuits each, and the products are shipped frozen.
“My first baking creation for retail was an Apple Pear Pistachio Gourmet Biscuit,” she said in a statement. “This cleaner, healthy and delicious breakfast/dessert item quickly became an instant hit. “When you bake with love, you have fun and it comes out in the taste.”
Thanks to consistency, word of mouth and persistence, Riley said she and her team of 15 employees were able to land national distribution with several major brands.
According to the company’s website, the mission of Mama Biscuit is to keep things simple and tasty without the compromise. It does this “by making small batches, using premium all-natural foods with only the finest, freshest, ingredients. Period! We aim to create that one unique experience that takes you on a flavor journey that your taste buds have never traveled before.”
Mama Biscuit hopes to expand its services to include monthly cooking/baking lessons for children and millennials curated by a former White House chef. Riley is also no stranger to giving back and donates her biscuits to food pantries across the Washington, D.C., area.
“I never take anything for granted,” she said. “No matter what opportunities come your way always remain humble. Opportunities aren’t given to everyone.”