PALMER, Mass. (WWLP) – There will be a number of local caterers taking part in this year’s Big E. Among them is Mary Beth Shirzadi from Sassy’s Catering in Palmer, who will bring a variety of sweet potato dishes.

Sherzadi explained to 22News how the idea for a sweet potato catering business first came to be. In her mid-fifties, she left her teaching job and traveled across the country for 18 months, making lemonade along the way. Her business partner was later found at Lake George in New York. From him, she heard, “You’re too good to work for another company; what would you do on your own?”

Having a niece who is a stage four cancer survivor, she told him she wanted to provide a healthier food option to the public. Her niece was unable to eat anything at a New York fair once, so she thought roasted root vegetables would be a good start. However, he stated that he would like to prepare white potatoes, to which she replied that everyone does this, and suggested doing sweet potatoes instead. Hence, she started Sassy’s Catering and was going to transform people’s lives with roasted sweet potatoes.

Over the last five or six years, she has added different toppings to her roasted sweet potatoes, but that would soon change. While on a bus tour in New York City, she saw potato tacos being served and stopped for one. On a flat top, they cut up a potato and placed it in the taco shell. And when she took a bite, she realized that these potato tacos would make a great addition to her business, but with a bit more sass.

Her tacos are made with samai rice, sweet potato mash, southwest seasonings, roasted peppers, and root vegetables. Toppings include vegan Mexican street corn and salsa verde or avocado ranch dressing if you’re dairy-free. The sweet potato tacos also come with pulled pork, cranberry orange compote, and mac and cheese.

When people first taste Sassy’s sweet potato tacos, Sherzadi explains their initial reaction, “They can’t believe you make a taco out of sweet potatoes and no meat is involved. But if you are a sweet potato fan, you absolutely love Sassy’s,” said Sherzadi. “Because we roast them slowly, which takes about an hour to roast, and all of our toppings are homemade.”

And she says she is excited to cater these to the Big E, along with sweet potato sushi. ” I’m excited about the sushi, my son is the one who makes it for me,” expressed Sherzadi. “Because it is a vegan option, vegetarian, and gluten-free, it is very popular.”

There will also be homemade tomato garden salad, sweet potato sushi, soups, lobster-loaded potatoes, key lime pie, and sweet potato pie available. She predicts that at the Big E, she will use over 40 cases of sweet potatoes.

And with the Big E just around the corner, she says it is hard to believe that the woman-owned business she once started with a roaster, potatoes, and a vision has come so far. She credits her success to her loyal customers and is looking forward to the Big E with excitement and anticipation. You can catch Sassy’s Catering on East Rd. during the Big E this year.

 We’ll continue to highlight the businesses behind this year’s Big E treats in stories to follow.

Local News

Kayleigh Thomas is a digital reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Kayleigh on Twitter @kayleighcthomas and view her bio to see more of her work.