Monica Notaro has a broad range of talents and abilities – she is a chemist, professional singer, single mom and owner of URTH, a local plant-based meal prep and delivery service.
After graduating with a biochemistry degree from Grand Valley State University, Notaro worked for two years as a chemist before leaving to focus on her professional singing career, which includes regularly singing the national anthem at Detroit Red Wings home games. Concurrently, Notaro started posting photos of her homemade vegan meals on Instagram and gained a following. Soon she was preparing meals for a small group of friends who loved her food and encouraged her to start her own business. During this time, she was also going through a difficult period in her life and viewed cooking for others as a positive outlet.
In early 2019, her plant-based, prepared meal company, URTH, was born.
“The food I prepare is fresh, nutrient-rich, high quality, gourmet,” she said. “I grew up with my dad cooking amazing Italian food, so I especially like cooking anything Italian, particularly with eggplant, mushrooms and, of course, marinara sauce.”
Notaro, of Birmingham, currently leases a professional kitchen in Southfield with a staff that includes two sous chefs and a nutritionist who reviews the menus. “Eating healthy is not just about calories but the quality of food we put in our bodies,” she explained. “About half of my clients are not strictly vegans, they just like eating healthy.”
According to Notaro, URTH’s plant-based menu offerings are organic and non-GMO (when available) and do not contain dairy, meat or animal byproducts. Nearly all produce URTH uses is from local sources. She posts a new menu on her website each week for delivery the following week and is committed to providing flexibility to her clients by offering items a la carte and does not require meal plan commitments. The URTH menu contains a creative selection of healthy items such as Tuscan penne, pad Thai, pierogi quesadillas, carrot sriracha hummus and cold-pressed juices. The company has a wide delivery area which includes the Birmingham/Bloomfield area as well as communities such as Shelby Township, Novi, and Ann Arbor.
Although Notaro is not a professionally trained chef, she has a passion for sharing her healthy food while continuing to learn and grow. Since URTH has already surpassed Notaro’s initial goals, she hopes its continued success will lead to expanding in a way that makes her prepared food more accessible to more people – perhaps through a presence in other stores or her own wellness storefront.
“Life experience brought me to this point. There are tough days when you own a business, but my clients are so amazing – and they keep me going. Many are immunocompromised and I appreciate their positive messages about my food making their lives easier. Ultimately, I would like more people to have the opportunity to experience my food,” she said.
“My biggest inspiration is my five-year-old daughter, Mila. I try to set a good example for her every day. I hope I have instilled in her the value of hard work and that it will motivate her later in life. I never thought I’d be singing professionally for the Red Wings or starting a business. I want her to know that nothing is impossible.”
For more information: Urthmeals.com, Instagram.com/urthmeals.
Story: Tracy Donohue
Photo: Laurie Tennent