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How a Cortez woman transformed a garage into a high-output kitchen

Kristen Dellinger and Mona Snyder of Mona Makes prepare their flavorful concoctions in Chris Snyder’s garage, which has been converted into a licensed kitchen.
Mona Makes engineers flavorful concoctions available through catering and dinner services

Chris Snyder’s garage looks a little different from the average person’s. It doesn’t hold cars, or sports gear or boxes of old holiday decorations.

It’s for a good reason – to support his sister, Mona Snyder, and her budding culinary career.

His garage is a kitchen.

Longtime experimenters with food, the Snyder siblings crafted soups, breads and other baked goods at the Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery market in their free time away from their full-time jobs.

Both are self-proclaimed ‘foodies,’ and, if you ask Chris, Mona said, she learned everything she knew about cooking from his unique eye for fine-tuning recipes – although she would never admit it, for fear of inflating his ego.

But, as fate would have it, Mona’s office was closing, and she didn’t want to search for another job.

Thus, Mona Makes was born in February 2020.

She has found success in her brother’s renovated and licensed garage, preparing hundreds of meals a week for nightly dinners available for pickup and catering orders.

“It's been very positive,” she said. “People been very kind with their feedback, and they’ve been very generous as well in getting the word out to friends and everyone.”

Among her ever-changing and innovative menu are the likes of crispy coconut chicken with Key lime coconut sauce, Frito pie with hearty homemade chili, dessert nachos and cinnamon and orange rolls.

It’s been almost two years since the launch of Mona’s gourmet venture, and she’s looking ahead to expansion.

She’s now in the beginning stages of opening a brick-and-mortar location.

Mona Makes

Not only has she received the backing of the Cortez community, but her family has stepped in to make her rich dreams a reality.

Her sister-in-law’s sister, Esther Taylor, moved from Utah to be by her side in the kitchen.

Snyder’s brother also frequently pitches in.

“It’s really funny to watch us in the kitchen sometimes because he always turns into the head chef,” she said.

Not to mention, her nieces and nephews are always eager to lend a hand in plating the sought-after spreads.

Cooking is rooted in the fabric of Mona’s family, she said.

Mona’s great aunt on her mother’s side was a well-known chef on a Mississippi River barge.

“Growing up we would always be like: ‘I hope it’s as good as Aunt Re’s,’” she said.

A meal from Mona Makes.

That always stuck with her. And on her dad’s side, her aunt was skilled at making doughnuts and cinnamon rolls.

“The kitchen is kind of where my family congregated, and that's how we just kind of spent time together,” she said. “It was just trying new things and creating those bonds – not just within my close family but extended family as well.”

Snyder’s favorites are her smothered sopaipillas with chili verde and her cranberry citrus glaze pork.

Her brother often sends her recipes, and she researches variations before making them her own.

“I’ll just kind of try my hand at it and see if it’s good,” she said. “And then if it’s something I think people would like, I’ll put it in the menu and see how it goes.”

She’s also experimenting with homemade pasta and different fillings for ravioli.

To see what’s on the menu, go to facebook.com/MsMonaMakes. To place an order, call or text 970-560-2615 by 10 a.m. the day you’re picking up dinner. Dinners are ready for pickup between 4 and 6 p.m., and come in small or large portions.