Westfield couple finds ways to relish retirement
WESTFIELD — The downtown farmers market may be a distant memory during these cold days of winter, but zucchini relish fans can purchase the homemade concoction directly from the couple who created the delicacy that has gained a faithful following.
Carmel-Ann and Raymond E. Lariviere are spending their retirement years by keeping busy cooking and selling Carmel-Ann’s special recipe featuring the green, Italian squash and secret spices.
While the couple can be found every Thursday on the front lawn of the Church of Atonement on Court Street from June until September, devotees of their zucchini relish can still purchase the homemade culinary creation throughout the year at various events.
Most recently, the Larivieres were among more than 40 crafters at Fezziwig’s Holiday Faire, part of a Dickens Days celebration downtown stroll that was held Dec. 8, and before that had a booth during Colonial Harvest Day, another Westfield on Weekends event, on Sept. 29.
In both cases, the Larivieres said they did well, and offering samples almost always closes the sale. “We do well everywhere we go,” said Carmel-Ann. “Nine times out of 10, people will buy the relish after they’ve tasted a sample. They’ll buy a small jar, then come back another time and buy the large one.”
In many ways, cooking and selling the zucchini dish is a form of therapy and a way for Carmel-Ann and Raymond to honor the son who encouraged them to take the relish out of their kitchen and offer it to the public. Brian Lariviere died of septic pneumonia in June 2009.
On average, the Larivieres prepare about 60 pounds of the relish each week during the summer and buy the zucchini in 20-pound cases. For a quantity of that size, it takes them a full day to cook, cool and fill 16- and 8-ounce jars with the relish.
In order to prepare such large amounts, the couple works out of the commercial kitchen at Blessed Sacrament Church, a venue that is licensed by the city Board of Health.
Carmel-Ann has no plans of stopping any time soon.
“I can see myself making this for the rest of my life,” she said.
When the Larivieres are not at local fairs, customers can purchase their zucchini relish by emailing Carmel-Ann at calcraft(at)comcast.net, and she will accommodate orders by request. They are also working on building a website on which they can sell the relish.