Family traditions inspire success of Fish Wife Sweets

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Amber Chia

A customer approaches the Fish Wife Sweets stall at the Harvard Market located in Half Moon Bay.

Nicole Yarovoy, a senior at Carlmont High School, approaches a wooden stall decorated with a bright blue sign that read “Fish Wife Sweets.” Upon looking at the treats displayed in the front, she decides to purchase a box of cookies. Taking a bite into a cookie, she walks away, satisfied with her purchase. 

“I was driving with my parents in Half Moon Bay, and while we were driving past this pumpkin patch, there was this cart. It had this sticker on it that said ‘Fish Wife Sweets,’ and it looked delicious so it attracted us to stop by,” Yarovoy said. 

Fish Wife Sweets is a home-based bakery that was started in September 2015 by Moriah Bettencourt. When first starting her bakery, she primarily sold her baked goods at local festivals and events. Over the years, the business has transformed into utilizing online platforms, such as a website and social media, in order to promote her business. 

“Initially, all I did was events, like festivals, and I only did like one or two a year. I did one festival called ‘Fish and Fleet’ when I started, and then I did a couple of school bazaars during Christmas time. So that was it, it was very, very small. Then I kind of worked in doing occasional orders here and there, and it just grew from there,” Bettencourt said. 

My paternal grandmother lived in New Mexico, and she would come and stay with us for two or three months at a time. What she used to do was she would give me little pieces of pie crust to play with and roll out, and she would put cinnamon and sugar on them, that kind of thing. ”

— Moriah Bettencourt

Bettencourt began the beginnings of her baking career through the teachings of her grandmother. Her grandmother’s recipes continue to inspire many of her baked products, including her pies, cinnamon rolls, and sea-salt chocolate chunk cookies.

“My paternal grandmother lived in New Mexico, and she would come and stay with us for two or three months at a time. What she used to do was she would give me little pieces of pie crust to play with and roll out, and she would put cinnamon and sugar on them, that kind of thing. She made a lot of pies and cinnamon rolls, which I started baking her cinnamon rolls on Christmas, and now they’re a huge hit with my customers,” Bettencourt said. 

Similar to Bettencourt, Jen Mozzetti, an employee at Fish Wife Sweets, was introduced to baking through a family member. Mozzetti witnessed her mother constantly baking and decorating cakes for any family-related function from a young age. Currently, at Fish Wife Sweets, Mozzetti decorates the majority of the cakes ordered. 

“As I got older, my mom started to show me how to bake and decorate cakes. When I had my own kids, and I hadn’t baked cakes for a long time, my mother asked why I was buying cakes when I could have just made my own cakes,” Mozzetti said. “So I started doing my own thing and realized, oh, I could do this. But then again, I stopped for a while until Moriah at Fish Wife Sweets asked if I would be interested in helping her decorate cakes.” 

Bettencourt and Mozzetti initially met when Bettencourt hired Mozzetti to be her son’s caregiver. Over the years, Mozzetti and Bettencourt have been working together to produce sweet treats for their customers. For Mozzetti, customers’ reactions to seeing the cakes they ordered are the most satisfying component of the job. 

“When I open the door, or Mariah opens the door, to give the customers the cake and they’re like, oh, wow with an expression, and you can see they’re happy, and you can tell that it’s more than what they thought they were getting. That makes me feel good. It’s nice to hear that somebody actually likes something,” Mozzetti said. 

According to Bettencourt, the treats they decide to place on their menus are related to the fresh produce available during that season. An example she uses is her Olallieberry pies that are made during the summer, when the fruit is in season. 

When I open the door, or Mariah opens the door, to give the customers the cake and they’re like, oh, wow with an expression, and you can see they’re happy, and you can tell that it’s more than what they thought they were getting. That makes me feel good. It’s nice to hear that somebody actually likes something.”

— Jen Mozzetti

“Pumpkin pie pecan pie is traditionally a holiday thing. If somebody ordered a pumpkin pie from me in May, I would make it for them, but it wouldn’t be on a regular menu. I like to use different kinds of seasonal and local food when I can. Like during the summer there’s a berry grown here on the coast called Olallieberry,” Bettencourt said. “Their season is really short; it’s only like six or seven weeks. People love them, and then once they’re gone, they’re gone because I don’t like freezing the berries and that kind of stuff.” 

Although most of Bettencourt’s business comes from her presence on social media and website orders, she is still selling at local markets and events.  

“Every second Saturday of the month, I do a market over in the Princeton area called the Harvard Market. The day after Thanksgiving, that Friday and the weekends, Fish Wife Sweets will be at 4C’s Christmas tree farm just like I was at John’s,” Bettencourt said.