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Alexandria chef Erinn Roth says her success is all about her mother

Erinn Roth credits her mother with everything.

Roth spent 24 years in the U.S. Army before starting Ms. Jo’s Petite Sweets in Alexandria in 2016. She literally had a dream about making cupcakes before retiring from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and told her parents she wanted to make desserts for a living.

“I told my parents that I was going to retire from the Army to cook cupcakes, and my mom said I should do it, that I’d be successful,” Roth said. “About a month later she and my father were on vacation and she passed suddenly. Our family dynamic changed. We were all like little planets orbiting around my mother.”

Roth started her catering business in ALX Community (201 N. Union Street), after attending the pastry school at L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg and participating in entrepreneurship programs at Cornell University, Georgetown University and the WeWork/Bunker Labs Veterans In Residence Program.

“I’m from Mississippi, where your reputation is based on how well you can cook,” Roth said. “Desserts are my passion, although I cook everything. My mother was my greatest influence, but everyone in my family cooked, and food was the center of family gatherings, whether they were weddings, birthdays, celebrations and even funerals.”

She named her company after her mother Jo Bradford Hardaway.

“My favorite part of my new life is when people ask me whether I’m Mrs. Jo, and I can tell them about my mom,” Roth said.

The business got a big boost in 2021, after Roth got runner-up in Crime Scene Kitchen, a reality cooking show on FOX. Last year, she opened Mrs. Jo’s Petite Eats Patisserie & Cafe (7940 Jones Branch Drive) in Tysons Corner.

“I didn’t foresee myself being a business owner being a chef,” Roth said. “I look at life a lot different now. I see the shades of green in trees. I see sunrises and sunsets differently, and I try to stay in the moment.”

Roth manages her business in Alexandria and wants to open more locations in the future.

“I call this my first location,” she said of her cafe. “But yes, I would love to another location particularly overseas at U.S. military bases. There are huge American communities that  don’t have cake makers, and I’d love to be able to offer that for that community.”

Images via Facebook

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