The show has at least one fan in Hollywood. Sara Polon’s triple ginger butternut squash soup recently caught the attention of Ari Emanuel, one of Hollywood’s most storied agents and co-chief executive of William Morris Endeavor. As the story goes, Emanuel tasted her soup on Thanksgiving at his brother Zeke Emanuel’s Cleveland Park home.
Zeke Emanuel, a bioethicist who helped first lady Michelle Obama develop her Let’s Move Initiative, also advised Polon on her soup’s nutrition guidelines. (Mutual friends introduced them, and Polon asked him for his input.) He served eight quarts of her soup at his holiday meal.
“I’m a huge devotee of Soupergirl,” Zeke Emanuel says. “I told my brother I made everything else in the meal but the soup. I love to cook, but her stuff is so good that I just get her stuff. So Ari immediately said, ‘We oughta do a show on Soupergirl!’ ”
(WME confirmed that it was working with Soupergirl and Womin Media, but could not comment on “ongoing negotiations.”)
The mother-daughter team coalesced five years ago when Sara was brainstorming business ideas. A friend reminded her of how her mother brought Sara coolers filled with amazing soups — such as chickpea rosemary stew and bulgur lentil tomato stew — when she was broke and doing stand-up in New York City. Sara, a vegetarian, wanted to make locally sourced soups that were “fabulously luscious but really healthy.”
Her customers would say she succeeded. “I was honestly really surprised at how good they taste,” says Laura Wingo, 38, a teacher who brought her two toddlers to the restaurant for lunch last week.
After its 2008 inception, Soupergirl quickly expanded from a delivery service to a 1,500-square-foot cafe. Business continues to boom. The cafe just added 1,250 square feet and will soon host live performances. The Georgetown Whole Foods starts stocking Soupergirl’s soups next week. And Sara Polon just signed with the Carole Mann agency to write a cookbook.
But on this day, Soupergirl and her mother are busy coping with a shortage of soup containers, a health-department inspection of their newly expanded space and a surprise visit from their rabbi.
Wearing a hoodie, a yarmulke and his iPod’s ear buds, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, 38, who leads Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue in Washington, wandered in to check whether the place was keeping kosher and pick up a couple of Soupergirl’s salads: Moroccan carrot and wheatberry root.
“I was once asked to be on a reality show — I am not kidding, ‘Survivor’ wanted a rabbi,” Herzfeld says. “But I said no. Plus, I don’t really watch TV.”
After the lunch rush, Sara Polon and her mother collapse into the store’s green Emeco chairs to eat bowls of North African lentil chickpea stew.
“We made it,” Marilyn Polon says.
“We lost 150 pounds of chickpeas in a borderline disaster and survived,” Sara Polon says, laughing.
Would that be a good plot line?
“Sure,” she says. “At least, TV viewers wouldn’t have to smell them.”