When Phyllis Hunt of Burbank was looking for a way to supplement her income, her children suggested she sell her homemade pasta she made for her family.
Ten years ago, she bought large amounts of flour and eggs and got to work. Using an old-fashioned pasta maker with a crank handle, she made the goods to sell at local farmers markets.
She has a booth at the Orland Park Farmers Market and offers not only pasta, but soup packets, dried spices and vegetable packets, as well as rice infused with vegetables and spices.
Hunt has since worn out over four pasta makers.
"The good ones are so hard to find," she said. "They come from Italy and are very expensive." She tried the "new electric kind" when they first came out, but she said they worked terribly and never went back to them again.
Nevertheless, she has come to be known as "The Pasta Lady" because of her small business. She said she is not looking to make much money, just enough to cover her property taxes. Her pasta costs $2.50 a bag and her soups and spices are $1 each or 6 for $5.
When we caught up with Phyllis, she was selling many different varieties of fettuccine. That wasn't always the case. It wasn't until her son suggested she make spinach- and broccoli-infused pasta that she began making the different flavors of pasta by adding pureed vegetables to the dough and offering them for sale at the markets.
When her kids ask her what she wants for Christmas, she responds simply with "flour," because she said, it's all she needs.
Besides making pasta, being a mother and grandmother, she also happens to be the mother of another local favorite, Bobby Hunt, a.k.a. Circus Boy. Bobby is a comedic performer who has put on shows for two U.S. presidents alongside esteemed celebrities. He has ridden the world's smallest bicycle as designated by Ripley's Believe It or Not, and performed with the Ringling Bros. Circus.
"I am blessed to have been raised by such great parents," Bobby Hunt said. "My mom is one amazing woman."
He went on to say that his mother, "only 4-foot-10 tall, starts the day in search of her fresh ingredients to be finely chopped and added into the freshly rolled and then cut into fettuccine style noodle. Some people do not believe it's her product. They say 'this must take all day to do?' or 'Who is your supplier?' Many vendors say 'only $2? You should raise your prices!'"
Phyllis has a hidden talent of her own as well. She explained to me that she is a trained "whip cracker." She said she "could grab a cigarette right out of your mouth." Smokers everywhere beware, she looked serious.
She has performed with the circus and had the honor of performing on The Bozo Show in 1970 alongside her husband, William Hunt III. She told us that she began training when she was 16 years old and became very good at it.
With whip cracking in her past, Phyllis now focuses on her family and making her delicious gourmet, homemade pasta.