Episode 11

Episode 11

Today we’re going to learn about this amazing community cooking school in San Francisco, called 18 reasons.

 

Episode 10

Episode 10

Today I’m talking to Ave Lampert about sustainability, equity and justice through food.

 

Episode 9

Episode 9

 

Episode 9 – Maxime Pouvreau from Petit Pot shares his love of food with us

In episode 9, Maxime Pouvreau, founder of Petit Pot, a delicious, sweet, creamy pudding line, shares a lot with us! His journey from being a little kid with a big dream to a successful food entrepreneur, his favorite tool in the kitchen as well as his current favorite places to eat out in the Bay Area and which recipe book gives him some inspiration at home.

Here is the transcript for those who would rather read:

VFG  0:06  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to what gets your cooking the podcast giving you a new way to look at

it and share it. This is Virginie, your host. And every Thursday I’m publishing a new episode. Solocast or interviewing a food expert to share our experiences and tips to simplify your cooking.

Today , in episode 9, my guest is Maxime Pouvreau, founder of Petit Pot, who’s going to share with us his perspective of food and his journey from an ambitious kid with a sweet tooth to a food entrepreneur. Hello, and welcome, Max. And thank you very much for being our guest today.

Max  0:46  

Thank you very much for having me. pleased to be here.

VFG  0:50  

So we first met a couple of months ago at the food innovators forum in San Francisco. And you were one of the experts invited to share your experience with other food entrepreneurs. Why don’t we get started? Can you tell us more about how it all started for you? How did you get interested in cooking or baking?

Max  1:10  

Yeah, so I actually have this picture that my mother took when I was six or seven years old and I was making a cake and there’s a picture of me pouring sugar into a mixer at my grandmother’s house. I’ve really been surrounded by food my whole life, and I always had a sweet tooth. And, and so it was just kind of, in me since day one. And when I was 12 I started to actually be interested in being a pastry chef, professionally and so I would visit the local pastry shop where I grew up in the south of France. And during the school vacation, I would actually go there and work and, then at 15, I started my apprenticeship. In France, we have this kind of vocational system where you can can be an apprentice and you work three weeks of the month at a pastry shop or whatever trade. For me it was pastry. And then one week of the month I would go to a pastry college. And I did that for about two years, three years. This is kind of where my culinary career started. And then eventually I moved on to work in other pastry shop around the world. I traveled quite a bit. And then I moved on to the restaurant industry and worked in fine dining restaurants in Paris, and then eventually in England. Then I moved to San Francisco about 10 years ago. I came here to work at a Michelin star restaurant as well.

VFG  2:52  

That was a really early vocation. That’s so great.

Max  2:56  

Yeah, it’s kind of how it is in France, when you do an apprenticeship, you start very young. It’s has its pros and cons, but it worked for me pretty well. 

VFG  3:10  

how did you realize that? What was the turning point for you? Did you always kind of grow and went along the path or were there really important moments?

Max  3:23  

I kinda always knew. From a very young age, I was very determined to be a pastry chef. And, that was the thing, and I wanted to be the best. And I worked at the best places I could possibly work at and learned from the best chefs. I was…, I am pretty stubborn and so I knew I wanted to be a very good pastry chef and so that’s kind of what I went for. But then I did burn out a little bit. I mean, seven to eight years working as a chef, I was realizing that I don’t think I could physically do this my whole life. It’s physically really difficult.

VFG  4:03  

How many hours a day were you cooking?

Max  4:06  

You cook for 12, over 12 hours a day. It was definitely long, long weeks. I’ve had weeks when I was I remember being 16 and it was my first Christmas week at that pastry shop. I remember working 80 – 85 hours or something like that. It was just crazy. 

VFG  4:24  

Very intense. Yes.

Max  4:28  

But I always wanted to start my own business. This is why I kind of moved on to do what I’m doing now and started this Petit Pot business, which is not quite the same. I’m not cooking as much as I used to. I’m cooking for me personally, but I don’t cook professionally anymore. And I have a business where I’m more of a businessman than a cook.

VFG  4:59  

So how about did that transition go for you? I’m interested.

Max  5:03  

It was very organic. When I moved to San Francisco, I realized that I couldn’t find the creamy desserts that I find everywhere in grocery stores in France. And this is kind of how I had the idea that something was missing in the US for premium puddings. I was working at a restaurant and used the kitchen at night, when the restaurant was closed, to develop the product and the recipes and the packaging. And then during the day, I would go sell it in the grocery stores in San Francisco. And I did that for a few months. And then eventually it kind of grew. And then I just couldn’t manage to have the job at the same time. So I moved down to the commercial kitchen to make the product. And I quit my day job. And then it evolved and then eventually I got a bigger kitchen. And then we moved to a big factory. It’s a 20,000 square feet factory in the bay area.

VFG  5:58  

That’s was pretty fast because you started what, four or five years ago?

Max  6:03  

Five years ago. And now we’re in 5000 grocery stores in the country.

VFG  6:12  

Well, that’s an amazing story. Stubbornness can be a real strength. 

Max

Absolutely. 

VFG

As a French person, I do agree with you that was missing in the aisles of the supermarket. So thank you for that. So, can I ask you what’s your inspiration? What food do you like in general nowadays? Like our like to cook? Is it depending on the season?

Max  6:42  

I’m very busy at work, I have to say, so I don’t have time to go shopping much, except on weekends. So my girlfriend usually shops, she goes to the grocery store. And then when I come home, I open the fridge, see what’s here and I just come up with something. I that’s kind of how I doit: I open the fridge I say there’s some vegetables. It is seasonal because we tend to buy seasonal vegetables. And we’re also trying to eat less meat than we used to. I love meat. But I realized that it’s not so great for the environment, so we are pushing towards a more vegetarian diet, even though we’re not vegetarian. So, I would open the fridge and see what’s there and then just try to come up with something that is tasty and fresh.

VFG  7:33  

And do you think that it comes from good habits? Was it because a lot of people were cooking in your family when you were younger? 

Max

Definitely.

VFG

Because I know that I see a lot of people were struggling and having ideas. So…

Max  7:47  

Absolutely. I mean, I also have some time where I just don’t know what to do. And I do open a cookbook. But yes, I think the fact that the family I grew up in was cooking a lot. And the fact that I’ve worked in restaurants my whole life makes it so that I have a broader knowledge of what could be done with each ingredients. So that makes it a little bit easier for me. But sometimes I get stuck. And actually, in terms of inspiration lately, there is a cookbook that I really like and the chef is called Ottolenghi. It’s a Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s a mix between Palestinian and Israeli food. And I find it very delicious. And the recipes are very easy to make.

VFG  8:36  

That sounds really yummy. I love middle eastern food too. Now, do you share your food with a lot of people? How often would you say that you cook at home? every day or a couple of times a week?

Max  8:53  

So I don’t like to cook for myself. I love to cook for my girlfriend but the more the better. I like to cook for multiple people. So I love to have friends over and cook for them or family. We have people over twice a month or three times a month for dinner parties. But on a weekly basis, I cook maybe three times a week, three to four times a week. And then the rest of the time. It’s either my girlfriend cooking, or we go out to eat. I love to go out to eat. I think being in the industry of restaurant for so many years, going out to eat is something that I really love to do. So we go out to eat on a regular basis.

VFG  9:35  

What’s your top three, your favorite places to eat in the Bay Area at the moment?

Max  9:41  

So at the moment, my number one is La Ciccia and it’s been my number one for a long time. It’s a Sardinian restaurant in Noe Valley, in San Francisco. A really small place and they’ve been there for like 15 years, the menu probably hasn’t changed in 15 years either. It’s just very solid traditional food from Italy, Sardinia. And I find it very delicious. So that’s number one. Number two, I would say there is a restaurant called Rich Table in San Francisco that I really like.

VFG  10:16  

And they do farm to table, right?

Max  10:19  

Yes, it’s farm to table. And the chef is a chef that I used to work with when I was at Coi in San Francisco. Then, on more like a lower price range and just kind of casual, I really like Chinese food, and there’s an amazing Chinese restaurant in Oakland called Shandong that I think is amazing. They make their own pasta on site, and you can see them do the job. And it’s fun, and it’s very delicious.

VFG  10:45  

I already had lunch, but now I’m hungry again. Now, what is the tool that you that you use at home most to cook? Is it like just a pan? Or do you have a special thing or special tip maybe for people cooking at home and trying to simplify the way they just envision cooking?

Max  11:09  

I actually I do have something that I think is key and that every French house has but that’s very hard to find in the US sometime, a garlic crusher. I think that’s super useful. Because when you crush the garlic, it brings out so much more flavor, it grinds it much more finely than cutting it with a knife. It’s also so much faster. When you take a clove of garlic and try and chop it really finely. It takes so much time and effort. But if you have the garlic press, you just put in there and crush it. And it’s very quick and delicious.

VFG  11:51  

Yeah, it is true. I’ve seen that in a lot of families in France, but I don’t see all my friends having that and using that here.

Max  12:00  

Yeah, it’s very useful. Very, very useful.

VFG  12:05  

And garlic is very healthy as well.

Max  12:07  

Yeah, definitely.

VFG  12:10  

I wanted to go back into what you shared with us about how you always had that dream to become a pastry chef. I want to ask you what did it mean for you as a child? What did you envision when you were thinking about being a pastry chef?

Max  12:31  

Eating lots of desserts!

VFG  12:36  

That was just the appeal of sugar!

Max  12:39  

Yeah, the appeal for sugar. And there was also the fact that I was never excited by the regular school system and I wanted to get out. So I decided to learn a trade. And that’s also part of it. But mostly, wanting to make desserts, and knowing how to make delicious desserts. That was something I really wanted to know. I was wondering how do you make eclairs? Those eclairs looks amazing! How do you make that so I just wanted to learn all these things.

VFG  13:11  

And later on when you got into Michelin restaurants, how did you get that, that will to go and push through because, as everyone knows, or can probably guess, it’s very intense. And you need to work, as you said, very long hours, and it’s extra competitive. 

Max  13:39  

The drive to be the best, the drive to be good and learning from the best as well. When you get into those restaurants,  they see it as you it’s a treat for you to work for them. Like they’re gifting you that opportunity. And in a way they are, because you work with the best chefs in the world and you learn from them. So it’s learning that trade, learning how to cook that was very motivating, and driving. You work alongside the best pastry chefs and chefs in the world. And then you learn from them. It’s just, it was amazing! That was definitely what I was looking for, to learn those skills, and learn how to make certain things and learn to make delicious food. But it is draining and it was very tiring.

VFG 14:33  

And it was like, Well, I don’t want to say emotionally but you know how it can really be a struggle for certain people because it is really demanding.

Max 14:44  

Well, even emotionally. Physically, it’s difficult because you work long hours, but emotionally it’s difficult too, because the people, your chefs, your supervisors… there’s this culture of putting down people and screaming and yelling and it’s emotionally is very difficult.

VFG 15:06  

So how did you make it through all that?

Max  15:11  

Just stubbornness, and drive to learn.

VFG  15:17  

So learning was really what mattered most? To get more tools etc.

Max  15:26  

Yes, and the passion for food! I mean, you still love to cook at the end of day and that kind of overcomes all the difficulties that come with the training.

VFG  15:38  

That’s one of the things I was curious about. What’s your favorite food? In this season in the fall?

Max  15:47  

It’s funny, there’s so many things that I used to find kind of weird… like pumpkin pie for example. Actually I love a good pumpkin pie now! There’s some really bad ones, but a good one is delicious.

VFG  16:05  

Yes. 

Max  16:07  

The whole thanksgiving thing is awesome! I’ve been here for 10 years I have family here now.

VFG  16:17  

Do you cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal?

Max  16:20  

Yes … I mean, traditional but upgraded. For instance, the turkey, I think the turkey is often very bad, very dry. But there’s ways to make it taste better, by brining it or doing a barbecue. So you can make a much tastier Turkey.

VFG  16:43  

That sounds great to me. My husband and I are both French, so we took about a couple of cooking classes around the Thanksgiving turkey because we were really afraid of that dry turkey.

Max 16:57  

Yeah, brining is key.

VFG 17:00  

Well, with all those tips, I just want to thank you and ask you how we can know more about Petit Pot.

Max  17:10  

So you can look on our website: www.petitpot.com. That’s where you’ll find our information. Also, you can find it at your local Whole Foods. It’s in every Whole Foods in the country. And most of the safe ways as well. And you can find the product out there. And you can go on our social media, Facebook and Instagram pages where you can find some more information.

VFG  17:36  

Okay, well, great. Thank you so much for being with us today. And have a great rest of the week.

Max  17:42  

Thank you very much for having me.

VFG  17:44  

Thanks, Max. Bye. Thank you everyone for listening to our weekly episode of What Gets You Cooking. If you liked it, review it on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast. That’s the best way to support it. Thank you and see you next week.

PS: all comments only represent my own opinion and there is no affiliated links

 

 

Episode 8

Episode 8

Welcome Back everyone!

Here is a sweet short episode to tell you how happy I am to be back. I will also give you some sneak peeks into the upcoming interviews on the podcast!

Happy listening!

Episode 7

Episode 7

credit: Nicole Seguin Photography

In today’s episode, Perrine will share her path to enjoying cooking and how she launched Kids At The Table (with me) this year.

So, what is KATT?

It is a pilot program for a food education program in the classrooms.

 

 

Episode 6

Episode 6

Today, we’re going to talk about time saving tips.

 

 

Episode 5

Episode 5

credit: jiyounglee.space

In today’s episode, Jenn will share plenty of tips she uses for her family, her favorite tools and how she helps other moms feel good in their bodies.

AFTER this interview, I watched Embrace, a documentary on women’s body image by Australian photographer Taryn Brumfitt. I think you may want to watch it too! Here is a link to Common Sense Media’s review (for those of you who may not know, common sense media is a great resource for parents and caregivers about how age appropriate are the media. Since 2003, Common Sense has been the leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools. Every day, millions of parents and educators trust Common Sense reviews and advice to help them navigate the digital world with their kids. Together with policymakers, industry leaders, and global media partners, they’re building a digital world that works better for all kids, their families, and their communities). In the US, you can watch it on Netflix.

Here is the full transcript:

Virginie: Hello, everyone, and welcome to What Gets You Cooking, the podcast revisiting the way we look at food, cook it and share it. This is Virginie your host and today my guest is Jenn Middaugh from Mom Bods. She’s going to give us her perspective on food. Jenn launched Mom Bods with Denise about a year ago. It is a fitness lifestyle community designed to help women take care of their bodies and create life changing results through exercise and nutrition. Hello, Jenn, how are you today?

Jenn: I’m good. How are you?

Virginie: I’m doing well. Let’s dive in right now. Can you tell us a little bit about what is it that you’re doing at Mom Bods?

Jenn: At Mom Bods, we’re trying to be a motivating and inspiring resource for moms who are maybe struggling with their own body image after having kids, struggling to make things work, living a healthy lifestyle, but being really busy and tired. And also just trying to make it work feeding yourself healthy food and feeding your family. The same healthy food right? A lot of moms want to be on a diet. But that doesn’t always work if you’re trying to feed your kids the same food.

Virginie: Yeah, absolutely. We all know that struggle.

Jenn: Yeah. 

Virginie: So how did you get started being interested in food, especially related to helping moms?

Jenn: I think my journey started when I was a kid. I really struggled with my body image as a kid and I had an eating disorder starting around adolescence, I wasn’t really brought up around a lot of whole food, I definitely was in the microwave food generation. So a lot of sugar, a lot of low fat, which of course we now know isn’t the best way to go. And then I had all these eating issues. And, as I grew up and got education about fitness and nutrition, and then started working in the fitness industry, I didn’t want people to go through the same things that I went through. I know as a mom that our kids are looking at us ao we need to set the example so that our kids don’t have those body image issues and bad relationship with food that I had.

Virginie: Wow, that’s a very interesting mission. And there’s a lot to do in this area.

Jenn: Yes. And I see it with my daughter, too. She’s 10. And around this age, you already start to see some of those body image issues, comparing ourselves to other girls.

Virginie: yeah, and it does start early.

Jenn: And it’s tough. Right? So how can we establish a healthy relationship with food for ourselves, when we’re going through our own body image issues after having kids? And then let our kids see that and be able to relate to that?

Virginie: Yeah, absolutely. So regarding the cooking aspect of things? I think it’s a balance of things, as you said, it’s not only the food we put in our bodies, but also how we use our bodies, and workout and everything. But what gets you cooking, what is inspiring to you, when you’re in your kitchen?

Jenn: I’d say I’m very whole foods, and I have sort of a paleo mindset. We try and reduce processed food as much as possible and just eat from the earth. Things that are easy to cook. Where we’re not spending a long amount of time. I use my slow cooker a lot too. And then things that the kids can get involved in as well, with chopping foods and mixing and all of that sort of stuff. I know a lot of people say that kids should have a fun experience with food and for some of my family members, that means they should be having Oreos and food like that. But we try and limit that and create fun with food by making our own cookies or cupcakes or whatever it may be. And then we try and reduce the amount of sugar and increase the amount of fat, healthy fats, that we’re getting as we do that.

Virginie: I agree with you. It’s important to have kids exposed early on, so they can get involved and interested in all kinds of foods, not just what’s what’s ready made for you.

Jenn: Yes. And knowing that the work we put in the kitchen is part of it.

Virginie: Absolutely.

Jenn: And try to create an experience around that. So it doesn’t seem like it’s always a chore. But know that you do have to put some time into it if you’re going to take care of your body.

Virginie: And how is that going on? Maybe not daily basis, but weekly basis? Do you think that they help you once a week? or How often would you say that the whole family cooks together?

Jenn: On the weekend. The weekdays are definitely tough with that. But we try and do as much food prep as possible on the weekend so that things are pretty easy to grab and go through the week.

Virginie: Yeah, I think that’s very smart. And that’s what I’m seeing more and more people doing at the moment. I think it’s very helpful.

Jenn: Especially once your kids are in that school age. And you’re sort of running around all over the place, taking them to school, and then after school activities. And there’s not always time to have a sit down meal together for dinner and whatnot. But of course, we don’t want to just let the nutrition slide because we’re busy during the week.

Virginie: So what’s your favorite food or your favorite tool of the moment?

Jenn: I would say we’re doing a lot of the vegetable noodles right now the zucchini noodles and squash, butternut squash noodles, beet noodles. The kids seem to really take to that, especially when I put them in things like last night, we had a green curry chicken that I added the zucchini noodles too. And once they get to that right consistency, they’re soft enough that the kids will really take to them. That’s a great way to get extra vegetables in them.

Virginie: I think that’s a great idea. And I’m curious about the tool now that you’ve mentioned the zuchini noodles. What do you use? Do you make to make them at home? Do you buy them already made?

Jenn: A mix of both. I use this spiralizer on the weekends, but a lot of grocery stores now have those noodles you can buy pre made. And it’s definitely one of those things that, if I’m short on time, I will just run and grab those.

Virignie: Yeah, that is helpful.

Jenn: We also do a lot of smoothies, which have been popular for a long time now. I always add in spinach and or kale, and sometimes some green powders and algae powders. And then mix in and things like chia seeds, hemp seeds as well, you can just put so many things in there that aren’t always the easiest things to get kids to eat. And it’s so quick and easy. Throw everything in a blender, and then that’s meal for the whole family.

Virginie: I think that is very helpful, because you can do it even in the morning if you have everything set up. It’s definitely helpful. I remember the lady who cared for the kids at my oldest son’s daycare, was doing a lot of smoothies for the babies because some of them were really picky. And that was her way of including beets and spinach and all of that. Blend in with bananas. And they loved it!

Jenn: I always found that when my kids were babies, I was surprised more people didn’t use smoothies for their babies. We’re always making these baby purees that have really cooked food for long periods of time. But we don’t seem to give babies smoothies with fresh raw foods in them. Which maybe isn’t good when they’re six months old. But once they’re getting past a year it’s ok to give them more of that.

Virginie: Absolutely. I think that’s a very, very nice and easy way to get more veggies.

Jenn: Yes. And then for anyone to that feels like they’re short on time on weekdays. One of my go to if we’re having a really busy week, is to use the slow cooker. Put some sort of meat, whether it be a roast beef or chicken, add some frozen vegetables and little bit of bone broth. And that’s it.

Virginie: I think that’s also a very good thing to use. At the moment more and more people are using the instant pot. That’s really similar to a slow cooker. And you have so many great recipes now. And, as you said, it doesn’t have to be fancy or take a lot of time. That’s helpful for working moms.

Jenn: I haven’t gotten into the Instant Pot yet, although I’ve seen it around a lot. But one thing that I really love about the slow cooker, is how easy it is in the morning to throw everything in there. And then your house fills with that aroma of the food for the whole day.

Virginie:  Absolutely.

Jenn: It helps to build everyone’s appetite.

Virginie: So talking about appetite, it brings me right to my next question for you. That’s how do you share your food?

Jenn: Within our family? or?

Virginie: Yeah, in general, whatever take you want to take on it.

Jenn: So I would say that we are not very fancy. We’re not big on the way we present food. And part of that is probably just because my kids are quite young still. And I would say that the favorite way to share our food is outside. Having our meals outside and enjoying nature as we are eating seems to calm everybody down. I feel like the kids really get more into their meals when they’re outside. Whereas when they’re inside they tend to be a little bit more rambunctious and running around.

Virginie: That’s a very interesting perspective. Last week in my solocast I was just saying that I was also inspired by that, talking about simplicity, because we went camping. So eating outside and yes, I think there is something to it.

Jenn: Even just that, like when you’re camping, cooking over a fire or, if you’re at home cooking over the BBQ is just seems like a different perspective on food. It feels more primal for sure than when we’re inside cooking over the stove or using the oven. I always feel like it’s a more enjoyable experience.

Virginie: I think you need to take your time. And you really need to, for me at least, think about things in a simpler way, like less tools, less dishes and all of that.

Jenn: Yes, dishes is a big part, right? I feel like on my busiest nights, the dishes can really turn me off from wanting to cook anything.

Virginie: That is very true. I think a lot of people will recognize themselves in that.

Jenn: And then I would also say one other thing that really inspires me in food is that I definitely have a sweet tooth. And I’ve had to learn over the years how to prepare desserts and sweets without using real sugar so that I can stay healthy and stay fit. And then I want to share that with my kids. It’s always a fun experience having things like cake and ice cream with kids. But how do we indulge in these things without  derailing our healthy lifestyles? So I’ve learned how to use a lot of almond flour, coconut flour, using alternative sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit. And as we cook that becomes a lot of our sharing experience with the kids too. When we’re creating those dishes together and finishing them off with things like the sprinkles and all of that.

Virginie: I think that is very helpful. And it’s nice to share those resources. So what do you what do you share with those moms that you’re helping with Mom Bods?

Jenn: We try and share tips that will make it easier for them to enjoy healthier foods with their families, as well as how to fit fitness into your lifestyle. We focus on express work, 10 to 15 minutes, so you don’t have to spend two hours at a gym every day, and you can get what you need through that workout. So then you have more time to do things like spend time in the kitchen or spend time with your kids.

Virginie: I think that’s very useful. I’m following that kind of model for my own lifestyle. So I agree completely.

Jenn: And we’re also just trying to help people have a better body image, especially after having kids, as a lot of us tend to feel uncomfortable in our own skin, and maybe set some unrealistic expectations of what we should look like, or maybe it’s society that sets those expectations for us.

Virginie: Being French, I can relate to that strongly. Being in the US, it’s kind of interesting, or having traveled, more than being in the US, I feel that this is a little bit less strong here. But every time I go back, it is very, very strong. Yes. The perfect woman body that you are expected to get back to quickly.

Jenn: And I think the idea of a mom bod, if we all think about our own mothers, it wasn’t as much of a concern back in the days to be super fit and have all this muscle tone that’s expected now after having kids. And women were a little bit more covered up back then too. But now, we’re seeing on social media, celebrities that have babies and very quickly, they’re showing off their abs. They set the bar pretty high for the average woman when, in that postpartum period, most of us just want to focus on nurturing our babies and breastfeeding rather than hitting the gym and being on a strict diet.

Virginie: Right. So when did you start this business?

Jenn: We’ve been doing it for about a year now. Denise, my business partner, and I were both personal trainers. And most of the women that we work with are in that 30 to 50 age category. And we just see so many women suffering with this bad body image, and really wanting to get to that point where they’re looking good in their bikinis. But it’s almost like we have these mental roadblocks, we’ll get to the gym. And we’ll try and focus on the way that we’re eating. But eventually, we hit that mental roadblock. And it’s, it’s almost a negativity that we can’t get past and we feel so down that we just end up giving up. So we’re trying to give women a more realistic path, so that they can get to that point where you want to get by being moderate in your approach to fitness and nutrition, rather than feeling like you have to go so hard two hours in the gym every day and eating really lean, which always ends up failing.

Virginie: So is that a membership base? Can you tell us a bit more of how it works? And who can join? Does it have to be local? Is it all online?

Jenn: It’s all online, and we have a Facebook page, it’s under mom bods. And anyone can like our Facebook page, we also have our blog, that’s mombods.ca. We will be launching a subscription based service for our private page. Right now we’re allowing anyone to join our private page. So if they’ve liked our public page, then they can sign up for our private page for free. But eventually, we’re going to start the subscription based service for that.

Virginie: And once you joined, how does it work?

Jenn: In the private page, which we call the mom bod squad community, you get daily workout. At the beginning of every month, we release seven workouts for the first seven days. And then you repeat those seven workouts throughout the month. So it gives you that workout program to focus on. And then every month, it changes the workout program. We also just try and provide a community sense within the group. So everybody is working together, uplifting each other, sharing advice.

Virginie: Very interesting. I like that. What is one of the best tip that you have given to those women or that you’ve heard or received yourself.

Jenn: Actually an article I just wrote was about six pack abs and how this seems to be the goal for so many people. To have that nice definition in the abdominals. And a lot of women come into personal training with that goal of the really lean stomach. But this article that I wrote was really telling women that the healthy body fat percentage for women is 21 to 32%. And, at that body fat percentage, we don’t have defined abs. And so many women spoke to me after this article, because they really, really appreciated it. It’s something that they didn’t know.

Virginie: I think everyone should hear that.

Jenn: And we talked about your what it takes to have those ads, your body fat percentage has to be between nine and 15%. And it’s not that we can’t get to that point, but you’re going to have to sacrifice a lot to get to that point. For most moms, we don’t want to make those sacrifices, because we want to be able to enjoy life with our families. And that means enjoying food and not being in the gym all the time. And, even if we can get to that body fat percentage, our bodies don’t naturally want to stay there. So you’ll get there, and then that body fat will start to creep back on because we need that amount of body fat in order to have hormonal balance. That’s normal fertility, and just the maintenance of good general health prevention of chronic disease.

Virginie: Thank you. That’s a great note to end the show today. I want to thank you so much for coming and joining us and sharing all those great tips.

Jenn: Yeah, no problem. Thank you for having me.

Virginie: Once again, where people can join you is on the Facebook page at mom bods.

Jenn: Yes, that’s right.

Virginie: And you can sign up for free. So take advantage people!

Jenn: Perfect. Thank you.

Virginie: Have a great day today. Yes, thank you

Jenn: have a great day as well. Bye.

Virginie: Bye. Bye. Thank you everyone for listening today. If you like what you heard, leave me a review in iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. I’ll share all the resources and the show notes on the website at what gets you cooking. See you next Tuesday.

Episode 4

Episode 4

In episode 4, I share with you some of my inspirations for simple cooking and why it matters to nourish your body.

Show notes are coming!

 

Episode 3

Episode 3

illustration by Ji Young Lee

In episode 3, Jessica takes us on her journey to help parents get inspired for packing lunch boxes everyday.

Here is the transcript if you prefer reading:

Hello everyone and welcome to What Gets You Cooking, the podcast revisiting the way we look at food, cook it and share it. This is Virginie your host and today,  in Episode Three, my guest is Jessica Gury. She’s going to share the story of how she built TEUKO, the lunch box community. To give you a little background Jessica co-founded Teuko with another month, Alexandra Gabalda. They met while volunteering at their kids’ school and later found out that they were both trying, separately, to create a system to pack healthy lunches that their children would enjoy. Alexandra and Jessica found their mission: bring technology into the daily lunch packing routine, saving parents time and leaving them inspired and motivated.

Virginie: Hello, Jessica, and welcome to the show today. Thank you so much for being one of our first guest. Thank you. Why don’t we get started by what brought you to investing the lunch boxes area.

Jessica: Hi, everyone, I’m Jessica Gury, the co-founder and CEO of Teuko, the online community for lunch box packers. At Teuko, we help busy families be happier with a simple lunch packing experience. I came to this because I am a mom. I’m French. And when I came to the US in 2011 lunch packing was a total new world for me. My kids are now six and nine. But when my kid was four years old he started preschool. It was fun to prepare lunchboxes at the beginning, but it son became like hell in the kitchen. So I had to find a solution. And this is how the idea of cooking more to to have healthy lifestyle to enjoy food to make it easy, simpler, fun, came up.

Virginie – When dis it all start?

Jessica – The whole cooking experience? I would say when I became a mom, actually. Before, working full time, I wanted everything easy, fast, you know, convenient. And I was not focusing on the healthy or even the foodie aspect of it; even if I’m French and I enjoy food. I was not cooking a lot before becoming a mom.

Virginie – And when did you develop that tool to help, yourself first I guess, and other people next to prepare lunch boxes.

Jessica: I got it stuck in my head thinking I have to find something. So I was looking into cookbooks, magazines, blogs, but I was losing so much time! Being an engineer, I had to build something, a tool. And this is how I built the platform Teuko, where you can find ideas or tools like meal planning at the touch of a button; even statistics on the food you put in your lunch boxes; and motivation, because this is a kind and safe place where you can enjoy and be motivated.

Virginie: And what else do you have out there?

Jessica: First and foremost, we offer ideas about lunch boxes on food items. If you pack daily, if you want to have a life changing experience about it and not living the hell in the kitchen nightmare? On Teuko, you can track what you pack every evening, it just takes 30 seconds: you upload the photo of what you did. You tag with the food items and it’s created! So it’s very convenient and super easy. Like this, you can have your own journal. And you don’t have to remember what you packed, yesterday or the day before. It’s all gathered in Teuko.

Virginie – You define Teuko as a community of lunchboxes. So I’m curious to know how many people are followers or members of the community at the moment.

Jessica: Teuko started with just two people: me and my co founder, Alexandra, who is another French mom. Then we spoke with our friends. And then it became a community group. It was not only our friends, but friends of friends and so on. And now we are more than 18,000 persons on social networks, following Teuko. And we’re almost at 3000 people sharing lunch box ideas. Our community is pretty diverse: it’s not just people here in the USA, we’ve got people in Canada, in Australia, in many countries. As of last December, there were people from 37 countries. Imagine!

Virginie: Wow!

Jessica: yes. We are just parents, people packing lunches every day, but we are unified. All together in this, thanks to food. That’s the beauty of it.

Virginie: So what did this community change in the way you look at food now?

Jessica: I look at food and see food brings us together. Because we are all living in different parts of the world. Food is so real, so fresh. This is how we can be together and we can enjoy and we can have a positive experience. And then we had but you know, diversity in food creates awesome community experiences. And by being together from everywhere in the world, that’s amazing!

Virginie: I can see that. It’s very interesting to me that you don’t have to be in person to create that community and feel together. I think that’s really amazing.

Jessica: Thank you. The community is amazing, with the creativity, all the colors, the textures.

Virginie: That brings me right to my next question for you. That’s about your inspiration, what gets you cooking?

Jessica: I am totally inspired by all these people on Teuko, sharing their awesome lunch boxes. And when I travel or when I want to escape from my day to day routine, or I want to try something new, it helps me. I try to cook different styles. I live in California and I’m French. But sometimes I want to cook Mexican or Japanese or food from other countries.

Virginie: And if I’m using your platform, I would guess like you can see different parts of the world right there.

Jessica: Yeah, definitely. This is funny, because I always say by being together, you know, we are feeling stronger and happier. I had the chance to get some feedback from us mom who lives now in Japan, a Frenchman living in Panama. That’s amazing. You know, with food. We don’t have any borders. Actually.

Virginie: That’s a very interesting part of the story, especially nowadays. But I’m curious, what’s your favorite tool or food this week?

Jessica: I would say it’s the steamer, because it’s so easy to use. You boil the water and you just put your veggies in. Bingo! In 20 minutes, it’s cooked. And it’s very healthy!

Virginie: And how do you share your food? It’s great to have the online community. But when you’re in person, what is it like? Do you often go out? Do you eat at home with your family most of the time? How does that work?

Jessica: Most of the time I share my meals with my family, meaning my husband and two kids. Otherwise, it’s with my family when they are visiting. They’re coming very soon. So this will be very festive. We will be cooking a lot. Otherwise, I like to share my meals with friends. We have to enjoy. Having a nice presentation, tasty, fresh food, and lots of laughter and talks. Food gathers people.

Virginie: That sounds really amazing. I can’t wait to have lunch with you soon.

Jessica: Sure, we’ll have to do something.

Virginie: Finally, what would you like to share with us? If you had one or two tips that you found really useful through your experience that you would like to share with our listeners today?

Jessica: I would say, when I open the fridge and I look at the food I have. I just try to ask somebody, what’s the easiest food I can put together. And from that,  be creative. This is how you do it, little by little, you broaden your food experience, I would say, very visually. For instance, I was running out of tomato sauce, and, usually my kids love that tomato sauce. This is their treat. But I had spinach. So that was the compromise. And this was new for them. And it went well! Actually, little by little, you can twist your recipes and create new experiences, even for the kids.

Virginie: Yes, I totally agree with that. Now I wanted to give you the chance to share with everyone who is listening, where can they find Teuko.

Jessica: Teuko is a web app, so you just go on the web, TEUKO.com and this is free for you. You can sign up and everything is free. You’ll receive awesome newsletters with weekly inspirations, and everything is free: the lunch box ideas, organization, tools, and of course the motivation; and also the friends you can make the platform.

Virginie: Wonderful. Well, thank you again, Jessica. Have a great rest of your week.

Jessica: Thank you. Bye bye.

Thank you everyone for listening to the show today. You can find all the show notes on the website and what gets cooking next Tuesday.

 

 

 

Episode 2

Episode 2

illustration by Ji Young Lee

In episode 2, Chef Alison Mountford tells us how meal planning can help us reduce food waste.

  • Hello everyone and welcome to What Gets You Cooking, the podcast giving you a new way to look at food, the way we cook it and share it. This is Virginie your host and today my guest is Alison Mountford from Ends and Stems. She’s going to give us her perspective on food. Alison launched Ends and Stems last year. It is a meal planning program to help families enjoy cooking dinner and reduce waste, because 40% of all our food produced in the US is wasted. But your biggest stress is deciding what to cook tonight. Hello, and welcome Alison. Thank you.
  • Thank you for having me.
  • So the first I heard about you was last fall on a Facebook group when you were just about to launch Ends and Stems. Can you tell us more about how what gets you started and interested in food?
  • I have to go all the way back to my childhood for that one. My grandpa was a great cook, my mom was really into baking. And you know, I was growing up the 80s and 90s. And she was making those giant shaped cakes. She’d make cakes in the shape of a tennis racket or one time she made a football course for my brother on his birthday. She was just experimenting with with these grand creations and she never sold them. It was never a business. In our refrigerator, we actually had a whole section that was just the icing shelf, and it had colors and textures and styles of icing so that if she needed to suddenly make a cake so that was just always the sort of a vibe in my house. My brother and I were always encouraged to play with food and get in there and create. Then it was in high school, the Food Network started getting really big, and I would watch and watch and I was sort of artistic also. The two just kind of went together for me. So, as I had to figure out what to do with my life and how to choose a career, I took the old advice of making your hobby, your career. And I went into food, after going to college and studying anthropology major and that didn’t lead to a career. I heard about being a personal chef and loved the idea and the challenge of being a business owner and putting the pieces together. I made my business in food because that was the that was the creative outlet that I wanted. Those two pieces seem to really fulfill what I was looking to do.Ends and Stems is technically my second or maybe my third business. My first business was a personal chef and catering business and I sold that at the end of 2015.
  • All right, well, you’ve been a chef for what, 15 years now?
  • Yeah. 15 years. It’s crazy.
  • That’s great to be able to give all of that knowledge to every family around here.
  • I feel like as I as I was trying to build this business, and selling my first business, really closing it down in a way because it’s not like somebody operating it now it was sort of sold for parts. I felt like I wasn’t sure if I was giving up or if it meant anything… I worked so hard for 10 years on that business and now it’s just gone. So I had a lot of conflict around it and I felt kind of insecure or thought that it didn’t matter. But what I can see now with some space in between that process and starting this business, is that it was experience and knowledge and hands on, and I’ve cooked meals for thousands and thousands of people and millions of dollars worth of food, I’ve cooked and sold to people, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now without that experience. So it makes sense. I’ve been able to see that it matters, and I can take pride in what I did before and all my decisions, even selling a business was actually a cool experience just to learn about the life cycle business, too.
  • And that must have changed your perspective, maybe on food or cooking a little bit, from when you were studying anthropology to chef to now helping people prepare their meals.
  • Well, my ideal meal and ideal cooking process has actually become simplified over the years. I think at the beginning when you’re young and you know, trying to break into the food industry and you see people doing all these crazy and exploratory things, or putting dishes together that you’ve never heard of, and you have this sense that somehow you have to break the mold or be as innovative as they are. And I’ve actually gone in the other direction where the food that I’m really interested in now, and the food that I’d rather eat now, is much more simple. It’s more the old school, grandma cooking. If you could make an amazing dinner with six ingredients. I’m more interested in that and helping people prepare something simple and beautiful and wholesome. But without a lot of the barrier breaking, competitive, artistic side of things. I think that food has a place but that’s not my world of food.
  • I agree with you. And that’s what I’m trying to do with this podcast as well, to make it more simple. So people can understand that it doesn’t have to be super fancy every night. It doesn’t have to be complicated with a million ingredients and hours of cooking.
  • You can do some things in advance and simplify some techniques. And if you’re in the mood for something barrier breaking and innovative, that’s maybe what restaurants are still for. And you can go out. There’s always going to be these these wild chefs that are doing brand new things and always push the limits, but that’s not me. Maybe having kids and seeing them eat and introducing them to a variety of ingredients and dinners also encourages me to simplify things now. And getting families cooking! And doing this together is just easier when your grocery list for the week only contains 20 or 25 items and you can make five different meals from that. I’m really enjoying my new business is about helping people feel confident and cooking at home and seeing that it can be simple. The flavors can be simple, and the ingredients can be simple, too.
  • Absolutely. So what gets you cooking? What’s your inspiration of the moment?
  • It’s funny, I have two different answers to that question, because, as a professional chef, I think this old adage is really true: the cobbler’s kids have no shoes. I cook all day, every day. I sit here and I write recipes. I’m currently in the process of writing 42 different recipes that I will then have to go and test. We were just talking about how I did a big photoshoot for these 42 different recipes. I’m so immersed in it all day long that at the end of the day when my family needs to eat, I’m tired and that is not what inspires me to cook. There are two sides of me for sure. There is the side that’s so interested in putting together recipes from ingredients I’ve seen at the farmers market, like now, with spring, I see asparagus and peas are looking beautiful and I just had pea shoots the other day and they’re so crunchy and delicious and fresh. We’re going to see strawberries and blueberries soon. So as a chef, I want to get my hands on those and create beautiful recipes and find different ways to eat these ingredients. But I think as a business owner, and as a mom and somebody who is just tired and hungry and needs to tick a box at the end of the day, I’m just looking for something really simple. So it’s a depending on the day and the time of day. Either ingredients that get me inspired or just really the simple process of doing all the steps from washing the strawberries to slicing them carefully and putting them on a plate. That process is inspirational and fun. But then on the other hand there is the reality and doing what you can, like last night I made scrambled egg tacos. It’s one of my fastest go to meals that everyone in my house will eat. It’s like scrambled eggs, avocado and some salsa on tortillas. It’s so simple. But just doing that process for my kids and for my family feels important. My daughter cracks the eggs and my son is just about big enough to hold a taco together. It’s really cute to watch him figure that out. So yeah, two sides.
  • That is a very honest answer. It’s also very important for me to involve the kids in the kitchen. And sometimes it’s a challenge because you need to be ready too; to be patient and let them make mistakes so that they can learn.
  • And we only bring them into the kitchen when they’re in the headspace to do it. If it’s been a long day, and they’re just melting down when they get home, it’s not the time to ask them to wash the mushrooms.
  • Exactly.
  • They have to be in the mood for it. I never make it a chore or anything but my daughter who’s almost four is really starting to get into it. She gets really excited when she can help me with things.
  • This is this is really great to be able to see them. And I strongly believe that there is an impact when they are able to get into those kind of habits at very young age.
  • I think so too. I like to take her to the market and have her choose the produce that we’re going to take home or look at the range of vegetables and pick up one that she’s familiar with. Then I’ll have her pick out something she’s never seen before that she thinks she might want to taste and, most of the time, she doesn’t end up liking it on the first try, and that’s fine. But she still was there for the process of choosing it. And, just talking about what, what we could do, what all the options are, I just feel like that’s been a good activity for all of us.
  • As you said, it’s really pretty common that they don’t end up liking something new on the first trial, but you need to keep trying, and most of the time, they do end up liking it.
  • Yes, she’ll at least take a bite. I think because of that process, she’s at least willing to try, if not eat it all. The way she’ll look at it and try it out and see what she thinks. I remember reading a great article when I was in college about how Italians talk about food. I don’t know why it was about Italians, but one of the things they were saying was very dispassionate about whether or not you like or don’t like something. Everybody in your family from grandma to the parents down to the little kids are allowed to have opinions about which foods they do and don’t like. I don’t really like raisins very much. And nobody would ever tell me that I have to eat raisins because I’m a grown up and I get to decide. So when you give your kids that power as well, to have an opinion, that matters. They don’t like spinach. Okay, well, great, but that doesn’t mean you don’t like anything green. You just don’t like spinach, choose something else. I feel like offering a variety of food means we’re able to talk in those terms.
  • Absolutely. And you’ve already told us a little bit about it, but how do you share your food usually. Is it mostly with your family? friends and family? Are there other ways you share? how often?
  • Well I sell food to people. I cook meals and deliver them to the families. So it is literally my job to share food with people and it’s such an amazing thing. One of my clients that I have been cooking for for a lot of years, she sends me pictures of her son like eating a pasta dish that I made or trying snap peas. I’ve only met her son in person maybe three or four times, but I have all these photos of him on my phone that she shared with me about him trying new dishes or taking leftovers in his lunch and her telling me how much he loved them. So I have this really unique connection with people I don’t know really personally. That’s awesome! It’s one of the things I love about my job. So I do share food with with the world that way, certainly by writing my recipes, which is, you know, part of my new business. I’m sharing the tools to create dishes with people all over the world. I have subscribers in Spain and Costa Rica and across the country. It’s so amazing that I’m able to, in my little prep kitchen, write a recipe and then share my methods and food philosophy across the world. But then in a more literal sense, I share food with my family, we always sit down together for dinner, the four of us. Also with my friends. When I really started getting into cooking, we would do different parties and events and always seem to be around a meal. And one of my close friends always jokes about the time I was in culinary school and I was trying to make pasta for the first time and I bought a pasta machine and we started in the afternoon. And we did not have pasta to eat until midnight, because it was so much harder than we thought and it took forever and I think by the end of it, we each got like four bytes of pasta. Even though it wasn’t the best meal we ever had, we still joke about that, and that was probably, I don’t know, it was probably 13-14 years ago. One of my other favorite ways of sharing is in my book club. We’ve been meeting for years. And we do actually read the book. And we do actually talk about the book, but it’s also centered around food. It’s usually a brunch and whoever is hosting will make food and, and we’ll all bring something to share. And it’s just an awesome combination of two things that I love is is feeding friends and, you know, reading books, and it’s probably one of my favorite food centered events that I do consistently.
  • I couldn’t agree more. Now, what would you like to share with us about Ends and Stems? Can you maybe explain to our listeners who don’t know what it is? How it works?
  • Ends and Stems is meal planning to reduce household food waste. I came to this because the food waste movement was really gaining steam, something that always made sense to me logically, just as somebody trying to manage a food business. If you purchase food and then throw it away, you are not going to survive as a business. I always knew it on that level. But as I started researching and reading more about the anti food waste movement, I realized that more food is wasted in our homes than in any other single area. Grocery stores get a lot of the blame. People are imagining so much food is wasted in grocery stores. And that is a problem, but almost twice as much as food is wasted once we buy it and bring it home. And that just seems like a ridiculous problem, especially when you consider that there are millions of people and kids that don’t have enough food to eat. Also the money that we’re wasting and food in our landfills is one of the largest drivers of greenhouse gases affecting climate change. So putting all those pieces together and having cooked for people in their own homes for so many years, I realized that I might just be the perfect person to help people change these habits. I interviewed almost 1000 different families to find out if they cared, if they had heard of this and how I could help them. And it turned out that 83% of them said their biggest culinary struggle at home, was actually deciding what to cook. So it wasn’t the act of cooking. It wasn’t feeling uncomfortable in the kitchen, it wasn’t doing the dishes or going grocery shopping. It was just this piece of planning that they didn’t feel like they had time to do. And they certainly didn’t feel like they had the knowledge of reducing food waste or maximizing what they buy at the grocery store. I thought: I know about all these things, and I can put together meal plans that maximize what to buy. So you’re spending less time writing a grocery list, you’re spending less time shopping because you’re buying fewer things, you’re saving money if you follow along. On my meal plans there are three different recipes per week. I’ve written those recipes so that you use up all of the perishables you buy from week to week. So you might have some leftover rice or something that could sit on the shelf for a little while. But if I asked you to buy a bunch of basil for you, curry dish on Monday, I’ll make sure that you’re making a basil pesto on Wednesday so that you’re using everything up. And the idea is that it’s just that planning piece for people. So it’s an inexpensive monthly subscription. It’s $12 a month, or you can buy a year’s worth and it goes down to only $9 a month. So you’ll definitely save more money than you spend to have access to my meal plans and recipes. And the idea is that it’s a really, really low price point, but the value of having a professional chef plan your menus for you and think about them in this professional way where we use everything up and don’t have any waste. Kind of killing two birds with one stone: you save time and your weeknight dinners are less stress.
  • That’s very helpful. And I’m really amazed that 83% of the people think that it’s all about planning, saying that’s their biggest trouble. I mean, that’s pretty amazing. That’s consensus.
  • I definitely expected people to say they just didn’t like cooking or they didn’t like going to the grocery store. The people I interviewed were families and that’s my main target market. People who know they’re going to be cooking at home at least three or four times per week. So you know this piece is is done, the recipes are chosen for you. I have different recipes depending on what your dietary needs are. If you’re a pescaterian or if you like eating steak, I have recipes for both. It’s aimed at targeting different dietary preferences. Never a specific diet, but it’s helpful. So you can fit in with wherever, what, however your family likes to eat.
  • And it’s good to know about substitution because I feel a lot of people, especially in the Bay Area, are wondering, what’s affecting their bodies, like gluten. So if you just want to give it a go and try a different diet for a couple of weeks, then you can can do that as well.
  • Dairy is a big one, even just cow dairy, so I separate things out. Substitutions are also really just another way of feeling confident as you cook, as you learn what you can and can’t substitute and, basically using what you have on hand, rather than being halfway through a recipe and then realize you’re missing an ingredient, most often you don’t have to run to the store to pick that item up, you can use something that you have, which you know. Then is great because you don’t have to leave to go to the store, you’re not buying anything new, and you’re going to be using something you have, so it won’t go to waste. It’s all tied up together. And just thinking about these things in a different way. There are a lot of food waste experts out there. And most of them when they get to the planning portion, or the consumer food waste portion, they simply tell people to meal plan and grocery shop from a list. But as far as I’ve seen, there’s almost no one else that’s giving you the tools to meal plan without asking you to learn the new skill. I wanted to fill that gap. And if you want a meal plan and grocery list, I will do the work for you, all you have to do is is follow along and participate. I’m also building a community around it. If you’re concerned about food waste, but your next door neighbor isn’t it can feel very isolating, you don’t want to be the the extreme person on the block who’s not throwing anything away. By having this community of people across the country across the world, who are all paying attention and saying we’re going to reduce our food waste, we see the positive benefits and the ripple effect that this has. You can feel that you’re not alone. And you get tips from community members. We do that with a Facebook group and have various ways of connecting and sharing stories of trying to reduce food waste.
  • So how can our listeners find you?
  • The website is endsandstems.com. I’m on Instagram @endsandstems. And my facebook group is open to anybody and that’s also EndsandStems. I look at it every day. And we’re answering questions and supporting people as they go. So it’s all pretty much at ends and stems everywhere!
  • Well that’s better and easier for people to find.
  • That’s right.
  • Well, thank you very much, Alison. I’m so happy you were able to give so many tips throughout the interview to all of the families who are listening to us.
  • Thank you so much. It was fun talking to you.
  • Thank you, Allison. Have a great day.
  • You too. Bye