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!
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.