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Meet The Co-Founder of Chiyo
What are your own daily wellness non-negotiables?
I love organic dark roast coffee. Depending upon the day, my husband makes it or I do but for us - it is our ritual. We brew it with our Moccamaster which is probably the best coffee maker I've ever owned. I do love a french press also! Whenever we travel, we also love to bring coffee home - it is our thing.
Running your own business, especially a fresh food business, can be a 24/7 job. What are some ways that you make time for yourself? Do you have a favorite ritual or meal time?
Add being a mother of 2 boys! It is always 24/7 from business to motherhood - it truly is a wild ride but I wouldn't want it any other way. I wake up before everyone else to get some quiet moments to myself. It can be sometime between 5-6AM or earlier depending upon what time I went to bed (which is also usually between 8-9PM). I cuddle with our dog Ellie, a very quick 15 minute yoga session (I'm a also a trained yoga teacher with additional training in pre/postnatal yoga), have my coffee, review work for the day and check my calendar. When my oldest is at school, the baby still naps so I can typically have lunch to myself which is such a treat !!! I think my go to lunch will be Chiyo, if its in the fridge (obsessed with our soups!) or I'll make rice, kimchi + protein with a sprinkle of Chiyo Gomasio salt.
Tell us about your ideal breakfast.
I love a hearty farmers type breakfast - especially as I'm still breastfeeding - its important for me to have a lot of great nutrition and calories at the start of my day. I love a delicious avocado, grass fed sausage (we subscribe to this amazing local CSA -Holmgoods), roasted potatoes, sauteed spinach, Bread Alone Sourdough with grass fed butter and soft scramble cage free eggs. Of course, some hot sauce (Tapatio!) or salsa verde but I love any good hot sauce.
What are some tips you would give someone who is trying to learn their way around a kitchen?
Get a good knife! I think having the right tools is the first thing to help you execute really simple delicious meals at home. Also, experiment - its never going to be perfect the first time but trying new things can be fun! I love to get new cookbooks from the library for inspiration or even walk into a store or farmers market to grab something I've never seen before, find a recipe and try it! Its an easy way to incorporate seasonal fruits and veggies into your routine if you feel like you're in a rut.
What are the kitchen staples that you would suggest to others?
A knife! cutting board. Good salt, A pepper grinder and peppercorns, Butter, Chili Flakes, Fresh Herbs (Basil, Rosemary, Parsley), Lemon, Garlic + Onions. Also, a microplane!
Food As Medicine at Chiyo
Can you share the inspiration behind starting Chiyo? What motivated you to create this brand?
A lot of the food philosophy was adopted from my own private postpartum chef practice but when Irene (our CEO/my cofounder) started to concept what Chiyo would become, we agreed on some very core principles including gluten free, dairy free, local and organic whenever possible and seasonal. We like to say that every ingredient has a purpose so you won't see any unnecessary ingredients or fillers. But you will see natural sugars, salts and functional ingredients like kombu which we use in our broth and to cook our beans. (*Kombu helps break down indigestible sugars make it easier to digest, eliminate gassiness and a natural salt enhancer)
How did you become interested in cooking, and how do you bring your nutrition and food philosophy to life at Chiyo?
I have always loved cooking - my parents were always really adventurous eaters. I remember eating sushi at a very young age, or Korean food and kebabs at this really delicious Persian restaurant. I think a lot of the food philosophy stems from my upbringing but also my nutrition training. We infuse every bite with nutrition, especially for the needs of boosted fertility with egg and sperm quality, supporting throughout pregnancy and foundational needs through the postpartum period and beyond. My philosophy is integrative while still utilizing the latest research which focuses on the whole person. I look at nutrition of course but also how every single aspect of one's life can play a part in the bigger picture. One can eat really "well" - but if they're stressed, not sleeping or eating enough - that cycle can interfere with various hormones which if they're in this particular life stage can be the opposite of wellness.
How do you think about menu engineering at Chiyo in order to expand maternal care by integrating Eastern food therapy with Western nutrition?
There is so much work that goes into the curation of our meals, snacks, broths + tonics. We take a lot of pride in our curation as we focus on so many core tenets like I mentioned earlier. Our approach focuses on addressing symptoms, a solution for a specific stage and then how do we also infuse key nutrition into that dish while also incorporating core Traditional Chinese Medicine principles. Take our Miso Minestrone, traditionally a very delicious seasonal spring soup. The base is our vegan broth which consists of tamari, kombu, shiitake mushrooms then we add miso paste along with chickpeas for protein, spinach for folate and fiber. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, miso helps tonify the blood and detoxify. While shiitake mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin D and in TCM is a great ingredient to tonify 'Qi' and blood. Qi in TCM is your vital force or maternal energy.
If you could only choose one Chiyo menu item to eat every day, which would it be?
That is a really hard question !!! I think our Golden Needle Soup or Mung Bean Sinigang but also can't leave out our Kale Seaweed Furikake Popcorn!
As a co-founder, what has been the most rewarding aspect of creating Chiyo? Are there any memorable moments or experiences that stand out to you?
There are so many amazing moments but also many very difficult ones as well. Obviously what is posted on social media are all the fun things along with achievements. I think the hardest job of being a founder is all the really difficult decisions you'll make in a day. I want to highlight that it isn't easy. But I do really love being able to guide the team to goals, encourage, challenge, learn and achieve is probably one of my favorite parts of Chiyo. We have an amazing team that we really lean on, who are so passionate about what we do, so we are really lucky to have them.
I think my most memorable moment honestly was still in the very early days, when we still didn't know what Chiyo could be. Our inclusion in the NY Times postpartum piece was an amazing moment. I literally cried when I received the message from Irene, because it had been such a culmination of blood, sweat and tears. We were fresh from our pilot, still didn't have a team, it was still just Irene and I. To receive that bit of validation that we were on the right path was huge for us.
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