STORIES

Nothing Fancy

Kiki with her father and sister in the kitchen — someone was not too happy that day.

I’m really good at throwing shit in a bowl. I’m not really a cook and I’m far from a chef, but I can definitely assemble a tasty looking bowl. I grew up vegetarian and in my parents household that usually meant pasta, salad, or some type of casserole for dinner. Nothing fancy. My mom wasn’t too keen on cooking, but my dad didn’t hop on the veggie train with the rest of the family and cooked for himself. He’s someone who’s a lot more experimental in the kitchen and really likes to cook.

And that’s not all he was good at. From the time I was a child I had an entrepreneurial spirit ingrained in me from my father. Dad was always hustling and as a family we were constantly thinking of how we could spin a business up out of something we could do ourselves. By the age of 16 my sister and I started our first business. And in college, I made and sold cutesy headpieces around campus. I would set up a stand outside of NYU on the weekends and make money for myself from creating something that I truly enjoyed.

“I’m really good at throwing shit in a bowl. I’m not really a cook and I’m far from a chef, but I can definitely assemble a tasty looking bowl. ”

Many years later, at the only real job I’ve ever had, I considered myself the “Internal Entrepreneur.” I worked at the Huffington Post for a little over six years as the Head of Audience Development where I was constantly thinking of new ways to grow the business’s audience and making operations run smoother. This set me up for even greater success as I transitioned into entrepreneur life and launched Toast Media with my husband Dean. While I may do a lot of the heavy lifting within our business, at home I play sous chef. I’m really good at washing dishes and throwing shit together, but I always considered myself lacking in the culinary department.

And as pretty new-ish entrepreneurs, our eating habits have differed. We meal prep a lot more and we always try to bring our lunch to work.

In today’s traditional corporate America culture, lunch breaks are not really a thing. You either eat your pre-made lunch that you brought from home at your desk, while still “working,” or, you run out across the street to grab a $14 salad to bring back to your desk to continue to work while simultaneously trying to stuff your face and type an email. Lunch breaks are kind of a taboo in today’s working culture. Especially at startups. Everyone is working so hard that sometimes you legit don’t have time for a lunch break.

The sad desk lunch is something I’m very familiar with, but I am also a firm believer in taking time from work for lunch. As a full time employee or an entrepreneur, you can sometimes get caught up in whatever you’re doing for work. Whether it’s finishing up a proposal, prepping for a big meeting, putting the finishing touches on a huge RFP. You get so caught up that you forget to take care of yourself. Feeding yourself is like a form of self care, especially in terms of cooking for yourself throughout the week. You’re showing yourself that kind of love every day saying, ‘I prepared this for you.’ That’s special.

And just like work and entrepreneurship, the good thing about food is that you can teach yourself how to do anything, including how to cook for yourself or even assemble. And that’s something that I think, kind of oddly, has helped me gain that confidence where I know I can teach myself anything in a work capacity.

No one’s ever given me a playbook for my role. I just figured it out. I think that confidence has transferred to the kitchen where I have a lot of Pinterest failed meals that happen, but I had the confidence to try it. Where in the past, I would just say to myself, you’re not a pastry chef, don’t even attempt to make that. But now I’m like, I taught myself SEO and email marketing, I can do this. And that’s the beauty behind food and cooking. Even if you fail at it, at least you had the confidence to try; and that skill can translate to any aspect of your life.

Kiki is an entrepreneur and self proclaimed sandwich junkie residing in Brooklyn with her husband Dean, doggy Toast, and newborn bebe Byrdie. Follow her on IG at @kikivonglinow.

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