Lessons learned through tough decisions with Haven’s Kitchen Founder, Alison Cayne

Updated: Aug 25

Joining me on the show today is Alison Cayne, the founder of New York based biz Haven’s Kitchen.

Originally a cooking school that started out in 2012, Haven’s Kitchen is now helping cooks of all kinds in the kitchen with their ridiculously yummy looking, vibrant squeeze sauces.

I highly recommend jumping on the website to get a taste for what these delicious pouches look like. As soon as you see them I can guarantee you’ll want them in your life! I’m keeping faith that they’ll make their way to a wholefoods in London someday soon.

In this episode we’re covering Ali’s 8 year journey and so many lessons she’s learned along the way including the major moment she realised she would have to close down the best performing side of the business earlier this year due to the pandemic.

Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!

Alison: Well, I try I'm not very good at the elevator pitch because it's like a long winded introduction. But taking my name's Alison Cayne. I have a company called Haven's Kitchen.

We are


Brand. Our first product

Line is a line of fresh squeezed sauces and pouches, their cooking sauces, simmering sauces, marinades. They kind of evolved out of my first business, which was a cooking school in

Manhattan in Chelsea,

Which I just closed because of the pandemic, but that I opened in twenty twelve. So we like to think of ourselves as


Best friend in the

Kitchen and we

Kind of do that through classes, our cookbook and now this product

Line. I love that.

The best friend in the kitchen. That's so nice. Yeah. I want to set the scene and go way back to when you were just getting started pre twenty twelve. What was happening in your life that kind of led to the light bulb moment of you wanting to get into this space of cooking, of bringing people together, of community. You want to hear all about it?

Well, I got

Married at twenty three and had five children in eight years,

So I had

My own community at home and I was cooking a lot and I was always really into cooking and always really into

Food, always hosting

People. I started teaching cooking in college just to friends and friends of friends

Because people didn't

Know how to

Make soup

Or roast chicken.

And it was

Always, for me, just this really comfortable, happy place where I felt creative and I felt

Empowered and I

Felt like I had, I don't know, freedom. And a lot of people had this sort of like opposite feeling about the kitchen.

When my youngest

Son was going into nursery school, I decided to go back to get a master's

Degree in a program

At NYU that's focused on food sustainability, food justice, food policy and sort of food systems and the history of trade routes and religion and food and gender and food and race and ethnicity and food. Really fascinating


But as a part of that, I had a requirement to get

An internship, which was sort of

Funny because I had five kids


10, I think, at that time. And I just was kind of

Like, is this a joke?

Like, who's going to hire me? I haven't had

A real job right.

Since I was twenty four.

But anyway, I

Ended up getting the job as the head of the education station at the Union Square

Greenmarket. So my

Job was basically giving school tours to everyone from three year olds to 18 year

Olds, all about

Farm labor practices, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, how their food

Choices really do impact not only

Their personal

Health and their community

Health, but really the

Larger good. And what started

Happening was the people that I was teaching cooking started wanting to go on market tours and the people that I was giving market tours to. The grown ups who are with those kids on the tours, started asking me for

Recipes because they

Understood that they needed to start buying locally and understood that, like shopping at the market was good for the local economy and for the environment. But they didn't know what to

Do with a yam. Right. So I thought, hmm, there's something here.

And like in many places around the world, there are super cooking schools that aren't culinary professional schools. They're just you visit, you go to the market, you learn how to make the regional cuisine. You have a fun day of it. You drink a bottle of wine. And that really didn't exist in New York. So I opened Haven's kitchen in 2012 and it was just

This this

Idea to connect people with the joy

Of eating well

And cooking and taking the fear and