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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


A CPG


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


Your


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


Program.


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


An internship, which was sort of


Funny because I had five kids


Under


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