I met Eden of “The Road to the Good Life” during an Alt chat held every Wednesday. She’s got great wisdom and clearly throws amazing cooking classes. Her blog is Godsend, as it focuses on finding the good and simple things in your life, which I forget to do sometimes. Read her inspiring interview below for more insight. It’s a great read!
Name of your business? Who is the mastermind behind your business?
The name of my business is The Road to The Good Life and I’m the mastermind behind it.
How did you start your company?
The idea for The Road to The Good Life came when I was driving cross-country, with two years worth of belongings crammed in my RAV4, heading home after I completed my MBA from Michigan State. A classmate had mentioned how fearless she thought I was driving solo back and forth across the US, first from Michigan to San Diego by way of Texas for an internship. I hadn’t really thought about what I had done; I like driving. I started writing as a way for me to be more mindful of what makes the seemingly ordinary extraordinary. In 2006, I was laid off and started questioning the idea of traditional career paths. Up until then, I’d been chasing other people’s ideas of The Good Life and realized then that I needed to stop and to start appreciating and enhancing my life by being grateful for the ‘haves” instead of lingering on the “wants.”
What made you open a Cooking School and Supper Club business?
I love bringing people together to share a meal whether in my own home or more atypical places. I brought to life a three-star Michelin restaurant, Blanchisserie Americain, modeled after The French Laundry, in the back of a box truck at The First Lost Horizon Night Market in San Francisco and I set up and recruited the staff to run a kitchen that served 60 artists at Burning Man. So after countless friends, who’d eaten my food, kept telling me to open a restaurant I decided to listen.
What’s one (of many) things do you want to accomplish (business or career and personal)?
I believe in a world where everyone has access to quality food ingredients to serve convenient meals that create opportunities for parents to connect with their kids and for friends, acquaintances, and strangers to bond. With The Road to The Good Life cooking club, I’m creating the world I want to live in—a world where everyone feels welcome and no one walks away hungry or feeling ostracized. As someone with dietary restrictions, I’m especially sensitive to having gone hungry as a kid because I couldn’t eat anything at a party or at a family holiday dinner I’d been invited to. There’s nothing like being different to make one feel less celebratory or grateful for what you have. And that’s why I love Thai food; in Thai culture no one leaves a meal feeling like an outsider, hosts go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome, including modifying the meal to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions/allergies. I learned to cook Thai food when I worked with a chef on his branding and cookbook. Since then I’ve taught Thai cooking classes first with him and then solo for over fifteen years. I’m excited to be teaching once again and introducing more people to Thai cuisine.
What’s one mistake you’ve learned from?
Giving into my fears. Building a business is tough work, and creating one from your passions is even tougher because it’s so personal. People say if you’re doing what you love it’s not work. That’s not true. I’d bought into the belief that your path to a successful venture will be easier and clearer if you’re doing what you love and leveraging your strengths. Pursuing your passion isn’t easier and having to work hard at it doesn’t mean you’re not going to succeed. My mistake was thinking that I was failing and not giving myself a chance. When fears surface now, I seek out the support of my husband. You don’t have to pursue your passion solo for the pursuit to be authentic.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten (business or personal)?
The best advice I’ve gotten is from a fellow food entrepreneur, Iso Rabins of Forage SF: Focus and price your product so that you can live. He says, “if you’re passionate about something, you should be able to make a living doing it.” He’s seen many people work a day job so that they can fund their passions, for example, people throw amazing dinners that are talked about for years. They love creating and bringing people together, but they don’t charge for it as if doing so tarnishes or devalues their passion. It felt like he was talking about me six months ago. And for me, that’s not a sustainable or fulfilling life. I don’t want my passion to be my hobby; I want my passion to be my business.
What’s one food you can eat for the rest of your life?
I never get tired of Tom Yum Gai soup, but it’s got to be my soup. Most of the soups you’ll find in Thai restaurants are too sweet, I like the flavor of my soup more nuanced with sweetness coming from in season heirloom tomatoes or Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweet onions rather than palm sugar.
You have to choose: living forever in sub-zero degree temperatures or blistering hot conditions (proper attire included).
I’ve lived in Michigan and in Texas so have gotten to experience both extremes first hand. I’d choose sub-zero degree temperatures because cold brings people together. I love feeding people and swapping stories over shared meals, and cold weather is just more conducive to that.
Routine you have to complete every day/week (the more embarrassing the better)
I’m very OCD. Before I can settle into my day, I have to have a clear, clean counter space and a cup of French pressed coffee. Because mornings are my most productive, I’ll grind coffee beans the night before, fill up the tea kettle, and run the dishwasher the night before. When the water is heating up in the morning, I’ll put away the clean dishes. I love starting off with a clean workspace. On days when I skip this and just dive into work, I often find myself overwhelmed with my to do list and have to stop and clean the kitchen.
Current song you’re listening to?
This is a hard one for me as there are so many. I’ve found that I’m more productive when I have background music with positive messages. I have an iTunes playlist, “Make IT Happen,” that I listen to on repeat with about ten upbeat songs to keep me motivated throughout the day. In the morning, my anthems are Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding and Best Day of My Life by American Authors. And in the mid-afternoon, my pick-me-up tunes when my energy starts to flag are You Belong Here by Leagues and Let’s Go by Calvin Harris. The playlist just makes me want to dance; you’ll often find me when I’m working through an idea of jumping up and dancing around our living room or kitchen.