The idea behind Food At Heart had been bubbling up for a while. I’d always enjoyed my previous work. This included a few different industries: music, market research, the public sector and then e-commerce. Things were going quite well, but it just wasn’t giving me the fulfilment I was looking for.
Then, I started to have really bad problems with my digestion. It was really difficult because I really love food! I’ve always cooked from scratch and eaten really well, but for a long time my stomach was upset by anything I ate, even very simple food. I knew it was my body telling me I was not going in the right direction and that I really had to pause. It was a blessing in disguise because it was all these problems that helped lay the foundation of my business.
I realised that I had to rebuild my relationship with food, slowing down the way I was tasting, and rediscovering pleasures from simple ingredients. What amazed me was that, by slowing down, I was suddenly discovering all these extra layers of flavour that I’d never tasted before!
One of my other real pleasures is seeing people getting connected to food and through food. And I love seeing people surprised by food and flavours. That’s why I enjoy chocolate so much because it is one of the most amazing ingredients to bring flavour to life. The fun is also seeing how it matches with other flavours. I love giving people the opportunity to taste chocolate in a way they might not expect. It is really rewarding when people have their own mini revelations with simple things like this!
For me, it is not about being perfect, or prescribing what people should or shouldn’t eat. It’s about enjoying the process of exploring. It’s also about enjoying eating real food being mindful in the way you are eating and choosing things that make you feel genuinely good. That’s why I call my programme “the joy of eating” because this is really at the heart of everything I do. Explore taste and be open about it. Everybody’s palette is different. What you enjoy is not necessarily what I enjoy. So, let’s just celebrate that!
One of the things I’ve learned with running my own business is the importance of patience. Things often take a little longer than you expect – and you can sometimes find yourself questioning what you’re doing.
One of the big challenges in doing something creative is the risk of thinking that because you are doing something you are passionate about and enjoy that you shouldn’t be charging too much. You can end up doing lots of things for free when you’re starting out and it’s a bit uncomfortable while you’re working out what and when to charge.
Working for yourself also strips away lots of the layers you’ve built up when working in a corporate environment. Because you are with yourself a lot, you have to face your weaknesses, your fears and your self-doubts outright. It’s really exposing and revealing! But it is also wonderful. I am probably more me than I ever was before.
I can take the business in the direction that I want to; I can use it to explore things in the way that I couldn’t in the past. I have found a lot more meaning in what I am doing right now. I feel not only the freedom but also that I’m actually making a difference for people. Holding on to that, I think that’s really what keeps me going.
Story of Meredith Whitely.
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