Specialty Food Magazine

Winter 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1061591

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Page 30 of 127

leadership awards T hirty years ago, Miyoko Schinner saw an opportunity to get into a business that could help affect social change. Her personal form of activism was to show consumers that healthy, sustainably produced, vegan food "could be absolutely deli- cious," she says. "Back then, the kind of food I wanted the world to eat was pretty terrible. You had a choice of lentil loaf or lentil burgers. Which one would you like?" The world wasn't ready yet, she realized. "Any time you have to explain why you're doing something in more than an elevator pitch and people don't get it, then the time is not right." In the 1980s, Miyoko had gone to live in Tokyo, making vegan pound cake and delivering it in a backpack all around the city. Digestion problems had prompted her to give up dairy. Heavy cream, butter, and cheese were ingredients she used to love so she wanted a plant-based way to capture that profile. She played with nuts and cashew cream until she got the same sense of satisfaction. "I honestly don't remember how I figured it out," she says. But figure it out she did, leading to opening a restaurant in Tokyo, teaching vegan cooking classes, and writing her first vegan cookbook in Japanese, which she translated into English. In 1989, she moved to the Bay Area, selling vegan cakes she baked at home. Eventually she opened Now and Zen, a small bakery-bistro in San Francisco that morphed into a natural food company making meat substitutes, vegan cinnamon rolls, and chocolate chip cookies. She sold the company in 2003, wrote more vegan cookbooks, taught more classes, and went into real estate. "I made more money than I ever made in food but it had no soul," she says. "My passion was making social change through food." More consumers had come around to her way of thinking, making healthier choices, caring about animal welfare, the negative impact of industrial farming on the planet, asking questions about where their food came from. Her 2012 cookbook, "Artisan Vegan Cheese," became a cult classic and people started asking her why she wasn't starting her own cheese business. Why not? she thought. The Petaluma, Calif.-based Miyoko's Kitchen launched in 2014. Revenue has doubled every year, says Miyoko, 61, who has 96 employees and 19 SKUs. Miyoko's Kitchen is carried nationwide in 6,000 outlets, from natural food stores to Target. Plant-based, fermented butter and mozzarella are her biggest sellers. Flexitarians—not vegetarians or vegans—are the majority of her customers. "My elevator pitch now is 'We're revolutionizing dairy products with plants, making butter and cheese without using any cow's milk,'" she says. "That's usually enough to have people go, 'Oooh, really? Tell me more about it.'" Miyoko Schinner, Miyoko's Kitchen BUSINESS — 1989 Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner sells vegan cakes baked at her home in San Francisco. — 1991 Schinner's first cookbook, "The Now and Zen Epicure," is published. — 1994 Schinner opens Now and Zen, a vegan restaurant in San Francisco. — 2012 "Artisan Vegan Cheese" is published, kicking off the vegan cheese revolution. — 2014 Miyoko's Kitchen is founded in Fairfax, Calif.; 10 cheese wheels enter the market via eCommerce. — 2015 Fresh Vegan Mozzarella is launched on a small scale. — 2016 Miyoko's European- style Cultured Vegan Butter is introduced. — 2017 New 30,000-square- foot facility in Petaluma, Calif. becomes company headquarters; Bon Appetit magazine rates Miyoko's Kitchen French-style Winter Truffle one of the six best vegan cheeses in the country. — 2018 Homestyle Plain Vegan Cream Cheese and Vegan Roadhouse Cheese are released. HIGHLIGHTS 28 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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