Before motherhood, French Culinary Institute graduate Nicole Chaszar was most inspired by delicate ingredients and exciting presentation, like turning a unique Hungarian chicken dish into vegetarian cuisine. But children change everything, and her focus has shifted from creating exquisite delicacies to forming a compelling experience around food.
Nicole, 32, is now a mother of two boys and a successful founder and CEO who strives to bring healthy, comforting food straight to your door.
She created Splendid Spoon, a company that sells and ships a variety of plant-based soups, based on that simple idea. “I felt like there needed to be a much easier way to have fresh, whole, pure ingredients in convenience food. And soup is a really amazing food to work with because not only does it give you a lot of vegetables, it keeps you fuller longer so the portion control is sort of innate,” she said.
Not only is it a healthy, filling food, it’s also convenient for on-the-go, driven women. “I think as most women can relate to, as you grow and get excited about the world around you, you continue to pile more on your plate and say yes to a lot more, because there are really wonderful things to explore about yourself and what you want to do,” Nicole said. “But it makes it really hard to do everything really well and one of the things that frustrated me most was eating healthy.”
Splendid Spoon can help you maintain a healthy diet with their simple weekly plan, delivered straight to your door. The plan includes a one-day soup cleanse that allows you to focus on centering your eating habits and getting in touch with your hunger cues. Following the cleanse is a 5-day soup swap in which you replace one meal each day with a healthy soup. The final day is no rules!
Committing to the weekly plan or 5-day soup swap takes the guesswork out of eating healthy and is a simple, attainable way to develop a smart relationship with food. “We have customers who are like, ‘I want to do 5 days of the cleanse. I’m gonna work out every day!’ I’m like, “Woah, please don’t do that,” Nicole said. “I really am a proponent of having a peaceful, even-paced relationship with food and that was the intention behind the 7-day plan.”
The convenience Splendid Spoon provides is perfect for the on-the-go mom, and that’s why the products are sold only on the company’s website and online at FreshDirect, as well as two smaller 15-minute delivery services in New York City. “It’s confusing to walk into the grocery store being hit with all these different marketing messages all at once and just trying to make sense of it when you have like one baby crying and the other is like running and opening a box of Teddy Grahams, you know?,” Nicole said. “So the online shopping experience… it’s a little more like you own that experience, and you can decide and spend a little more time choosing what you think is best for you and your family.”
So how does Nicole get it all done? She says it’s simply by embracing the simple things, soup included. “This easy, convenience, quick meal has really saved people. And it saves me every single day.”
She runs a business and loves her job, but to Nicole, spending time with her kids is just as important. Her secret is in being flexible about the way each day is structured, then committing to that structure so she has time for her boys.
Another wise word of advice from Nicole is to find and use your "crew." “There’s no way to do it all; it’s all about who your crew is in life who keeps the boat moving, shouts motivation at you, and picks up the slack when you’re feeling tired because you’d do the same for them in different ways, too,” she said. “It’s one of the beautiful things about being a woman; the sisterhood element is very true.”
It helps, too, that Nicole can use the time she spends with her children as motivation for new recipes. “I’ll go to the farmers’ market with my toddler and he’ll gravitate toward things and he certainly has opinions about what he decides he will like and what he thinks he doesn’t like,” she said. “We’ll go to a stand and he gets to pick out whatever he wants, I mean it’s all vegetables, it’s not like there is anything that’s off limits there, and that’s a really fun part for me,” she said.
Nicole says that finding ways to involve your little ones can make the process of cooking more fun and interesting for the whole family. “[My toddler] can break the lentils and put them in a bowl and I give him — we call it the baby knife, like a teeny tiny little rounded butter knife — so he can chop herbs while I chop bigger vegetables,” she said.
Getting her son involved in cooking at home also helps him explore foods without hesitation. “Eggplant is a good example; he’ll be like, ‘I don’t like eggplant,’ and then he’ll help me put salt on it so the bitter juices come out and he can rinse it and make a ratatouille. Then he’ll love the ratatouille because he helped make it,” Nicole said. “So I think about the experience of cooking more than the ingredients sometimes, which is really new for me.”
Looking to the future
This August, Nicole’s first cookbook, Soup Cleanse Cookbook: Embrace a Better Body and Discover a Healthier You with the Weekly Soup Plan, will be released. It will include over 75 soup recipes, including some Splendid Spoon favorites. “I love sharing recipes,” she said. “Even if someone knows how to make the lentil kale soup, they’ll still order it, too, because just like me, I can’t always cook for myself.”
Her hope is to get people cooking and get them more connected to the cooking process itself, especially people with children. “Not only is it a really great distraction or activity for [kids], but they have a deeper appreciation for food and in the process, you’re making something that everyone gets to make in the end,” Nicole said. “I just love that.”
The future looks bright for Splendid Spoon, too, as Nicole and her team are making plans to expand the business beyond their soup staples. They’ve started experimenting with all different plant-based foods that’ll still keep customers satisfied and are just as easy and delicious.