Jessica Young is the founder of Bubble, an online store with a corner-bodega-meets-Erewhon-Market curation of yummy foods. She sat down with Lauren to talk about her history as a chef. As we all know, beauty begins in the gut and we love talking to our foodie friends. Lauren knows Jessica from back when she worked as a chef in the restaurants of NYC.
Lauren: Tell me a little bit about your culinary background?
Jessica Young: I moved to New York eight years ago to go to cooking school. It started as a semester off from college and I never looked back. I fell in love with food and cooking and felt like I needed to be in that world. It was not a conscious decision for me to professionally get into food at all. I just followed my heart and it felt right. I worked my way up in different fine dining kitchens in NYC, even hosting a vegan pop-up restaurant here in NYC, which is how we (Lauren and Jessica) really got to know each other, before crossing over to start-ups.
Inside Jessica's fridge.
LW: What restaurants did you work in?
I worked at a restaurant called Ilili, which is still around, Commerce, which is no longer around, The Modern (dining room). I used to private chef every summer in the Hamptons and random events for Upper East Siders to make extra coin for rent. I was on the opening team at Hu Kitchen, which led me to really get into the health and wellness startup movement, which was just popping off at the time in NYC. I started paying attention to that. I felt that same magnetic pull again with the startup scene as I did when cooking. I was like 'Ooh I don't know what this is but I need to learn it and be involved and get in on this.' I just knew it was the thing to do. I got a job with a new meal kit company called Ritual as their head of operations. With no college degree, but a lot of confidence, I landed the job and taught myself everything I could about startups. I built team of 20 that ran between recipe development, creation, and photography to production and delivery logistics. I always say this, but it’s so funny to me ---- I didn't know what a 'Series' anything was. I thought it was a baseball term when people were talking about Series A. From there, I was introduced to a woman named Rachel, who was starting a smoothie pack company called Daily Harvest, and had a big vision for how she wanted to take over the freezer. I completely aligned with what her vision was, and decided that this was the company that would lead me to my future. Over the next 3 years, Daily Harvest exploded. For the past six months, I joined Lauren here at LAP as a partner, and launched Bubble, a health food marketplace, two weeks ago.
LW: What was your title at HU kitchen?
Executive pastry chef. I did the pastries, their chocolate line, and I also worked on the third party products that we carried. So I got to curate all the paleo goods and we had books and products and that was really fun.
LW: That's so interesting you went from traditional cooking to pastry because they're typically so different.
JY: They are and I was like, "I'm not a pastry chef." I got pulled in because the executive chef I knew from the cooking world. He was like, 'You're the healthiest person I know because you're into all this stuff. You're the only person I know who knows what Chia is in cooking." And I was like 'Yeah, of course,' So he was like 'I can't find anyone to do paleo pastry because it goes against the grain.'
Jessica's desk at Daily Harvest.
LW: Was there ever a time that you had to step in on the other side of things?
JY: Totally. One day before service, there were stacks of cases of kale that hadn’t been chopped. I started freaking out because they didn’t even mention it--- I was like 'Guys, you're late we have service! All this kale has to be chopped.' One of my guys was slicing so slow, he was blazed I think, and I was like 'Move. This is the pace we need to go.' And I did like one case in two minutes. So I said, 'I'm coming back and either this will be done or you will be, so hurry up.”
LW: I really love that story. Also can you tell me what your position was at Daily Harvest?
JY: I was employee #1, head of products.
LW: Do you have any advice for people looking to get into food startup work?
JY: I think there are a lot of great resources. I think people who get involved in food startups think it's glamorous, which it can be. Food is fun, it's community driven, people get it. It's not like some boring tax service company- it's food! There's always a lot of hype around it but there's a lot of work and it is something that should be taken seriously because it's something that goes into someone's body. So I think a lot of people get into food and A) don't take that with the weight that whatever you're putting into the world is actually going into someone's body and you're nourishing someone and so the way that that comes together should be really thought through. I think people who come to food start ups should go into it with thought and intention and really have a purpose for why they're getting into it or a reason and a mission. Not just to do food or not just because they want to have this cool bar as a company. The food world is so amazing with connections, I'm only where I am today because of my network, asking questions and constantly asking for help. You can't do things alone. It's a community driven business and it's also community-pushed. You want a really healthy push-pull and I think the food world offers that. So I would just say ask for help, engage with community, nourish the community.
LW: What are your favorite products that you're using right now for your skin?
JY: Obviously Lauren's All Purpose. I'm really into Konjac sponges. I know everyone has been using that clarisonic machine but the bristles really hurt my skin. And I do get a little bit of dryness that I want to get dead skin cells off, then hydrate or moisturize. I'm honestly pretty minimalist. I don't use that many products. I have more products than I actually use….. I need to just clear my shelf. I love essential oils. I use Aveda essential oils. I like Eucalyptus and Sandalwood. So I'll put them in my bath or in my cleavage so I can smell it then the rest of the day. It holds it really well there!
LW: What about foods? Do you eat anything with your skin in mind? What's your eating philosophy?
JY: I've always been really pro-oil. I know there was a big movement-- I feel like it was very '90s. It was very anti-oil in foods and beauty. Diet coke, oil-free moisturizer, oil-free foods, oil-free everything. And I think then everyone had dry skin, they were getting acne, it was a terrible cycle. I was 20 years-old when I moved to New York City, and I went to this skincare demo at Lyfetime Market. Upstairs the woman was just literally lathering her face with oils and I was like 'Yeah, I think you're right.' Your skin's literally screaming out to be doused in oil, and your body needs that. Your brain, and all of cognitive function thrives off of water and fat. Right away I switched, and have been using straight Vitamin E oil and almond oils since then. Not to brag, but I barely get pimples or dry spots. Today I use a combo of oils and LAPS :)
LW: Nothing makes me happier to hear!! And then do you cleanse your face with anything?
JY: This is bad and bougie, but I was gifted La Mer's face wash and have been using that face wash for like a year now. But before I was using Dr. Perricone's sensitive-- it's in a green glass bottle. Both of them are super light and they don't strip the natural oils from your skin. And then maybe every other day I'll do this Root Science face scrub that's sort of like a clay. It has fennel seeds and stuff in it. It's actually a dry powder and you put it in your hand in the shower and mix it with a little water and scrub that on your face and it's a very mild scrub.