About Miyoko Schinner
Miyoko Schinner has been cooking since she decided to go vegetarian at the age of twelve. In the early 1980s, when resources for vegan cuisine were limited, re-creating decadent dishes presented a challenge so she began to teach, do cooking demos at department stores in Japan, and eventually opened a wholesale bakery. She took that vegan bakery concept to San Francisco and then turned it into a full-scale restaurant.
The restaurant eventually morphed into a natural food manufacturing company with national distribution, making everything from meat substitutes – including the UnTurkey – and cookies and pastries for United Airlines. After a number of setbacks and struggles, she decided to leave the food space and spent a period of time working in the corporate world. However, knowing that her true passion was in gourmet vegan food, she returned with a vengeance and eventually started Miyoko’s Kitchen, which is known as the “creamery of the future.”
Miyoko wrote the book on how to make vegan gourmet cheese (literally) as well as three other cookbooks.
Why You Should Listen
Being an entrepreneur in the food world is hardly a simple task, something that Miyoko Schinner knows firsthand. She is widely credited with pioneering the gourmet vegan cheese space but reaching the success she has achieved today involved countless ups and downs and a whole lot of failures. In this interview, Miyoko shares the stories of her past businesses and how their failures prepared her for the company she runs today. When it comes to things that could go wrong, Miyoko has probably seen it all – from not being able to fill orders due to production limitations to struggles with the worse possible investors, but nevertheless, her passion for creating gourmet vegan food helped guide her way.
In this high-energy conversation, Miyoko shares her stance on using the term vegan for her products and proclaims why companies need to be fearless in their beliefs in order to rise above the noise in today’s marketplace. She also shares insider tips about how to avoid the pitfalls she found herself in as a young food entrepreneur and the most important things that new businesses have to keep in mind in order to succeed.
To Miyoko, building a thriving vegan business is about showing people that they have the power to make choices that can benefit the environment, animals, and their own health – every single day – without having to compromise on taste or excitement. Eating is also a form of activism and Miyoko is blazing a trail for the future of food, built on a celebration of what it means to be vegan.
People/Companies/Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Miyoko’s Kitchen
- Artisan Vegan Cheese, by Miyoko Schinner
- Seth Tibbott, Tofurky
- Billy Bramblett, Hodo Soy and Wildwood
- Biz Stone
- Obvious Ventures
- Tyson invests in Beyond Meat
- Danone acquires WhiteWave
- Otsuka acquires Daiya
- Ben & Jerry’s