New York, New York-based entrepreneur Rowena Scherer has always had a passion for cooking. She grew up cooking with her family in Malaysia, where mealtimes were an important daily event. After pursuing a fulfilling career in finance for decades, Scherer took pause before her 50th birthday and realized she wanted to make a shift to pursue something she was really passionate about, and so eat2explore was born. Eat2explore are meal kit boxes designed for kids; each box comes with a recipe from a different part of the world and instructions for how the whole family can come together to make it together. Scherer hopes her expanding business will continue to inspire kids and their families to explore what she calls ‘The Three C’s’: country, culture and cuisine.
Scherer’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
Eat2explore is a food & culture explorer box inspiring families to cook, taste and learn different world cuisines and cultures. I started this company to pursue my true passion of cooking, traveling and educating kids. When I turned 48, I did some soul searching knowing that in 2 years I would turn 50. I was determined then to leave my long time career in finance to build a company that I hoped would help bond families together through food and culture. Eat2explore now hires people from all over the world (our graphic designer is from Malaysia, our web programmer from Bangladesh, our social media manager from Florida, our head of operations in Tuxedo Park, our fulfillment associate in Southern Bronx, etc) and we all communicate through WhatsAp, Skype and text. Because I am older and hopefully wiser, I am confident enough to ask for help when needed and lead by example. All my team members believe in our mission and vision.
We want families to explore the 3Cs – country, culture and cuisine – from the comfort of their own kitchen. Each box focuses on one country and it comes with three recipes, spice and sauce mixes, a shopping list for fresh ingredients, country brochure, activity sheet, passport, country sticker, flag pin and fun cooking tool.
I want to help the next generations in developing cooking skills and a love of learning about different cultures of the world. I also want kids to expand their palate to world cuisines – why wait until you are an adult to appreciate what the world can offer!
I started eat2explore for my children… During a family cooking class in Spring 2016, I discovered that although my kids (then 9 and 12) love to travel and try different cuisines, they couldn’t even chop an onion! I grew up cooking with my family back in Malaysia and those are some of my fondest memories. However, being a working mom juggling my kids’ busy schedules and still making sure dinner was on the table after work, I forgot the joy of taking a break and having fun cooking together as a family. I realized that there must be many more parents out there just like me – people who are missing this opportunity to create lasting memories at home. I think meal time should be an experience and cooking is a life-skill everyone should have! Since home economics is no longer part of the curriculum at school, hands-on cooking and culture explorations is even more important in today’s world.
For me success is when your customers say you have a great product and their families are enjoying themselves. Success is also when your employee said they are so happy working for you. Some big success for eat2explore include being written up in The New York Times in December 2018 and EatingWell in the May/June 2019 issue. We’ve also been featured in a number of children’s blogs. My top challenge has been that our sales are not enough to cover all our expenses and I have to continue spending money on the marketing of our product and on personnel to help grow the business. We just finished raising some “friends and family” financing.
My most important role model is my mother – at 81, she is constantly looking for ways to motivate and improve herself while thinking of ways to depart her knowledge and experience to help others.