A chat Rachel and Andy, the inspiring founders behind Amy’s Kitchen.
Tell us how Amy’s Kitchen came about?
Rachel: In 1987, I was pregnant with Amy and on bedrest. I sent Andy to the grocery store to find some ready-made meals. He brought back a lasagna that wasn’t very good. Realizing that he couldn’t find anything organic and vegetarian that actually tasted good, we had an “ah-ha” moment. We started with a vegetarian Pot Pie and now, 30 years later we have over 200 meals to suit every taste and dietary need.
It’s had such a rich history as a brand – how has it maintained it’s authenticity?
Andy: As a family owned company, we focus on the product and the taste. We’re not in the business of making shareholders happy. In fact, we don’t have shareholders. We’re in the business of cooking delicious, organic vegetarian meals for everyone.
Who’s behind it all?
Rachel: We are still deeply involved and connected to the company. We have daily product tastings and are constantly dreaming up new meals. Amy and her husband Jace are also very involved with the company and are very much interested in sustainability and employee health and wellness.
How big is the team now?
Andy: Amy’s Kitchen has grown beyond our wildest dreams. We may have started with a few family members pitching in anywhere they can, but now we are a worldwide company with thousands of employees, farmers and suppliers. But no matter how big the company grows, we still like to think that everyone who works for us is part of the family.
Tell us what Amy’s is all about. What is the company ethos?
Rachel: We want to make is easy and enjoyable for everyone to eat well. I like to think that of our customers as guests that we’ve invited in to our home. If you look at the packaging you’ll see items that are meaningful to me. Flowers from my garden, beautiful plates and napkins all find their way on to the packaging. It is our hope that the care we put in to every dish is apparent with every bite.
Tell us about your brand’s creative process. How do things get made from start to finish?
Rachel: Inspiration for a new meal can come from anywhere. Maybe we had a great meal at a friend’s house, or something unique at a restaurant. We ask for the recipe and then we make food just like you do at home. Once we create the dish on a small scale, we set to work on the difficult task of making that dish on a large scale.
Where are the ingredients sourced from and how important is this?
Andy: This is really important to us! We were organic before there was a national certification. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to create standards for organic, they looked to us for guidance. Together with other industry leaders, we helped pioneer the organic food industry and, more importantly, we helped make organic food available to more people. We source non-GMO ingredients and we are a proud supporter of GMO labeling initiatives. Our commitment to organic ensures that farmers aren’t exposed to harmful chemicals and pesticides. We have long term relationships with our farmers so they understand our desire for the highest quality ingredients. They also understand how concerned we are with their employee’s welfare. This is something we’re proud of. We like to say that we don’t manufacture food, we cook it with love. And we believe that if we care about everything we do and everyone we cook for, then you’ll be able to taste the love.
What’s the most satisfying thing about being a part of the business?
Rachel: I love hearing from our fans from all over the world. Whether it is reading the letters we get from fans or meeting fans in person when we travel, I love to know that we are making life a little easier for people.
Some people scoff at canned soup. What do you have to say to change their mind?
Andy: We make all of our soup from scratch. We make them in stock pots just like you do at home…only the pots are really big! All our soups, chillis and beans are packed in non-BPA-lined cans, keeping our food safe and still preserving its flavor and freshness. Those folks won’t scoff after they try it.
What have been some of the brands biggest challenges?
Andy: Our food is very expensive to make. And because we want to make it easy for everyone to enjoy our food, it doesn’t leave a lot of money left for marketing. Therefore, word of mouth tends to be the way that most people find out about us.
What has been most surprising about Amy’s growth?
Rachel: It is very gratifying to see how many people there are who enjoy our meals who may not have any interest in vegetarian or organics. They just like food that tastes good!