The Creation Story: "Mind of Chef Mom”
When I became pregnant in 2017, I sought and received a lot of advice, but the phrase I heard most was this: “Travel will never be the same.”
Dads who newly identified as sherpas who lugged everything from strollers to car seats, and moms bemoaned the challenge of packing, yet brilliantly engineered enough luggage space to make room for diapers, clothes, and baby food. One girlfriend offered photographic evidence: for her two babies on a 4-day trip, her luggage carried 12 squeeze pouches, 8 jars of purees, bags of snacks, canisters of formula, a breast pump, and bottles. And this was just the food.
I was horrified. I wondered what would happen once I had Ava. What if I needed to be on the road for a week? Or even longer? How would I pack for that? Could I? Some may ask “can’t you just buy baby food when you get there?” But as a parent, I worry. I worry I can’t find the right food in a new or unfamiliar place, and that my baby won’t eat. As parents, we are overridden with guilt about every micro-decision we could have made differently. What if I don’t pack everything my baby might need? What if I introduce new food to my baby while on a trip and my baby gets sick?
Fast forward to the last week of my pregnancy: I was watching David Chang on “Mind of a Chef.” Chang was crafting ramen broth—suddenly, it occurred to me: a Michelin-awarded chef was making his famous ramen broth using instant, freeze dried powder. This process yielded flavor perfectly: the glowing reception of fellow chefs, customers, and food critics across the world was a testament to this. There was zero reduction to the quality of nutrition.
Research on nutrition and health, technology in the food industry, and attention to ingredients and flavor have all been available to adults for decades - but baby food has never had the same treatment or priority. It’s time our standards for baby food caught up: and here Bon Petit was born.
I set out to make the highest quality instant baby food available. Not only would Bon Petit save time, but it would make nutrition the primary focus. No more all-fruit pouches that lead to children experiencing sugar cravings and crashes. I would create an option that contains protein, complex carbs, fiber, and more. And the final touch: the lightness and portability of freeze-dried powder. With Bon Petit, you can bring along 50 baby meals weighing at most 1 lb, and rest easy knowing they contain all the nutrition your baby needs, and not put even a dent in your luggage space. Will I fill that space now with backup board books and teething rings, or my swimsuit? Well, that’s a battle for another day.
A Lineage of Creativity: Mind of a Chef Dad
When my father had me, he was running House of Nanking, a highly successful restaurant in San Francisco, as the head chef and owner. Time was something he had very little of as the restaurant was notorious for being open for 363 days a year. When he was gifted the task of taking me to school in the mornings, he had to be efficient to get us out the door as quick as possible while also giving me an extra 20 minutes to sleep, because I was not (and still not), a morning person. Essentially, this meant no time for a sit-down breakfast for my father. Nonetheless, nutrition came first. Eggs were the natural choice, but I preferred runny yolks, which posed a challenge.
The other Chef Fang - Peter Fang - figured out in 1990 that he could soft boil an egg, poke a large hole in it, and stick in a straw. No need to peel the egg, and no mess to clean up. So, if you saw me in 3rd grade on a Tuesday morning, you would’ve caught me in San Francisco with my dad running to the N train, egg in hand with a straw peeking out from the top.
My father sought a solution that didn’t sacrifice the joys of eating. This is the beauty of having a parent who, as a chef, who respected me even as a child and understood that eating even on-the-go, even on a routine, is and should still be a culinary experience beyond just an intake of nutrients. My father never devalued what or how I wanted to eat.