THIS ENTREPRENEUR’S STUDIES IN DIET THERAPY AND BIOCHEMISTRY RESULTED IN A NOVEL FOOD SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE THAT DELIVERS SOUPS, SMOOTHIES, AND PEACE OF MIND
BY ERIK SCHONING
The explosion of subscription services over the past several years has ushered in a world where everything from razors to coffee to pre-planned dinner to medication can be regularly delivered to your door. Enter Splendid Spoon, a Williamsburg based vegan soup and smoothie service founded by Nicole Centeno, which offers twice a day meals designed to take the headache, and most of the preparation, out of everyday eating. Splendid Spoon’s starter plan takes care of breakfast and lunch every weekday, with the occasional “reset” day designed to give your body a break. In addition to the convenience, all its food is 100% vegan and both GMO and gluten free.
“[It’s about] how can you balance a feeling of selfcare. We’re making this easier for you while [you’re] also making an effort,” Centeno explained when asked about her business’s philosophy. “If you weren’t interested, if you didn’t have the intention, then you would just continue with a life that works for you. But what a lot of people are doing doesn’t work for them.”
Today the company operates out of its Williamsburg headquarters, but Centeno’s story starts in Manhattan. She moved to New York from Boston, after studying diet therapy and biochemistry in college. She spent years working for the media company Condé Nast while also invested in a longtime hobby: cooking. This meant three nights per week at the French Culinary Institute, where she would often be in the kitchen until midnight.
“It was hard,” Centeno said. “But I loved it so much. I was willing to be uncomfortable, because I knew it was so fulfilling.”
As a test bed of sorts, she sold pastries and side dishes to friends and coworkers, and eventually was accepted to sell food at Smorgasburg, which at that time was in its earliest stages.
“I was getting up at 4 a.m. before my day job, going to a kitchen in Green point, cooking the food, and then selling it on the weekend,” Centeno said.
These various food projects didn’t coalesce until Centeno got married and became pregnant. The dietary challenges of the experience made her think seriously about what she was putting in her body.
“I started Googling pre natal care and how to take care of yourself as a woman,” she said “You get a million articles, and they’re all conflicting information, and very complicated. It’s noisy. I leaned on my background in science to shut the laptop and ask what’s practically good for me, and what’s practical for my life.”
Centeno began making soups and smoothies for herself, and realized that this combination of smart dieting and lifestyle management was exactly where her professional endeavors should be heading.
The transformation from market stall to internet subscription service is a seismic one for any company to undertake, with a myriad of variables to consider, from design to delivery. The hardest thing, according to Centeno, was letting go of control. During early Splendid Spoon days she would handle almost everything herself, carrying heavy equipment and spending “endless” hours in the kitchen, even when she was pregnant much to the chagrin of her doctors. Today, though, her company is a full scale operation, and Centeno has had to cede control over many of its aspects. True to her roots in media, she now spends most of her time handling marketing, branding, and PR.
Centeno now lives in Williamsburg, too, and is busy with the two fold responsibilities of running a family and an enterprise. Despite Splendid Spoon’s coast to coast reach (they’ve partnered with Fresh Direct), she considers the business to be quintessentially Brooklyn. All of its food is locally sourced, and it regularly partners with family run businesses in pursuit of products that are, as the company mission statement reads, “Plant based, ready to eat, pre portioned, calorie controlled, and made with only whole ingredients.”
“I started a business [in the borough] because there’s so much opportunity, so many people with diverse interests and curiosity,” said Centeno. “I didn’t feel like I could do that anywhere else.”
Six years in, Splendid Spoon has carved a space for itself as a food service concerned, above all, with wellbeing. There’s no intention of slowing down; the company’s considering expanding into other areas of lifestyle management. And though much has changed since the early days, some things have not. Centeno recently introduced a garden minestrone, a recipe of from her early days. She describes it as meeting an old friend, proving once again that the French were right: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
109 South 5th Street / splendidspoon.com