Jenny Engel and Heather Bell own and operate Spork Foods, a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company and are the authors of Spork-Fed and Vegan 101. They offer organic vegan cooking classes, in-home healthy eating consultations, private cooking parties, corporate trainings and demos, team-building cooking classes, and more. You can find them this week at the SEED Food and Wine Festival in Los Angeles. where they’ll be cooking alongside other well-known vegan chefs. (read our interview with SEED speaker Koya Webb here.)
Tell us a bit about your journey to veganism. What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of it?
Our journey began about 20 years ago, so it’s changed a lot throughout the years. People generally tend to leap to think about all they’d be sacrificing if choosing to go vegan, and that is a misunderstood notion. When you embark upon this lifestyle journey you meet so many incredible new people, experience new flavors and foods, and it expands your mind.
How did you decide you to expand your services from catering to building a business offering classes and writing cookbooks?
Teaching classes has always been at the forefront of what we do because we love empowering people in the kitchen. Writing cookbooks seemed a natural fit because we have a wider client base than just Los Angeles and with a book you can reach a worldwide audience. Catering is fun and it’s wonderful to be a part of people’s happy occasions like birthdays, or weddings – so we offer those services on a more limited basis.
You’re sisters, friends, and business partners. Tell us about this partnership and how you approach developing recipes and a business with someone you’re so close to.
To us, being in business with your sister seems like a natural and awesome fit, because we get along and have a deep level of respect for each other. We know not all siblings feel the same way! We definitely each have our roles within the company and divide tasks where each of us shine. Recipe development is more Jenny’s domain, and Heather has the business mind and runs all of our social media. Of course with any small business we both wear many other hats as well, but we love the challenge of diving in and seeing what each day brings.
What message do you hope people take away from your brand?
Our brand Spork Foods is meant to inspire and educate using our authentic voices. And of course we love to show people that veganism is fun and approachable!
So many people are intimidated by veganism; eating out, how to shop, how to cook. We’re lucky to live in Los Angeles where there is a Whole Foods on every corner. What advice do you have for people who don’t have access to these specialty stores and restaurants?
In our most recent book, Vegan101 the whole intro is dedicated to finding easy swaps that are super accessible. We emphasize using beans, grains, and a myriad of vegetables that you can access anywhere. We also love that you can now order nutritional yeast, or other super “vegany” ingredients online, making this lifestyle more accessible. There are also a ton of great vegan products at Walmart, CostCo, Stater Bros. and other grocery chains that you wouldn’t expect, so it’s getting easier.
What’s next for Spork Foods?
We’re very excited about partnering with Follow Your Heart on the release of Rocket Cakes this year. It’s a gluten-free organic ready to squeeze pancake batter that we co- created! And we have some other tricks up our sleeves for future projects that we can’t reveal yet, but we’ll k.i.t.!
What does longevity mean to you?
Longevity really is an aspiration to live your best life because you achieve longevity through healthy living and you need a balance for your body and mind to get there. It’s a great goal to strive for every day.
What do you love most about your body as it is right now?
We’re both new moms and in total awe of how our bodies birthed little humans and then can go back into their previous state, albeit altered a bit. Our bodies are not exactly the same after having kids, but we appreciate them and all of their post baby glory!
Thank you, Heather and Jenny!