Making My Love of Food My Job

mollie chen
5 min readApr 30, 2018

I’ve used this space to share a bit about big life changes — from leaving a company to taking advantage of in-between time to navigating maternity leave. Now, the latest installment: My new job!

Tomorrow is my first day at Hungryroot, a New York-based company dedicated to making it easy to eat healthily on an everyday basis. I’m thrilled to be joining founder and CEO Ben McKean and the team as VP of Brand and Customer Experience, and to create an even more delicious, inspiring, and personalized experience for the Hungryroot community.

This decision is the result of a two year journey, both career and personal. In that time I’ve consulted for and advised amazing brands (hi Collective Retreats, Sakara, Raised Real and Misfit Juicery!) and created a wonderful little human named Lilly. And all of that helped me realize what I was looking for next.

Typical #greenthings

The first step was identifying the problem I wanted to solve. I’ve always been passionate about food and wellness and I thought a lot about whether there was a way to turn my love of #greenthings into a scalable business. I looked at it from every which way but decided that I wasn’t ready to drop everything and open an Ottolenghi-style cafe in Brooklyn (one day, though!).

Once I realized I wasn’t going to start my own thing, I began to draw tighter circles around what my ideal role and company would look like. After plenty of scribbling, Venn diagram-ing, and list making, it came down to three things: opportunity, scope, and — most importantly — culture. While these won’t be the same for everyone, this might be helpful if you’re thinking about making a leap.

Opportunity: I realized pretty early on that I’m motivated by interesting problems, and by businesses solving those problems in innovative ways. I loved Birchbox not because I love beauty products, but because I’m passionate about helping people find what’s right for them. That’s the same reason I started a newsletter with suggestions on how to optimize your week — we’re all short on time and in need of shortcuts to the good stuff.

At Hungryroot, the problem we’re solving is huge, and deeply personal: How do you make it easy, affordable, and tasty to eat healthily? It’s something I struggle with even though I go to bed thinking about breakfast, bookmark recipes in my Instagram, and happily spend all weekend in the kitchen.

From my first conversation with Ben, I realized that Hungryroot was uniquely positioned to solve this problem for a huge range of people across the country and in many walks of life. We offer an assortment of plant-based foods that are ready-to-eat or ready in under 15 minutes — think cauliflower rice with kale pesto, or sweet potato noodles with peanut sauce. When you subscribe, you receive everything you need to prepare these dishes, and you can customize as much or as little as you like. As your needs change, you might find that you’re mixing and matching the different Hungryroot products, or adding proteins or fun extras.

It’s designed to be flexible and to fit your lifestyle, while giving you a baseline of fast, nutritious options. I can’t think of a better way to spend my days than thinking about how to make healthy food fast, approachable, and fun.

Couldn’t have said it better myself :)

Scope: One of the scariest and most rewarding aspects of being at a company at an early stage is the fact that every one of your actions can have a major impact. When I was exploring opportunities, I kept coming back to that: would I have the ability to tangibly influence and shape the business?

Ben and the Hungryroot team are passionate about their customer and committed to creating more and better dishes, and to delivering them in a personalized, delightful way. They’ve built a rock-solid foundation to do this — read Ben’s post about how he stopped taking orders for six months in order to create a platform for future growth — but they’ve never had anyone specifically focused on brand and end to end customer experience. I’m jazzed to take on this responsibility, and to get to know the Hungryroot customer and to help them find the version of healthy that works for them.

Culture: At the end of the day, people are everything. Over the years I’ve worked with brilliant, inspiring people who remain my closest friends and have seen how culture directly affects business results. Now that I am a parent, it’s even more important that I go to an office where everyone is engaged in the big idea, and where all voices and ideas are welcome. Ben has created that environment, and a culture built on the values of positivity, proactivity, and transparency. I’ve missed the feeling of being part of a team and can’t wait to be part of this one.

I start tomorrow, and it feels like back to school in the best possible way. I’ve got my outfit picked out, but instead of a lunch I’m packing some of these chocolate chip cookies for the team. After all, I want them to know I’m serious about food as happiness.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll check out Hungryroot—use code MOLLIE for half off your first box. Let me know what you think and ideas for new dishes—after all, it’s my job to make all of you amazing healthy food. How cool is that?

Tip: Try the almond chickpea cookie dough!



mollie chen

vp of brand and customer experience at hungryroot. birchbox cofounder.