Tyler Harvey + Faye Bradshaw, Sakara Life Head Chefs
It's a major feat to create a perfect Sakara meal: one that's nutrient-dense, profoundly delicious, hydrating, inflammation-fighting, balanced, packed with greens, satiating and capital Y yum. But time and again, our head chefs Tyler Harvey and Faye Bradshaw, bring their passion to the plate, and create just that. Their praises were sung over at Avokween; you MUST read the interview below:
Can you share your journey up to this point?
Tyler Harvey: I took a relatively unconventional path to end up in the world of food. I did my undergraduate work in English Literature, but I did know very early on that food would play a prominent role in my life. My senior year of college I took a Shakespeare course at the Folger library in Washington DC and found myself there on the weekends checking 15th century cookbooks out of the collection to flip through. In hindsight, that's really when I realized that I needed to make food the central focus of my career. I worked in restaurants in Washington DC for 4 years, worked as the chef of a fly fishing ranch in Colorado, and launched a food business at Dartmouth College before I joined the team at Sakara. After working in kitchens in DC, I started to feel a pull towards nutritionally driven food and wanted to find a way to merge my culinary passion with my interest in and commitment to wellness. I'm able to do that in spades at Sakara!
Faye Bradshaw: I grew up in Chicago and then went to The Hotel School at Cornell. After that, I attended the Culinary Institute of America and then went to work for Hillstone. While with Hillstone, I moved to Santa Monica, San Francisco, and Boston before settling down in NYC. I’ve been here for 8 years now and just made the big move from Manhattan to Brooklyn (so far I’m loving it!). I was recruited by our current Head of Operations, Kim (a former Hillstone colleague) and I was pretty skeptical at first of all these veggies and ingredients I hadn't heard of before. I’ve been with Sakara for the past three years and I totally drink the kool-aid now – I’m always going to love cured meats and cheese, but now I balance that with a healthy dose of veggies and superfoods.
What do you love most about your job?
Tyler Harvey: I love how dynamic it is and that I'm always on my toes. We are a lean team, which means that we all have to be able to fill a variety of roles - sometimes without much notice. I am someone who gets very dissatisfied when I'm not being challenged, so this environment suits me well. I also love that my job is as much about people as it is about food. Not only the amazing (and quickly growing) number of people we feed, but also the amazing team that works SO hard to produce it all!
Faye Bradshaw: Every day is different and challenging, but I love having the autonomy to make decisions that push real-time change for our business. I’m lucky to work with amazingly smart and talented people that give me guidance and support to help me figure out the best decision, even when I’m not sure what to do! Danielle and Whitney have built a great team with people that are genuinely good at their jobs and really stand behind our mission. Also, I love learning about new and cool ingredients and superfoods! (I didn't know what hemp seeds were until I joined, and now I put a sprinkle on everything I cook at home).
What do you love most about yourselves?
Tyler Harvey: I love my "ambivert" tendencies. For much of my life I struggled to reconcile the fact that I have strong introvert tendencies, but am also a very social creature. In the past I used to get frustrated with myself for not having enough social energy, but now I embrace the fact that I can be both introspective and energized by others. I think it equips me to understand and appreciate both mentalities and helps me as a people manager.
Faye Bradshaw: I’m an only child, so I take great pride in my friendships. I LOVE to host people and parties – if you come to my place, you will be greeted with a beverage (current ‘house cocktail’ is mezcal, beet juice and hibiscus tea) and a snack. I’m also good at staying calm in the face of a major storm (literal and figurative), which there are plenty of when you're running the major operation of Sakara. I roll up my sleeves and keep going until the problem is solved. Last, but certainly not least, I have great eyes ;)
Take us through a day in the life of Faye + Tyler.
Tyler Harvey: If it's a work day, it begins on the early side (around 5-5:30am). I start my day off with hot lemon water and will sometimes make a smoothie before heading into the kitchen to make sure things get off without a hitch. Mornings are go time in the kitchen, so I generally don't stop to eat lunch (Sakara meal!) until mid afternoon, though I'm incessantly tasting everything in the kitchen to make sure it's perfect. Once we wind down in the kitchen, I might head to a yoga class or whip up something simple at home to eat while I finish up work. I've been really trying to set a hard unplug time of 8pm (not always successfully), at which point I'll read or watch a show and head to bed! My days (both work days and days off) are very food motivated - probably no surprise there. I definitely plan my time in terms of what my next meals will be and love trying new restaurants.
Faye Bradshaw: When we can, we try to snag a very early morning exercise class before heading into the kitchen. Each day varies depending on the week and if we're breaking records (which we just did, again, for our top list campaign!). The record-smashing weeks involve making sure everything that needs to happen, happens. It could be anything, from tracking down extra ice packs to portioning salad dressings. Last week, I literally prepped mushrooms all day and Tyler scooped beet burgers until almost 9pm.