Nicole Centeno, Founder of Splendid Spoon
Nicole Centeno, French Culinary Institute–trained chef, founder and CEO of Splendid Spoon, has been taking the Brooklyn clean eats' scene by storm. Of course, this caught our attention and there was no doubt we needed to share her story during our health & wellness week. This mom of two intelligently talks her plant based, ready-to-eat meal service, the struggles of gender discrimination and how recognize and respond to signals in your environment to be the best YOU. Oh, and Nicole has a little somethin-somethin for all of you at the end! We hope you enjoy :)
Nicole, tell us a little bit about your journey from your childhood all the way to your wellness “ah-ha” moment?
I have always been fascinated by food. My earliest memories are of tasting, growing and making food. This curiosity led me to study biology and diet therapies as treatment for epilepsy when I was in college, and later to attend the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. The real ah-ha moment was when I became pregnant with my first son, Grover. Pregnancy is a real wake-up call to the care we direct to ourselves - both emotionally and physically. I saw how disproportionate my care was for people and things that were not me! Creating Splendid Spoon was my attempt to create peace and balance with my body and mind. Simple, plant-based meals, eaten with attention and intention helped me transform my life.
You founded Splendid Spoon in 2013. As a mom of two, what was it like to just get up and start your own company? Do you ever feel the pressure of the overly glorified "doing it all"?
There have certainly been some big jumps, but mostly I experience being a mom and entrepreneur as a journey. There have been many mornings of getting up and wondering why is this so hard? Will I ever succeed? Am I crazy? Instead of getting overwhelmed by these concepts I chose to trust myself. I chose to take a little step every day toward the things that I cared most about: being a great mom, being a great leader.
I align with people who share the same values as I do, and I trust them to take their little steps every day as well. So I have a lot of support in this way. Of course, I don’t want to let people down. I think that is my greatest challenge - concern that I will let people down.
On top of all that, you are a female entrepreneur. In today’s political climate, the fight for equality has been tough. Have you had any personal struggles or discrimination because of your gender?
Yes, I think so. I use all conflicts as deep learning experiences and my biggest takeaway is that discrimination is a complex, very sad issue that affects our entire society. On a more practical note, when I sense someone is closing me out because of who I am, I do not take it personally. I let them keep that discriminatory experience for themselves - I don’t soak it up as something I need to process for them. I have learned to simply trust that someone else will ‘get me.’ It is certainly more effortful because there are so many men in leadership roles and there are lots of women in leadership roles who have adopted the philosophy that they should lead like a man to get ahead. I lead the way that is right for me, my family, my business. Period. I have always had conviction in this mindset, so I do not get knocked down for long when outsiders put me down for my way of doing things. I have my parents to thank for this!
What's your advice to those, especially women who may have difficulty with any of the above?
You can’t address discrimination or anything that causes you pain if you don’t have a firm understanding of yourself. Do the work to really get to know yourself and what makes you feel most ‘you.’
As you get better at doing ‘you,’ pay attention to the signals from your environment: are relationships growing? Are your projects evolving? Are you smiling more? When you feel confused, go deep within yourself again, turn to the people who know you best, and then take another step forward.
If someone outside of you is causing you pain (business or personal), take the time to understand that pain so you can move with intention. Simply turning away from the pain will only bring you right back to it in another form, but knowing yourself will help you develop the support and confidence to fight discrimination in a way that is productive for your life.
What makes your brand stand out among the rest?
Splendid Spoon is dedicated to improving human beings through their relationship with food. We believe how you eat is as important as what you eat, and I don’t think there is another food company out there doing this.
What's next for you, Nicole?
More travel with my kids I hope!! My passport is getting dusty :)
Splendid was so kind to share a promo code with thecnnekt community! Enjoy $25 off of Splendid Spoon's Program 2.0 by clicking here. Coupon code will automatically apply.
Interviewed by Emily