Thursday, August 24, 2017

Insecure with Blue Apron Founder Matt Salzberg

Following the mention of Blue Apron during a steamy sex scene in HBO's Insecure, which may have been the funniest product placement ever (did Blue Apron pay for that?!), I remembered my impromptu interview with Blue Apron founder Matt Salzberg at the Builders + Innovators Summit in 2015.
If you haven't seen the show, every character is seeking respect in some way, in their personal and/or professional lives. This leads me to question whether they are all insecure and what leads to that state of mind. Blue Apron actually ties in nicely because so many people are insecure about their cooking skills. Salzberg mentioned to me that their mission is to make cooking so accessible that no one should feel intimidated by the prospect. Here's our interview:

Is Blue Apron for people who need handholding? MS: There's a misconception that it limits creativity but we inspire you to try new things so you're not cooking the same thing again and again. We're expanding your culinary repertoire and horizons.

What do people discover beyond how to cook a recipe? MS: We think about people eating at home in a holistic way. New ingredients, the suppliers, stories of families, and entrepreneurs behind new farming techniques. Also, we design our recipes to be accessible to the beginner but interesting and fun for experienced chefs, so they become better cooks. It's lifelong learning. Even great cooks get introduced to new recipes and ingredients. The longer people stay with us, the more likely they'll stay much longer.

What have you eaten through Blue Apron you otherwise wouldn't have eaten? MS: Chickpea burgers, soba noodles, and hearty grains are a few examples. Blue Apron is meant to introduce you to new things, new varieties. Every week we feature an ingredient or technique in our deliveries such as the varieties and history of lentils. We help preserve and teach the culture of food.

Your software allows you to predict demand and costs, so do you see trends and do you create trends? MS: People tell us about their preferences and dietary restrictions, so we have an idea which recipes are more or less popular. Fundamentally, designing a great recipe is not number-crunching regression analysis though, it is about having great chefs who create food that people love.

What would you like to know about people and food if you could snap your fingers and have the research done, as on Petridish? MS: I think it's what Sweet Greens did, and Dan Barber did. How to take food waste from the supply chain and put it to use. How to better use our agricultural resources to reduce waste.

What would you say to people afraid of failure, who suspect or know they're bad cooks? MS: There's no reason food should be intimidating. Our mission is to make it accessible to everyone. People used to learn to cook by starting with basic skill primers but our recipes are accessible even to the completely novice chef.



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