Thursday, June 3rd I was able to sit down with Shane and Chantal Valentine, founders of Alina’s Cucina, and ask them about their new book “The Baby Cuisine Cookbook”. It’s a beautiful book with a lot of recipes the whole family will enjoy, as well as babies from 6 months old. I tried their hummus and it was very tasty with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and lemon.
CnC: Who came up with the idea first?
Shane: I did. I was looking to make Alina’s food when she was 6 months old. I thought I’d do some research and buy some books. Even with my culinary background, I was a little scared of what I could give her and I was kind of uninspired by what was out there. I started asking questions like, “What do they feed their kids overseas?” They eat what the family eats. I went to our pediatrician who co-authored book with me, Dr. Cullen. I said, “If I make this for her, can she eat it?” She said,“Yes. She can eat flavor. She can have spices and she can have all these things. It’s actually better for her. It helps in developing her palette.” So that’s what started this thing – my quest to find something healthy and flavorful for Alina to eat, as young as 6 months old.
CnC: When did it go from ‘just an idea’ to an actual working project?
Chantal: That was right away. Shane was kind of done with corporate America and he decided he wanted to do his own thing. So he said, “Let’s make a cookbook, let’s do it!” He quit his job to follow his passion. Then I did the same a year later.
CnC: How do you juggle everything with having a 3-year-old and twins?
Chantal: That’s a very good question. We just do it. There’s not a lot of sleep happening, and that’s okay.
CnC: There are a lot of books out there about cooking for children, why do you believe in your product? Why do you think other moms really need to take a look at this book and try to incorporate it in their lives?
Chantal: Ours is the only baby food cookbook based on international cuisine. So it’s expanding your baby to the foods of the world. It’s also the only baby food cookbook that comes with a DVD that shows you exactly how to make the recipes. Shane is in the kitchen with Alina whipping them up for any moms that might have questions about specific recipes. It’s the only baby food cookbook that’s co-authored by a naturopathic doctor. The whole introduction is written by Dr. Tamara Cullen who specializes in pediatrics and teaches pediatric natural medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle. Moms have told us that the book is not overwhelming. It looks do-able and they WANT to make the recipes. The recipes are for the whole family so you don’t have to make more than one meal. It is much less expensive to make your own food than to buy a jar of food, even organic.
CnC: What was the single moment that made you realize, “This is real, this is it”?
Shane: It was when we went down to the local Whole Foods where we were up in Seattle. We into the store and asked them, “Do you think this book would fit in your store?” They said to bring it to the regional office which was right down the road. We dropped it off with a note, never even talked to the regional buyer. The next day they sent an email that said, “We love it, we want it, let’s make it happen!” And that’s when it was real.
CnC: What would be the one piece of advice you would give a family with young children who want to embark on their own business?
Shane: If you believe in it, you just have to do it. You have to go for it. You can’t wait for the perfect plan or you can’t wait for the perfect situation saying ‘if this happens then I’ll do that’. Sometimes you just have to go in and continue to keep going. If we waited for everything to line up, we’d still be waiting and now here we are. You create your own destiny.
– Thank you Shane and Chanteal for taking the time to talk with me during your event at the San Mateo Whole Foods, and for letting me help feed your son!
The Baby Cuisine Cookbook can be purchased at many northern California Whole Foods Stores or you may order it online from Alina’s Cucina.
This is NOT a sponsored post.