Welcome to Homeschool Your Way. I'm your host, Janna Cook and BooksShark's community manager. Today you might want to grab an apron and think about where in the world you and your child would like to travel. My guest is Rowena Scherer. She is the creator of eat2explore, and we're going to be talking about how her program can help you and your children not only spend quality time together learning how to cook, but explore the world as you go to different countries learning about culture, geography, plus my favorite part, food.
Rowena, thank you so much for being here.
Thanks for having me, Janna.
I'm super excited to talk about not only eat2explore and what it offers your customers, but also the heart behind it and your story of why you created it.
eat2explore was born, first of all, eat2explore is actually a food and cultural experience in a box, a cooking kit, and the mission behind it is really to teach kids and to have kids learn with their families about the world through food. Even though it's a cooking kit, it does have an immense amount of information to learn, the history and geography and music and art of the country. That's basically eat2explore in a nutshell.
What did you want to accomplish when you decided to create this program?
There's a story behind it. I actually call it my onion aha moment because few years ago, in 2016 for a Spring break, I took my family to Thailand and we were in a cooking class. My two children at that time were nine and 12, and they were looking at this onion. They're like, "Mom, what do you want me to do with it? " I was disappointed because I grew up cooking with my mom and my sisters. It was like every weekend on Sunday we cooked together and that's how I developed a passion for food and cooking. Then I look at my children and they're like, "I don't know what to do with this onion." It was disappointing, but then I felt like it was my fault. I have been a mom that is so worried about them getting hurt and I don't want them in my kitchen, I totally fail as a parent.
That's kind of a moment where it dawned on me that I should let my kid fail. They need to learn how to cut the food and hurt themselves and then they'll never do it again. It's a life skill. Food, they're very good at eating, they're very good at trying different food, and they love to travel, but cooking is such a life skill that if you don't develop confidence when you're younger, it's harder when you're older to pick it up, to have the confidence to start. I, at that moment, sort of took a pause and said, "Hey," I've been working on Wall Street and been working as a working mom, but I sort of look back and say, "What is my passion? Do I have the next phase in me to try to build something totally different?"
That's where eat2explore idea came about, so it sort of follows my passion for cooking and traveling and culture and learning, and most importantly, education. Educating the next generation to be better global citizens and more aware of what's happening around the world.
I think I told my kids when they were initially cutting, I'm like, "It's okay. It doesn't have to look perfect and as long as you try, I'm glad you try it." I think that that's actually a better way to do than criticizing. That's lesson learned from my mom to not be the same.
Oh, Rowena, we all have those, and our children I'm sure have those about us as well.
I know, exactly.
I do like that idea of encouragement over criticism because you don't know what you don't know. Even though you have a picture of someone who has done it professionally and understands how it all works together, if your picture doesn't match up with what the creator said, it's like, "Okay, well maybe next time you'll get closer." Or yours doesn't ever have to look like that person's. It's all about interpretation and especially with cooking, it is all about taste. My husband has this thing that he likes to say, "You're not much for presentation, are you?" I'm not. I'm not, but it tastes good, so what does it matter what it looks like? That's something maybe in this next year I'm going to try to do a little bit better, be more aware of my presentation, but it's pretty funny that he would even notice that. But that's important to him where it's just not important to me.
Right. Right. Right, right. But we actually have always a final product look on our recipe cards and I know some children to present it the same way kind of thing to make it beautiful. It's fun, it's a fun thing. I think kids love and I also feel more and more, it's a good time now because you have kids watching Food Network and all the TV and cooking shows and so they also want to try. This is a great way to encourage that passion and it's a life skill. I really think every children should learn how to cook.
I was watching a YouTube video of brothers that were going through one of your holiday boxes and making cookies from different places around the world. I loved, in one of the clips they said, "Well, this was the one that looked the best," and he talked about how when he had rolled out the dough, some were thicker, some were thinner, and then they presented the best ones. I think that's such a great way to look at it. You're always going to have, especially when you're baking or cooking, it's like some get a little crispier because they weren't as thick or they didn't get quite done. But you always have that opportunity. But I have to tell you, those young boys, they did a great job and their cookies looked like the picture.
It's great when we receive photos of videos from customers and it makes me very happy.
Well, they were definitely happy working through those different types of cookies and they did a great job, which really does help people see that it is doable, that these aren't complicated. It's not to create stress or make you feel like a failure. You're actually setting your customers up to succeed with their children in the kitchen while having these amazing experiences around the world.
Yeah, thank you. I truly believe it's a great way to learn. We have 23 countries now and we have two, as you say, as you found out, the two baking kits around the world, and we always want to keep adding. We aim to add two new countries every year and a new dessert box every two years.
Then you do have some different options for dietary restrictions as well.
Yes. We have a regular one and then we have a vegetarian optional, which is also vegan optional, and then a gluten-free optional. The reason why is ... Some of the boxes are available, like our Brazil is both regular, vegetarian, and gluten-free optional. That's because we don't provide the fresh ingredients so you can sub it with tofu or other protein that's vegan protein. We describe that on the cooking recipes, on the recipes and the shopping list so you can use it and use the same spice and the sauces, just change your fresh ingredients.
Well, I know that as a family that is gluten-free, that's always nice to see that those options are available.
Rowena, before we go, I always ask our guests to share a life hack or homeschool hack, but in your case, maybe you have a kitchen hack that you can share with our audience.
A kitchen hack, yeah. Meatballs. One thing that's in our recipes, we teach about all the different meatballs around the world. Most recipes for meatballs, you fry it. I actually, in our recipes,, we broil it. You roll it and then you quickly broil them and then you use that in and use a sauce or something to braize it and make it better. I like to use bake instead of fry. I try to use more oven instead of frying it with oil. I guess you can call that a hack.
The other thing that I just taught today, I was doing a cooking demo for Thailand, is when you're cooking rice instead of measuring from cup, I grew up learning that to measure the amount of water you need. If you have a pot full of rice, you measure it to the tip of the rice, you measure it like this with your fingers, and then the amount of water is exactly the same from the top of the rice to the amount of water you need. It's almost one and a half because you still have water on the rice, so yeah, that's sort of my hack when I cook rice.
Well, thank you so much for taking time to talk about eat2explore. I'm excited for families to hear about this other option that they can incorporate into their homeschool if they're looking for something to spice up, it'd be the second half of their school year.
Thank you. I think it'll be a fun way to learn the different subjects for homeschool.
Thank you guys so much for joining us. Until next time, buh-bye.