Emily Schildt’s got everyone talking about food.
And it’s a pretty powerful conversation. Emily’s interested in food as it relates to personal identity– specifically how the food choices we make are reflections of who we are.
As Emily explains in our interview, the food space is changing–it’s being disrupted–and the future of food is going to depend on the quality of our conversations about it. Enter Bitten. Emily co-founded Bitten with her close friend Naz Riahi to bring together thought-leaders and innovators in the food space and discuss food as it relates to politics, art, culture and the environment.
Read on to learn how Emily’s perspective on eating shifted from vanity-driven to pleasure-seeking, why she encourages other founders to find a great partner and how she embraces awkward moments that push her out of her comfort zone and allow her to truly excel.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Emily. I live in New York (soon to be Brooklyn, specifically!) by way of Maryland. My enthusiasm for three things pretty much sums me up–food, travel and my rescue dog, Harvey. I have an insatiable curiosity, which makes New York the perfect city for me, and desire to have as many experiences in this life as possible.
I am the Co-founder of Bitten, a marketing firm and platform for conversation around innovation, creativity and technology in food. My day-to-day entails helping our awesome clients define and evolve their brands, meeting interesting people and listening intently to their stories and eating lots of delicious food. Rough, I know.
Why food? When did you first become interested in it? When did you know food was going to be a part of your career?
My interest in food stemmed from a place, originally, not dissimilar from a lot of people. I was concerned about my diet, in advance of spending a semester in Italy, and thus started paying close attention to what I was eating. I wanted to be in my best shape ever before venturing into the land of bread, pasta and wine, so I started researching everything. That initial interest was only exacerbated (and totally shifted in so many important ways) when I actually got to Italy. I learned how to cook, how to eat for pleasure (not for vanity) and how much food choices are a statement of identity. Italians are defined by their food culture.
Anyway, I came back and started a food blog (with the rest of the world in 2007) and fast forward a few years, ultimately landed a job at Chobani. The food startup grew quickly in my time there, in fact it was one of the fastest-growing companies in history, and that’s where my interested in food from an entrepreneurial perspective came in. Basically, there was no turning back for me.
Describe how you founded Bitten. Were there any unexpected challenges? What advice do you have for founders?
Starting Bitten with Naz has been one of the most significant life experiences for me. It is simultaneously incredibly challenging and rewarding. It is really, really hard… and also, really, really freeing.
The most unexpected thing to come of it is the growth in myself through my relationship with Naz in building our business. My advice to other founders is to get a partner. You might be able to do it alone, but you won’t learn nearly as much and you won’t have nearly as much fun.
Bitten emphasizes disruption in the food space. Who’s doing the disruption and why are they doing it?
Food is universal–it touches us all. But while we all have to eat, for so long the topic of food has been reserved for a few–the ‘foodies.’ Restaurant critics were degreed and seasoned and wrote for the New York Times. Healthy eaters were hippies, obsessive, or at the very least, all women. High-end restaurant food was reserved for the upper echelon, found only at white table cloths. And good-quality products found in the grocery store, where still, a lot of work has yet to be done, came with expensive price tags or could be found in specialty stores. But today, barriers are being broken and not only is good food more accessible and approachable for the masses, but influencers outside of the food industry itself have made it cool.
Technology has fundamentally changed everything.. It has allowed us to scale the impact of a shared meal, and thus allow us to use food as a grander means of connection. It has completely changed our relationship to food, an through it, our relationship to others. Just as fashion has allowed us to express ourselves and give ourselves an identity for years, now food can do the same. The green top you selected to strut on the street says as much as that green juice you just Instagrammed.
How do you stay motivated? Who inspires you?
Of course Naz motivates and inspires me. Also, I am fortunate to have built a community of amazing women here in New York over the past 4 years. My friends are astoundingly creative, ambitious and insightful. I learn so much from them and they are constant sources of inspiration. It’s at least one reason I’m happy for the single culture here in New York… I think women here need each other more.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Wiser, happier. That’s all.
This New Year I wrote that the past year was the most uncomfortable, and yet the best. I wrote that I wanted 2015 to be super uncomfortable. So, I guess I hope that the next 5-10 years are really freaking awkward. For us all.
Tell us about your experience using about.me.
I love about.me for its simplicity–it doesn’t ask too much of the user–and its ability to easily connect me with others of like mind and interest.
*Loved Emily’s story? Check back for Naz’s interview on our blog next week.
Anna Lizaur is a Marketing Manager with about.me. She graduated from the University of Virginia. Anna is fluent in Spanish and can count to 100 in Chinese.