On a recent afternoon, Chef Emilie took the time to chat with Living Greenwich about being a chef, an entrepreneur, and a mom.
Emilie Chang Ho didn’t set out to be a chef and healthy lifestyle advocate. But after a pre-diabetic diagnosis, this mother of two knew she had to make a change. “I adopted a ‘Paleo lifestyle,’” she explains. “People think it’s a ‘caveman’ diet, but that’s really a misconception. It’s a whole and nutrient-rich foods-based diet.”
As she was making the change to eliminate processed foods from her diet, she started experimenting in the kitchen with different recipes. “In particular, I found that snacks were the toughest. In today’s world, Paleo-friendly foods aren’t always available or convenient when you’re on the go.”
Emilie put her love of cooking and baking to work, and created a cracker she could snack on that was minimally processed with Paleo-friendly ingredients. That was about a year-and-a-half ago. And since then, the little crackers from Emilie's Kitchen have made a big impression throughout Fairfield and Westchester Counties.
Living Greenwich: How did you decide to take your crackers beyond your own kitchen?
Emilie Chang Ho: You know, it was just one of those things. I started making the crackers, and I thought they were pretty good. I shared them with my family and some friends, and eventually, enough people said to me, ‘These are really good! You should sell these.’ And I thought, ‘I could probably do that.”
LG: How did you know where to start?
ECH: Well, I used to work in finance. I left about four years ago, after the birth of my second son. So I had some understanding of the business end. I first approached the market manager at the Greenwich Farmers’ Market. She was really excited. Since then, I’ve expanded to other Farmers’ Markets in the area, as well as 12 or 13 retail locations. (Find the full list here: http://www.emilies-kitchen.com/where-to-find/)
LG: So, tell us about the crackers.
ECH: They’re made from sunflower and sesame seeds, and we make them in three flavors. Original, which is just lightly sweetened with coconut sugar, but it’s not a sweet cracker. Savory, which is seasoned with sea salt. And Dipping, which is a garlic and onion cracker. They’re all vegan, Paleo- and allergy-friendly. They’re made with pure food and simple ingredients that you can pronounce.
LG: Are you still making all the crackers yourself?
ECH: Yes, I’ve been working in a rented facility in downtown Greenwich. Sometimes, I recruit my friends to come in and help. But I’m looking at expanding production, so I’ve been working with another facility to help me do that.
LG: Do you ever get sick of cooking?
ECH: (Laughs) Well, I cook about 19 or 20 meals a week for the family, so I definitely do cook a lot, but I really enjoy it!
LG: Do you cook with your kids?
ECH: Yes, in fact, it was so sweet. My youngest is turning five. And this year, he asked if we could do a cooking party for his birthday. I’m not sure how I’ll manage to keep all those kids organized in the kitchen. We’ll have to keep it simple.
LG: So you're working and living in Greenwich now, tell us how that is.
ECH: When we moved from the city, one of my top wishes was to find a place that we loved so we’d never have to move again. In looking back, I don’t think we could have found a nicer town. I love working here, being near my children, and interacting with the local community.
LG: We love living here, what do you like about our community?
ECH: I love the people in Greenwich. There is so much talent here and so many great personalities. People here are supportive of the local businesses and truly appreciative of good quality when they see it. I also love the beauty of Greenwich. We have gorgeous beaches and parks for all to enjoy. Last but not least, I appreciate all of the local businesses that give our town its own wonderful character. Greenwich has a true sense of community and many ways to get involved. It has been such a pleasure to be a part of it all.
LG: What are some of your favorite local businesses?
LG: Go-to place for Friday dinner with husband and the kids?
ECH: Our home, of course!
LG: Which civic or charity organizations in town do you support, or which groups do work that you admire?
ECH: I admire the Junior League for all of the family-friendly events they are able to put together year in and year out to support various local causes. I also support Greenwich Hospital and Greenwich Point Conservancy.