Today we’re profiling HEUCY Gal Ali Cayne, the founder of Haven’s Kitchen — an amazing cooking school, food shop and event space in New York City. (Which, coincidentally has some seriously decadent Valentine’s Day gifts including CHOCOLATE GANACHE DULCE DE LECHE CAKE FOR TWO and tons of other delicious items and classes available online if you still need to get something for your sweetie, to go along with your HEUCY Date Night dress. Just sayin’…)
Anyhoo, back to Ali. She founded Haven’s Kitchen while she was in the midst of a major life change. She had just started to get her Master’s in Food Studies, and was moving downtown with her five kids. She had separated from her husband, whom she married when she was 25, and was starting a completely new chapter in her life. Ali was bravely moving out of the comfort zone of a very familiar existence, into unmarked territory.
Her idea for Haven’s came about organically. Ali always loved to cook, and was often teaching cooking classes to friends and friends of friends who loved her food. Ali thought, why not make this into a business? The premise was to teach cooking that comes from intuition, while using fresh, sustainable and delicious ingredients.
Coincidentally, I was one of the first people to “beta test” Haven’s Kitchen, at a private cooking class a few years ago. It was pretty awesome. We made chicken pot pie, from scratch, and drank copious amounts of red wine while churning béchamel sauce and rolling out pie crusts. I felt like I was in the middle of a Nancy Meyers film (if you’ve been to Haven’s, you’ll know what I’m talking about). We laughed a lot, and learned that chicken pot pie could never, ever be called “low fat.” But the bigger picture was, who cares? It was freezing outside, we were learning from a literal “top chef” (who has since moved to Nashville to open her own restaurant) and we were having so much fun. Not surprisingly, Haven’s has slowly, but surely, taken off since then as New Yorkers’ favorite “place to reconnect with food, our community, and each other.”
We’ve asked Ali to share some of her seasonal “non-recipes” with us, which are perfect for the HEUCY Gal on the go. Those will come soon. In the meantime, Ali has some priceless advice for anyone who is thinking about starting a new career, or choosing a new path in life…or doing something completely new and unusual on the side.
#1: Start learning the thing that you find interesting.
Ali has always loved good food, and cooking, so she decided to get a Masters in Food Studies. This led to a major “aha” moment, when Ali was tasked with finding an internship as part of her course curriculum. Not being a “millennial,” and having five kids at home, Ali thought it would be quite difficult to find an employer who would hire a thirty-something intern. But she swallowed her pride and reached out to the woman who was running the Education Station at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. The woman met with Ali, and immediately handed her the keys to the Education van when she found out Ali had five kids. She said, “If you are currently parenting five children, then you can clearly handle this job.” That internship was a turning point for Ali, because many of the people on her tour would correspond with her afterward for thoughts and advice. It helped give her the confidence to open Haven’s Kitchen.
#2: Don’t separate who you are and who you want to be. Figure out who you want to be and go for it.
Ali had been a wife and mother for almost 15 years, but didn’t start Haven’s until she was in her late thirties. She also pointed out that Edith Wharton didn’t write her first book until she was 40, and Julia Child didn’t become “Julia Child” until she was 40. We have our own timelines, and there’s always enough time to pursue your passion.
#3: Don’t be intimidated by the creative process.
It’s so easy to assume that some people are just born talented. This may be partly true…but success is also due, in large part, to hard work. Ask anyone who has published a novel. So if you want to write a book, or paint a picture…or pursue any type of creative endeavor, don’t assume that you aren’t talented enough to do it. There’s a lot of elbow grease and patience involved. And the first step (not to sound cliche, or anything) is to start your project.
A lot of this is easier said than done, especially for those of us with millions of balls and responsibilities in the air. But it’s incredibly inspiring to see a HEUCY Gal like Ali, who has managed to recreate her life and successfully do something every day that she really loves.
Oh, and did we mention that Ali is currently dating a younger French man? Follow your dreams, gals.
The HEUCY TEam