I launched my regular Girl Boss feature last year as a platform to champion some of the incredible women that inspire me and so many others, not only in the hospitality industry but in fashion, technology and lifestyle too. I’ve met some hugely inspirational ladies and made friends along the way so I thought it was about time to show the men some love. I’m really excited to introduce my first guest – Myles Hopper, co-founder of Mindful Chef, one of the largest health food companies in the UK.
What’s the best thing about working in a team with your best mates?
You can be honest with each other and ultimately you will always have each others best interests at heart. Having three of us means we can always make a democratic decision in the best interest of the company.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced since you launched and how did you overcome it?
Raising capital for the business and scaling operationally without that capital. For the best part of 2 years we were packing boxes ourselves at the weekend and trying to convince people recipes boxes did work during the week. Both mentally and physically it was extremely hard – we would pack from 6am until 6pm on Sundays, then go home and answer customer emails. Thankfully we have now outsourced our packing and can scale the operations easily as we grow.
Mindful Chef is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives, have you got any simple advice for anyone trying to reduce their intake of sugar and processed foods?
Don’t overcomplicate things. Make small habitual changes each day and you’ll reap the rewards in the long term.
Have you seen any exciting ingredients or emerging trends in recent months that we should be looking out for?
I think we’ll see more interesting ingredients emerge in the plant based world. Ingredients like agar (seaweed) for example. Natural colourings like pandan or matcha for vibrant green colours too. I believe the shift for flexitarianism will grow even stronger as more people become aware of the quality of food they eat and their impact on the environment.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be okay with saying no to others. Time is the most precious commodity we own and you should guard it.
Who do you look up to for inspiration and why?
For hard work my mum – she worked two jobs so we could have all of the possibilities she didn’t growing up. For business there are a whole host of people I look up to and take inspiration from. My advice would be to speak to as many people as you can and learn as much as you can. Books can really help here too.
You visit all of your suppliers on a regular basis so must have to travel a lot, how do you find balance between work and social life?
That’s part of the job we love so it never really seems like work. Getting to meet and speak to these amazing suppliers right on our doorstep is why we started Mindful Chef in the first place.
Where would you like to see Mindful Chef in five years time?
We want to build a community that is engaged on a mission so much bigger than Mindful Chef. We make healthy eating easy but our business aims to be a force for good. By mobilising and equipping our community with the tools they too can help us achieve this goal. For example for every meal our customers eat we donate a school meal to a child living in poverty. Thanks to our customers we have donated over 650,000 school meals to date – that is real positive change in action.
On to the less serious stuff! What do you enjoy doing to relax after a stressful day?
During the summer we’ll go outside for walks as a family. When it gets a bit darker I’ll either train or I find cooking is a great way to relax as well. You have to concentrate so it offers a real escapism from everything else that’s going on. It’s good fun to just turn up the music and experiment with different ingredients in a pan.
Talk me through your day in food: Do you have time for breakfast? What’s your favourite meal?
I don’t function very well without breakfast so I’ll always make time for it. Usually I will have eggs, tomatoes, some greens and a piece of fruit. Or I’ll make a smoothie with protein, oats, fruits, peanut butter and some spinach – the works. We’ll usually cook lunch together in the office or I’ll try and get my hands on one of the new recipes being cooked up by Chef Louisa and her team each day. Dinner at the beginning of the week is always Mindful Chef and then fajita Fridays towards the end of the week. My favourite meal is brunch – always brunch.
Where are your favourite places to eat out and why?
For the view – there is an amazing warung overlooking the surf at Uluwatu. Smokestak is one of my favourites closer to home – I’m not overly fussed about fine dining and their signature beef brisket is out of this world.
If I came over for dinner, what sort of food would you serve?
Mindful Chef of course 😉 my favourite is the Teriyaki salmon.
Lastly, are there any specific ingredients you couldn’t live without?
Onions and lemons. There’s a lot you can do with onions and lemons.