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  • Writer's pictureShirley Owens

Why You Should Bring Back Better Foods to the Table with Justine Reichman

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

“You shouldn't discount what you love doing. It's so important to integrate that into what you do no matter what people say.” -Justine Reichman

The marriage of passion and business is one of the joys of life. But it’s an opportunity that not everyone is willing to take. If you want to start your own Passion Business, what are the things you need? In this episode, we learn valuable lessons on building your start-up with Justine Reichman, Founder of NextGenChef, a community that provides resources, expert advice, and connections for entrepreneurs. These are the Essential Ingredients needed for success. Justine also talks about why we need to be more aware of the food we eat, what benefits do fresh and local produce offer, and how regenerative practices can help the market provide affordable, accessible, and healthier products. Convenience foods have proved themselves lacking in many ways. In fact, they even create more problems than solutions. As a result of this growing awareness, people are in constant search of better foods. You can do something to bring this trend back to society! Join today’s conversation and learn how you can deepen your impact.


02:03 NextGenChef Lunch and Learns

08:09 What is Better Food?

14:08 More Than Food

19:58 Benefits of Fresh and Local Foods

21:13 Don’t Discount on Yourself





What’s for dinner? Join @SfbaldwinOwens and @NextGenChef in a filling conversation about the benefits of better foods, regenerative practices, and tips for passion business!


  • 12:15 “They're not creating our digestive issues. We're having them as a result of.” -Justine Reichman

  • 12:44 “We're not focusing on better foods. And that's something that we're all in search of.” -Shirley Owens

  • 14:50 “It's important to eat well. It makes a difference. What we eat changes the way we think and feel.” -Justine Reichman

  • 21:13 “You shouldn't discount what you love doing. It's so important to integrate that into what you do no matter what people say.” -Justine Reichman

  • 23:10 “It's important that people understand and have gratitude for the fact that we're giving them all of our mistakes and information that we did so that they can do it earlier.” -Shirley Owens

  • 23:27 “We are who we are because of what we've gone through.” -Shirley Owens

Connect With Justine:

Justine Reichman is the CEO and Founder of NextGenChef. If you want to scale your business and fast, NextGenChef is the perfect place to find the right place to find the resources and make the connections you need to take your business to the next level. Justine is a social entrepreneur and philanthropist. She is a passionate advocate for affordable, quality foods and a better food system that both serve the planet and the people living in it for generations to come.

Connect with Justine:

Connect with NextGenChef:

Watch it Live!


Shirley Owens: My guest today is Justine Reichman. Justine is the founder of NextGenChef. Justin says that she considers eating healthy is a basic human right, where she says we're empowering the next generation of culinary innovators dedicated to regenerative practices and making nutritious food more affordable. Her San Francisco based platform supports socially minded entrepreneurs with the resources they need to launch businesses and begin creating greater access to quality food products. I want to welcome you, Justine, and I think today is going to be such a different podcast. We've talked a lot, and I feel like food is such an important part of every single thing we do online, right?

Justine Reichman: We meet new people, we bake bread over it.

Shirley Owens: Honestly, for me, it's so intimate, food, eating, date nights, I always want to go eat food or lunch with girlfriends or business meetings. I feel like we probably should have a meal right now.

Justine Reichman: I agree.

Shirley Owens: Oh, tell me you have such a diverse, like interesting background of everything that you have created. I want you to start somewhere, start in Mexico, start wherever you want to start, and kind of lead me to where you are right now.

Justine Reichman: Okay. Well, thank you so much, really, for having me today. I'm super excited to be here. And it's great to get to know you as well. I'm always excited to meet the podcast hosts as well, because you also have had an interesting career. And I'm super inspired by what you've created, as well.

Shirley Owens: Thank you.

Justine Reichman: I appreciate you for having me. So my career started long before Mexico City, but I feel like this portion of my career and life began in Mexico City. Of course, not having a visa led me to investigate new options and really tap into what I was passionate about, and what I wanted to do in life. And that was focused around food. I was literally on the corner of my house on the block where I lived in Mexico City getting my hair done, and I was trying to speak Spanish, which I did not do well because French was my second language. And that was not good at that, regardless. And as I'm trying to say necesita and [inaudible], the guy says to me: "Do you need some help?" I said: "Yeah, I don't speak Spanish very well." So one thing led to another and the guy asked me what I did. I had told him that I was from New York, and that I was there taking pictures, and that I was with my partner and he was working. And he asked me if I would come take some pictures. He worked for the Cmr group which had a foundation called Fundacion Cmr, which provided resources for lower income families in Mexico City. I said: "That sounds amazing." So I went with them about three and a half hours away to Mexico City. Mind you, I had never met these people before. I met them for about 10 minutes, had lunch with them at the capital grille because they owned the franchise for it, but I didn't really know that.

Shirley Owens: Sounds like something I would do.

Justine Reichman: I had a little leap of faith, they look nice. They spoke English, taught me a little Spanish and helped me get my hair done. So they picked me up in a little small sporty car. And I tell you this because it was three of us, and the lady comes dressed in her heels and nice clothing, because in Mexico, everyone looks dressed as opposed to where I live in California where they don't really get dressed in Marin County. And I am dressed to, but they neglected to tell me that where we were going, we would then switch to another car, which was a bigger car, and then we'd switch to a third car which was a pickup truck, and everybody would go from heels to boots. And then we go walking up the mountains where the donkeys were, to these families that were in these little houses that they kept so nicely where they were preparing food for us in their wood burning stoves with the vegetables that they had grown already organically, that was supported by the NGO, that was funding this whole program that they were taking me to see.

Shirley Owens: Wow.

Justine Reichman: So they took me on a tour and they cooked me food. I was really inspired. So this NGO works with them to provide resources for healthy and organic produce, and education so that they could grow organic produce for themselves, and equally have enough to sell so that they can become self-sustaining. So there's more to that whole story, but I will save that for another time. I'll move fast forward to that, that inspired me when we came back to California to say, what am I going to do now? And I said, okay. Well, maybe I'll have a cooking competition because I was inspired by these families in Mexico, to support them, that we're creating these amazing meals, and have a recipe competition, and I did that. I said, I got a lot of hobbies and I wasn't really into hobbies. I really wanted to make an impact. So I took this competition, and I decided, what I really want to do is support food and beverage entrepreneurs, and create local ecosystems, and create more jobs for people better for your food. So basically, I created NextGenChef. And NextGenChef was a community for food and beverage entrepreneurs to connect with mentors, and resources, and thought leaders so that they can build better for you food businesses, create better for you food systems, create greater access for all. Not just lower income families, but everyone by building better for you food. So I built this online platform, I built this community through lunch and learns, mentorship, and connections online. We connected these food and beverage entrepreneurs with these thought leaders as mentors and resources so they could get where they wanted just a little bit quicker, so that they could connect with the resources they need to be able to build better for you food businesses. And so when COVID hits, we then pivoted a little like everyone did. I'm sure you did as well, right? So we took that in person community, put it online, made a much more robust offering, took those in person talks, put them online, still kept the community quite small so that people could feel like they were connecting. Because I'm sure you've been to a lot of talks where people want like hundreds of people there.

Shirley Owens: Yeah, for sure.

Justine Reichman: But how many conversations do you get out of that?

Shirley Owens: Yeah, not very many.

Justine Reichman: In the takeaway, you don't feel like you connected one on one. I really wanted to replicate that. So we kept it small. But what we did was we shared those talks online with social media so that more people could see it and get the information. And yet, we could still have that connection for the small group of our members.

Shirley Owens: So tell me a little bit about like, what does better food mean? Because I know you talk about them growing their own food organically in Mexico. I went to Africa one time, and we went for a few weeks. And at that time, right before I left, I was gluten free. Trying to eat super healthy, have some allergies, or intolerances to certain foods, and then we got to Africa and we were put on these small planes. We flew out to have a safari, like a private Safari in Botswana. So we were in the middle of nowhere, it was like you went to a store. We didn't have phones, we didn't have any kind of service and we were dropped off on a runway where they had to clear the lions off before we got there. And then taken by these little jeeps, and there are only a few people in this camp. We stayed in these tents, and it was just interesting to me because I was starving. We're out like exploring Africa, we come back, but it wasn't like I had all these choices of food. So I ate everything. I ate the bread, I ate the dairy, I ate everything. And it was for one thing, like my mouth had this completely different experience because the food tasted better. And then the other thing is I didn't get a stomachache. I didn't feel yucky after I ate. So then when I got home, I started telling people that and then I would hear stories of people who, I actually had a niece that lived in Africa. We had seen her before we came home and she was telling me how her whole family had these horrific allergies. And then once they got to Africa, they went away. So when I think about better food, I think about what's going on in our food here in the US that makes us not feel the same exact way. I had the same experience in Scotland and Ireland where I could eat bread, and yeah, so we can eat food and be totally fine. But it's honestly different foods, the bread is different. So speak into that a little bit.

Justine Reichman: Well, I have the same questions. It's those questions that inspired me to really put together NextGenChef and now Essential Ingredients, the podcast, because I'm not an expert in these things. I wanted to learn. And equally, I want to understand what I'm eating from soil to shelf, and what I'm buying off the shelf, and what I'm buying at the table and putting on my table for me, my family and my friends. I want to understand why it is that I can sit in a café in Paris and eat a croissant, and it can be okay. Here, I can't eat bread, and sugars, and onion soup and all these different things. And I was dumbfounded and I'm like, I don't understand. So I wanted to bridge the gap, not just for me, but for the businesses and consumers, which is one of the inspirations for NextGenChef and Essential Ingredients. So I bring together the thought leaders and the businesses on both sides from farming, talking about regenerative farming on the differences in what goes in the soil, and what they're building, and why it's different so that we can understand and hopefully make a change here. Maybe we can have that same impact. I'm still on the mission to answer that question. Honestly, I'm being, to answer that question completely. We had a guy Daniel Baertschi the other day on our podcast talking about regenerative farming. And I continue to bring people on so that we can start to bridge the gap between the different continents, to understand the changes in our soil and in our farming so that we can understand what, the US has certain rules, and some of these rules are for our protection. But I think that some of them are causing us to have different issues, digestive issues, and put different things in our food that create the digestive issues. Because they're not creating our digestive issues, we're having them as a result of, right? But it's those kinds of questions that sparked this interest in me, or one of the interests in me to build this and to create the platform to have these conversations. I'm going to have more interviews so that hopefully, I can come back and answer that question for you.

“They're not creating our digestive issues. We're having them as a result of.” -Justine Reichman

Shirley Owens: Yeah, or we'll just send people to your podcast for that question.

Justine Reichman: I think so.

Shirley Owens: Your podcast is Essential Ingredients, right?

Justine Reichman: It is.

Shirley Owens: Which I love. I love that you're out there trying to find the answer, because I think that's just so important. That's why I kind of felt like this is a different podcast today because we're not really focusing on one thing. One of the things is better foods, right? And that's something that we're all in search of, especially here in the US, I think that's something that we're all in search of. The other thing is, you're a woman, you started this business from a passion that you had from something that sparked in you. And that's something I like to talk about too on my show is, whether your man or woman, just going with your gut, going with your dream, going with a whim, going with somebody in the middle of Mexico in three different cars, by the third car getting into a truck I'd be like, am I getting kidnapped? Where am I going? I've had similar experiences. People are like, why would you even do that? And you just went with your gut, and it led you to this beautiful place with yummy food. So tell me a little bit about that part of you that I think would be very inspiring for my guests. What keeps you, it's not like you're a nutritionist and that's your job. It's not like you have all the answers in this, but you just keep launching these businesses and these platforms, and it's all coming from a passion. So tell me a little bit about that.

“We're not focusing on better foods. And that's something that we're all in search of.” -Shirley Owens

Justine Reichman: I really think my passion, I've connected my passion in my superpower. I'm good at connecting people, and I think that I'm good at connecting with people. I have a real passion for supporting people and fixing problems, and I love food. I have a real passion for some people. We eat to live, yeah, we eat to live, I live to eat. I know it's a little overplayed, but I seriously do. For me, cooking a meal, I need people to open all over us. I love to eat. I think it's really important to eat well, and I think it makes a difference, and I believe that what I eat changes the way I think, feel. I can feel it in my body. I can feel it in how tired I'm tired, whether I have a headache, I can feel it in everything that I do, my focus. I think part of it is that I'm pretty in tune with my body. I think that I'm pretty alert to the immediate change. So ever since I was a little girl, my mother always said, you cannot have dairy, it makes you very congested. Ever since I was a little girl. So she was trying to shove tofutti in my face. As a little girl, who wants their mother to shove tofutti in their face? I mean, that was not today, they have much better alternatives like short ice cream, or van leeuwen, vegan ice cream, if you can't have eggs, and all these different things. But back then, they didn't have great alternatives. And now that they do have these great alternatives, I'm inspired to investigate these great alternatives to see what other great alternatives they are, and to share that with people. And equally, to let people know that by making the right choices, it can have a direct impact, both on how you feel, how you perform. I don't think that everyone out there understands the implications and how dramatic they can be.

“It's important to eat well. It makes a difference. What we eat changes the way we think and feel.”

Shirley Owens: Oh, I agree. I completely agree. Every single thing that we do, like my show and my job is all about, my show is about getting what you want. What I do in life, like my superpower is relationships, creating relationships with people. And even in all of that, food plays a part, like food is so important. I've interviewed a couple nutritionists on my show, my daughter's a nutritionist, I feel like we constantly have conversations about food. And I used to be the person who lives to eat, like all of my vacations were planned around food. I would dream about recipes, and I'd wake up and make them, I actually still do that. Everything was focused around food, and then I got a little older and less able to exercise. And then I have a nutritionist daughter, she just graduated with a nutrition degree. She also does fitness and she coaches people online on macros, and all this stuff that I'm just learning about. But it's interesting, because I feel like I'm more and more living to eat. I mean, eating to live. I kind of want to find a happy medium where I really enjoy everything that I'm eating, but I feel like I've had to cut out so many things that I don't enjoy it as much anymore. So it is so important to be able to do that. And then to be able to know that sometime in the future, we're going to have to be able to go to restaurants here, or be able to have food experiences where it's, maybe even like a law that they have to take certain things out of our foods. Oh, my god, it's kind of the direction you're moving in this entire movement on creating--

Justine Reichman: It's exactly what I want to do. I want to create a movement. My goal with NextGenChef is that people work towards local, healthy, regenerative, accessible, better for you foods. We have a stamp of approval that if your NextGenChef approved, you don't have to be all of them, but working towards it, and regenerative. And then people then demand it, and then people will have to be. And restaurants will demand it, oh, are you NextGenChef approved? And we all want to go, as you're saving. I mean, that's the dream. But I got to tell you, I've recently, not recently, but ever since the pandemic, and literally really only shop at the farmers market. I feel like there's less touch points, less people touching it, coughing on it, less people coughing and then touching. So I go there, but what I've learned is that with the herbs, it's much more fun, and there's less allergens and less things that I'm allergic to that I can cook with. So I can cook with so many things, I'm not cutting as much out. Does that make sense?

Shirley Owens: Oh, for sure.

Justine Reichman: I don't feel like missing as much. And being much more creative, I'm thinking out of the box. I mean, I did just buy a new cookbook recently. And if you go through cookbooks, obviously you're like, Oh, I can't eat that. I can't eat this. But if you're just sort of winging it a little and you're buying what's local, what's around at that moment because it's fresh and local, odds are probably most of it. It's local, and you're buying there, you have less waste and you just eat it all. So with that, I've been quite inventive. It's been fun. Made a lot of, not pesto, a curry. Freeze, although I haven't frozen it yet, but it is easy to freeze on hold.

Shirley Owens: I might need to post some of your recipes on my--

Justine Reichman: I'll share my favorites.

Shirley Owens: That would be awesome. So okay, we've talked about food, we're talking about business, talk about experiences and passion, what is something that you could leave our guests today, one word of advice. You get to choose whether it's business, food, passion, whatever. But what word of advice would you give to our listeners that they could start today to move towards getting what they want?

Justine Reichman: I think you shouldn't discount what you love doing. I think it's so important to integrate that into what you do and you shouldn't discount it no matter what people say.

“You shouldn't discount what you love doing. It's so important to integrate that into what you do no matter what people say.” -Justine Reichman

Shirley Owens: I love that. I think--

Justine Reichman: It's one really super important. It's as important as anything else that you do.

Shirley Owens: And then I always ask this question, just for the fun of it, is there anything that you regret or would do over in your life?

Justine Reichman: Is there anything that I would regret over in my life? I look back, and I am so grateful that I've had the chance to live in multiple countries and travel. Sometimes, I wish I would have figured things out a little bit earlier, because I'm having so much fun doing what I'm doing. I really do. I'm so happy doing what I'm doing. I wish I could have figured out this a long time ago, this would have been so fun. But I'm really happy. I mean, I've got to live in London for a few years back and forth. I got to have a variety of experiences. I got to live in Mexico City. I might have had a more formal job for a couple years, might have been interesting because I think it would have set me up earlier on to be able to have the skills and the foundation to be able to do what I'm doing maybe earlier, because I got to it a little bit later. I mean, I'm not a spring chicken.

Shirley Owens: I love it. I find that there's like two answers, pretty much. The most two common answers. One is, I wish I would have figured this out earlier. And two is, I wouldn't change anything because that's where I got me to how I got to where I am now.

Justine Reichman: I just said what everybody else says? That's not interesting.

Shirley Owens: You basically, it's so interesting because I think that it's really important. It's like something that I want my listeners to know is that for one thing, when we have all this, read all these resources now, we have podcasts, we have people listening to us talk, you have podcast I've heard of, and I think that it's important that people understand and have gratitude for the fact that we're giving them all of our mistakes and information that we did so that they can do it earlier. So that won't be it. And also to realize that wherever we are in life is just perfect. And the reason we are who we are is because of what we've gone through, so I think those two messages are so huge. And it is really why I asked them because I think that it's just a very common thing. And any person that is successful, it's like those two things. I wish I would have done it sooner, or I am who I am because of everything that I went through. So I love it.

“It's important that people understand and have gratitude for the fact that we're giving them all of our mistakes and information that we did so that they can do it earlier.” -Shirley Owens

Justine Reichman: So I fit right in that mold.

“We are who we are is because of what we've gone through.” -Shirley Owens

Shirley Owens: It's perfect. Well, I don't know that you fit into any mold, or mold to fit into. That's kind of another huge thing. We'll have to talk about that on a different show sometime.

Justine Reichman: Okay. Well, I hope to have you on my show too.

Shirley Owens: I will, for sure, be on there. And please tell me how we can get in touch with you. Give me your website, your podcasts, all that information so we can share.

Justine Reichman: Wonderful, I will. So my podcast is Essential Ingredients, and you can find that on the website. You can download and subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, all the regular channels, it's called essential ingredients. NextGenChef is And for all of our listeners here today, if we do have any food and beverage entrepreneurs that want to join the community, we are offering a special $10 off, our premium membership for our listeners. Don't forget the Let's Connect code, and that is for our yearly membership which you can find on the websites. Always reach out to me if you download our app, which is NextGenChef, and it's available for Android and Apple, you can connect directly with me on our app. It's similar to LinkedIn, but tailored just for food or beverage entrepreneurs. And I'd be happy to chat with you there. Thank you so much, Shirley, for having me.

Shirley Owens: Of course, you're so relatable, and it's been so fun. I know that anyone that reaches out to you will love you. So thanks so much for being here.

Justine Reichman: Thanks so much.

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