image description December 12, 2012

5 Questions: Aihui Ong

5 Questions: Aihui Ong

Sharing Love Through Food

Aihui Ong founded Love With Food with a drive to help others – entrepreneurs striving to succeed in the food industry, underprivileged children in need of a meal and the growing number of at-home epicureans looking for new flavors. When you subscribe to Love With Food, you’ll receive a monthly box of gourmet treats, and in turn, they’ll donate a meal to Share Our Strength (to date they’ve donated more than 17,000 meals). Use the code AZVIP on any Love With Food subscription plans or gift plans to receive a $5 discount.

AndrewZimmern.com: Has food always been a big part of your life?

Aihui Ong: Of course! I was born and raised in Singapore which is also known as the food mecca of the world! My mother was also a great cook and I would spend time in the kitchen watching her cook. I only started cooking when I moved to the U.S. 13 years ago. I really missed my mom’s cooking. I would make lots of long-distance phone calls to get recipes from my mom.

AZ.com: What inspired you to create Love with Food?

AO: People often ask where I got the idea to start Love With Food. My journey began many years ago. With my then-husband I believed I had found my storybook ending: a lofty house in the suburbs, a successful engineering career and a comfortable income. But the truth was quite the opposite. A fork in the road lay before me: I could either continue down this unhappy path, or change my destiny. I said goodbye to both my marriage and career to embark on a globetrotting journey.

During my travels, I witnessed many who were living in poverty. Many people had neither clean water nor food, and this hard truth stuck with me. Twenty countries and twelve months later, I returned to America only to find out my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was only 33. I was never good with words, so I blurted out the first thought that came to me: “I’ll cook for you, because I only know how to love with food.” That’s how the company name came about.

Around the same time, another friend was having problems gaining greater distribution for her all-natural stir-fry sauce and had to shut down her operation. Infuriated, I was motivated to help passionate food producers avoid this common fate. By combining my passion for food and technology, I created a website to help food makers find alternative distribution and marketing channels and help consumers easily discover great gourmet food.

There are more than 16 million children in America that are at risk of hunger, that’s 1 in 5 children that suffer from hunger everyday. Love With Food is a great platform to help. For each box that is purchased, we donate a meal to food banks all across the country to help combat childhood hunger. One box. One meal. Helping others has grown to become Love With Food’s mission.

AZ.com: How does Love With Food work? What type of products should subscribers expect?

AO: Love With Food is the easiest way to discover what’s tasty, delivered to your door for only $10/month! Every month, members will receive a curated box of unique, hard-to-find tasty bites which varies based on seasonal themes. Say goodbye to boring grocery selections and HELLO to a monthly surprise. There are times when we join forces with celebrities to help fight childhood hunger. For example, we had Amy Roloff of Little People, Big World on TLC curate our Thanksgiving box.

Our members get to sample different products each month, earn points by leaving feedback and enjoy exclusive discounts to all full-sized products featured in the box.

AZ.com: What have been some of your most popular products?

AO: Our goal is to help our members discover unique products every month, products that are not commonly found in regular grocery stores. Some of our best sellers are:

AZ.com: How do you hope the company will grow over the next five years?

AO: We have one goal – to reinvent how consumers discover and fall in love with food and together, we can help eradicate childhood hunger in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Even a small compassionate act of donating a meal can change someone’s life. We aim to donate more than one million meals in the next five years. We hope when people think of Love With Food, they’ll think of us as a fun way to help them fall in love with food and at the same time shower their love with food because they’ve made a difference.

AZ.com: What’s in your fridge?

AO: Every year, I grow my own tomatoes, rosemary and basil, so my fridge is always stocked with homemade oven-roasted tomato sauce (recipe here) and pesto (recipe here). These sauces are so versatile, great on pizzas, sandwiches or with pasta. I love dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao. Right now, you’ll find Dark Chocolate Truffle Piglets by Hagensborg and Brix Wine Pairing chocolates in my fridge.

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