2016 TINSLEY PORTER MELOY
FOUNDER & HEAD CHEF, DICED
When you give voice to your curiosity and ask a lot of questions, you increase your likelihood of connecting with potential mentors and partners. That’s just what Tinsley did, after she was diagnosed with Celiac and had to learn how to survive in the gluten-free world. Not only did she successfully navigate that challenge, but she decided to make it easier for others to navigate (and tastier to eat). DICED is her 100% gluten free meal delivery kit service, and it’s breaking down barriers to both eating and cooking gluten free.
When did you know that you wanted to work in food?
I was always that weird kid who loved to throw parties – be it cocktail, dinner, or otherwise. I starting asking for serving pieces for my birthday when I was in high school (weirdo alert!). I just LOVE to entertain. But I’m not talking about pizza and solo cups with wine (not that there is anything wrong with that…) I wanted to have passed hors d’oeuvres, a make-your-own pizza station, and plated desserts. And everything cooked by yours truly! I felt the happiest when I was cooking for people I loved in my own home.
It was my 24th birthday when I announced to my parents that I wanted to have a sit-down dinner at home, and I wanted to cook it all. It was my first birthday after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and I wanted to make a gluten-free meal that would make people say, ‘Wow, this is gluten-free?’ When I pulled it off, I knew that I wanted to work in food – and gluten-free food to be exact.
How did you get your current good food job?
It’s a pretty nutty story. I started at my parent company as a Prep Cook Intern. I constantly asked the CEO of the company to teach me about food business – how it works, what the organizational chain are like, what are the margins you aim for, and how to execute them, etc. I wanted to start DICED as a small company out of my house, where I prepped meals for a few families and delivered them a few times a week. Then I was given the opportunity of a lifetime – the CEO of this company believed in me enough to say, “Do you want to start this with me?” I said yes, and here we are! Crazy, right?
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
I think every little thing I’ve done has prepared me for this. From my first job scooping ice cream, I learned customer service. From my consulting job, I learned organizational systems and how to identify problems in the chain. From my internship with a Broadway General Manager, I learned that if you ask for opportunities they might be given to you (if you never ask, you’ll never have them). From my time bartending, I learned speed, precision, and multitasking. When I take a minute and look back, every step along my journey has prepared me for this good food job.
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome in pursuing your Good Food Job dream?
Honestly? Believing in myself. So many people don’t try because they are afraid of failing. And you can truly be your own worst enemy. Pretty much any outside obstacle you can find a way around, but when you’re battling yourself, it’s a constant struggle. I have to remind myself regularly that I’m creating a good product, and it is meeting an important need !
Name one positive thing that a former employer taught you that you continue to appreciate?
One thing that a former boss taught me is that every person that works for your company is important. From the person who washes dishes to the person who signs the checks, and that they ALL need to be told by you as a leader that they are important. Value each and every one of them and let them know that regularly. It promotes a healthy work environment and the overall culture of your company will be much more positive.
What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?
I think the greatest opportunities in food right now lie in the delivery market. People LOVE instant gratification. That’s why we do next day delivery at DICED. Look at all of the apps for delivery. I can now pay people to get my groceries on demand! It makes my life easier and makes me more effective as a gastrognome. Anything that brings me food on demand is a winner in my book and these innovative delivery companies are going to blow up – in a good way!
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
Travel! This is a huge, magical world, and I would happily work in exchange for travel opportunities.