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Ayesha Curry

Ayesha Curry heads a food-inspired empire

Her brand now includes a book, cooking show, restaurant, meal-kit service and a campaign to combat food waste

Mother, NBA wife and Food Network personality Ayesha Curry says she wants her kitchen to be a relaxed environment.

“It doesn’t need to be stuffy. I want to make it fun. I like to pour a little glass of wine, my husband will turn the music on — making it an event,” she said with a laugh.

She and her husband, two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, have welcomed the world into their kitchen and their lifestyle. This includes their two children and Ayesha Curry’s new business endeavors, all while Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors chase another NBA championship in the Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And it all started in 2002 as a church friendship.

Ayesha and Stephen met when Ayesha’s family joined the Central Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina. Retired NBA player Dell Curry and his wife, Sonya — along with their three young children, Stephen, Seth and Sydel — were members of the church as well. After Stephen and Ayesha’s friendship blossomed into a relationship, the two wed in 2011. They now have two daughters: the famous Riley, 4, and their newest addition, Ryan, who will turn 2 in July.

Ayesha Curry’s branding journey started with a blog. Her Instagram account grew to more than 5 million followers. She followed up with a cookbook last year. Then there is a pop-up restaurant; her Food Network show, now in its second season; a meal-kit subscription service; an upcoming cookware line; and an initiative to help families become more conscious about food waste.

“It’s been such a dream come true for me because as a little girl, that’s what I would do, I would just watch people cook all day,” Curry, 28, told The Undefeated. “It’s so crazy for life to come full circle and for me to have this opportunity. It’s been a great experience for me. I love it so much.”

Growing up, she took a keen interest in cooking personalities such as Rachael Ray and Emeril Lagasse.

“I watched them, and I studied them, and I looked at their hands,” she said. “I definitely learned from my mom and my grandma. I come from a Jamaican family. That’s my background. The food is so full of flavor. There’s no other option for you but to know how to cook.

“I was always in the kitchen from a little girl … watching them … helping them. I’ve just fallen in love with food and cooking time and time again. I love it.”

Her book, The Seasoned Life: Food, Family, Faith, and the Joy of Eating Well, was released in September 2016. A month later, her new cooking show, Ayesha’s Homemade, premiered on the Food Network.

She recently launched a meal-kit delivery service, Homemade.

“We’re in our fifth week now with our meal kit,” Curry said. “We’re the only nationwide company that is catering to families. The main focus in the program is family. It’s about making it a weekly event. The whole goal is preparing a family meal at home. Positive response. People have been loving it so much.”

Homemade is developing an online community for subscribers, who will get weekly livestreaming access of her cooking.

“With the meal kit, for me it’s about helping people find that ease of life,” Curry said. “Even for myself, I created it because I needed something to help me at least once a week with dinner so that when I was coming home after a long day’s work I was having to worry about like where the food was coming from or having to stop in the grocery store. I know that one night a week everything’s done and I feel like, especially as millennials, we are looking for ways to have that ease of life because we all are so busy, and so that’s why I have the meal kits.

“Just having things in your life to have that ease of life is so important for me. I think that’s how I try and keep it all together.”

People who plan their meals typically have lower grocery bills and make fewer shopping trips, resulting in less wasted food.

“A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to cooking meals,” she said. “I have people ask me all the time. It’s saving time and it’s saving money.”

Curry partnered with chef Michael Mina to open International Smoke, a barbecue-themed restaurant that grew from a pop-up concept in Mina’s San Francisco space RN74, in 2016. It’s due to launch in June.

She is also concerned about food waste, a global problem that affects the environment, economy and food security. She recently partnered with Salvage Supperclub, an organization that raises awareness about food waste by encouraging in-home meal preparers to retain food they would usually throw out. The group says that the average American family wastes about $1,600 of food a year and that food is now the largest contributor to landfills.

In honor of Earth Month, Curry hosted her first Salvage Supperclub dinner in Los Angeles on April 19. Attendees enjoyed a seven-course tasting menu featuring ingredients that were perfectly fine but otherwise would have ended up in the landfill. The event was held in a repurposed dumpster to encourage a conversation about the impact of food waste on the environment.

Curry said she wants to help families love food more and waste it less to help them save money, time and the environment. “I want to figure out a way to not waste the food and turn it into to something cool,” Curry said. “I love that creative process.”

The Salvage Supperclub event hosted by Curry was in partnership with Glad. For the last two years, she has been working with Glad (the makers of food protection products) to raise awareness around the issue and harmful effects of food waste in the US. In fact, the company has an online food preservation database.

For example, if a food preparer purchases fresh ingredients to prepare a recipe, but doesn’t use all of an herb or the chicken, they can enter the ingredient into the database and instantly learn how to properly store it, to keep it fresh for longer whether in the fridge, freezer or counter top. The partnership was really an easy decision for Curry who has been a long-time Glad user and through her own work, she is committed to making families lives easier, especially in the kitchen, and helping them save time, money and the environment.

Curry’s busy lifestyle requires a lot of balancing, but she remains inspired.

“I think it’s a learning process for me still,” she said. “Having great women around me and knowing that the women around you are going to be realizing that I’m not alone. I’m never going to feel like I’m giving enough.”

Her advice to busy moms is to “do it headfirst, think about it later, know that everybody’s good, my husband’s happy. If the laundry’s not done, it’ll happen later. Don’t sweat the small stuff, basically. I think also figuring out ways to simplify your life is how you create that so-called balance.”

Kelley Evans is a digital producer at Andscape. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic Southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.