Episode 26: Tessa Cook: Co founder of Olio: The Food Sharing App

My guest today is Tessa Cook

Tessa is the co founder of Olio the free food sharing app.

Olio was launched back in February 2015 by Tessa and her co founder Sasha Celestial-One. The two founders met at business school in California. They launched the app just a few months after having the idea and gave themselves a year to make it work agreeing that if it hadn’t taken off by then they would go back to their day jobs.

Tessa is a farmer’s daughter and grew up on farm where she learnt the value of food from a very young age and became passionate about food waste. Before launching Olio, Tessa worked in various managing director roles across retail, media and the financial services.

The idea for Olio came to her in a moment of inspiration and was a genuine lightbulb moment. One of those moments most people only dream of, where the idea seems so obvious you cant believe it hasn’t been done before.

After teaming up with her business partner Saasha, the two wasted very little time and launched the app just 4 months later. Fast forward 2 ½ years and they now have 330,000 people using their app and over 15,000 volunteers helping them with their mission.

I think this is a really inspiring listen and you cant fail to learn something from Tessa’s story.  She recommend the book, “The Lean StartUp” by Eric Ries which I can recommend too and there are some great podcast recommendations in there for entrepreneurs, including one of my favbourites, “How I Built This” with Guy Raz.

I love that Tessa talked of bubble and squeak, which is no where near as popular as it should be, and such a good dish when you are doing a fridge raid but still want something warming and delicious. Her triple choice of sandwiches was right up my street. A chip buttie, a bacon butie and a boiled egg sandwich…it doesn’t get more British than that!

I love that Tessa cooked for all the guests at her wedding. Such a lovely thing to do –  I wonder if I should attempt that too?? She made a delicious veggie filled lasagne and a really great sounding lime and ginger cheesecake which sounded easy and delicious: a winning combination.

I think it is Nigella Lawson’s mother who celebrated a second Christmas on Midsummer’s Eve and I think it’s the most lovely idea and one that I might actually adopt too. How fun would that be? Tessa seemed enamoured with the idea anyway as her final desert island dish was an easy one for her to make as she loves a traditional Christmas lunch. Very apt for this time of year, and we didn’t even plan it!

What wasn’t quite so traditional was Tessa’s way of having Christmas pudding. She has it with brandy butter. So far, so traditional. Then she adds golden syrup which is unusual but I can definitely get on board with. Then! She tops that with a generous drizzle of white sauce. A white sauce made with butter and flour and milk….very unusual!

I loved her idea of freezing the smoothies into lollies for the children (and for the adults) and adding greek yoghurt to the smoothies is a great shout. I am beign honest when I say I don’t think I’ve met a bad smoothie which does make them rather fun to make as you know you can bung things in, use up left overs and it will taste great!

Desert Island Dish:

Full Christmas lunch – with all the trimmings

Homemade Christmas pudding with brandy butter, golden syrup and then white sauce (!)

Luxury item: Collection of Encyclopedias

Have you seen the recipe inspired by Tessa’s desert island dishes? Click here.

Thank you for listening, and subscribing. Don’t forget to leave a review as it gives me a little boost and I will see you same time next week for another episode of Desert Island Dishes.


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