I recently had the opportunity to speak with the famous Ashley Koff, who is an incredibly talented RD out in California. Ashley runs her own business where she sees patients, teaches and also consults with companies, helping make ‘Nutrition for Optimal Health and Way of Life For All.’ Ashley was truly a delight to speak with and she shared so much of her incredible knowledge for nutrition, food, products and life in general. Below, Ashley answers some questions about her thriving business, her day-to-day schedule and her inspirations.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
It was really a convergence of several different experiences. I worked in advertising for a major ad agency after college and my client was a global food marketer. Part of what I learned was that the logos on the packaging were often paid for – sometimes they cost a lot – and that seemed like a conflict to me for consumers who thought a product had “earned” a certain stamp. Other experiences included my work with clients, teaching healthcare practitioners, and being a resource for the media – I realized that they all were asking me different versions of the same question – “What products should I buy / can I trust.” So I decided to “approve” products by researching them (their ingredients, marketing messages, their sourcing and business practices), where I was not / am not paid for the approval, so that all these different groups could know what I believe to be the better options.
Tell me about your typical day as the Ashley Koff.
There’s no such thing. I am writing this on a plane to Australia to see chia seeds being harvested and yesterday I was in Beverly Hills seeing a few patients before I did a video on the set of HBO’s Big Love showing which AKA products (and why) we brought in as part of the “AKA Craft Services Makeover” project and I also reviewed notes from a chapter in my upcoming book (Fully Charged: A 3 Step Guide for Mom Energy) and spoke with a producer and physician about possibly being involved with their new television show. The day before that I was in NYC for Good Morning America Health and dining at my favorite Blue Hill. Life is anything but typical – and I’m grateful for that.
What was your inspiration for starting your own company?
I’ve started lots of companies in my life. My kid’s camp that I created for my fellow neighborhood kids when I was 10 probably inspired me because I got to a) hang out with friends, b) come up with different projects, and c) make money. In terms of inspirations for starting my own company as a dietitian? I think that had a lot to do with not being able to commit to working in anyone area – I have had so many different consulting projects that I didn’t want to have to choose – so I created a company that would let me do different things all the time.
What is your favorite recipe?
I’m not a recipe follower – and even the ones in my cookbook I change every time I make them.
What is your favorite meal to cook (and eat)?
This question and the next are like choosing between your children or family members or picking a favorite song. Can’t do it because it is so mood dependent – I love steaming broccoli and preparing it with hot sauce and hemp seeds…but I also love making a sustainable seafood paella… and then there are the nectarines or white peaches that I stuff with my spiced nut mix… and I love making creative salads… no way, can’t choose
What is your favorite restaurant?
See above – it would be so hard to pick a favorite. But in Venice it’s Axe or Shima, in Culver City it’s Akasha or Tender Greens, in Beverly Hills it’s Ammo or Lucques or Urth Caffe… around the world it’s Le Pain Quotidien… in NYC it’s Candle 79, GustOrganics, Blue Hill, 15 East, The Savoy – oh there’s no way I could pick a favorite!
What is one kitchen tool that you couldn’t live without?
Toss up… a great pan… my knife… my water filtration system.
How would you describe your cooking technique?
I describe my style as IKEA-style – some assembly required – which means that I love to take different ingredients and toss them all together… sans recipe. Experimental.
What do you see in the future for Ashley Koff?
I want to keep bringing my business to different arenas where food products are being purchased and consumed – and where we can swop out the less healthy for the healthIER while delivering the same if not better taste.
Describe your kitchen at home.
It’s stocked with different seeds, oils, salts, utensils, some wines (that have been brought over), grains and legumes, protein powders, in the fridge if I’ve been home there are wonderful organic delights from Rawesome, frozen organic vegetables, coconut water kefir, new products waiting to be evaluated, supplements that I take daily, and a quote on my cupboard blessing the space and food produced there.
Do you consider yourself to be more of a cook or a baker?
I’m not a baker so by default I will say cook.
What is your best kitchen advice?
Make it yours… your energy.
What inspires your recipes?
A passion for sensual pleasure (taste, smell, texture, visual appeal etc), and the knowledge that great food means never compromising on taste or health.
Did you always have a passion for food growing up as a child and throughout your adolescence?
I think so… a funny thing(s) happened on the way to being a dietitian – I enjoyed food, I had really bad food (Columbus, Ohio is the testing ground for a lot of the nation’s fast foods and the ’70s-’80s were especially big for that), I bagged other people’s foods (and graduated to being a cashier), I clumsily served foods (and found out I was better in managerial positions that weren’t dependent on steady hands and feet), and personally, I tried diet foods (Snackwell’s, anyone?), I tried being a vegan (processed soy foods, anyone?) and like many adolescents / college students / first jobs out of college workers, I tried not eating foods (coffee and cocktails, anyone?) all to learn that I love high quality ingredients and different tastes – so I became a qualitarian and that sums up my passion for food and health today.
What is always in your pantry?
Teas… in case mom and dad pop in for a visit.
Desert island cookbook?
One that has a lot of pages and is on paper that burns easily – I think it gets cold at night on most desert islands and I wouldn’t be following a cookbook recipe were I to stranded or choosing to be there.
I want to thank Ashley for such a wonderful interview. It was such a pleasure to speak with her and I greatly appreciate her time. Ashley, keep up the great work… I am looking forward to meeting you this fall.