Maddie Purcell of Fyood Kitchen wants you to play with your food. Participants in Fyood's "Iron Chef meets Paint Night" events are encouraged to improvise, get creative, and trust themselves as they create sweet and savory dishes using a basket of mystery ingredients chosen by Maddie herself. Fyood's events, held at Fork Food Lab and all over the state of Maine, are messy, lively, and tons of fun. We sat down with Maddie for an interview, and asked her to bring an item that has been essential to her crazy foodie journey.
What was your first job?
I was a camp counselor at Bowdoin Day Camp in Brunswick!
How did you get involved with food work?
My parents started food internet businesses when I was little. There was one called Ucook.com, and it was the first website to catalog recipes online and let you search by which ingredients you had. So I’ve been around food forever, but not in a restaurant setting. Now, I just love eating. I watched a lot of chopped one year, I spent a lot of time cooking with friends, and realized this is what I wanted to do.
What did you bring in to share with us? Why?
I brought one of our mystery baskets. We put 4 mystery ingredients that participants have to use with their dish. It helps people start to think creatively. A lot of the time when we’re cooking, we’re using our imaginations, but we think of it in a sort of routine, chore-oriented way too often. This inspires you to cook more adventurously and use your imagination.
What motivates you to continue and grow your business?
The feedback from participants in terms of how much fun they have and also that it changes the way they think about food and cooking a little bit. People will tell me they took things home from the grocery store that they wouldn’t have used before. One participant said he plates his dinners at home differently because he got feedback at Fyood that his dish needed more artistic quality. A lot of people come into Fyood events a little intimidated, which I actually like because that means they’re challenging themselves. However, 96% of dishes at events come out well or really well, so it inspires a confidence in people. It’s an empowering experience to share.
Who are some food entrepreneurs that you admire?
There are a lot! At Fork it’s inspiring to be around people who have started distributing widely but also the people who are finding innovative ways to grow their business, like Chris Carr.
What’s your go-to weeknight dinner?
I guess it would be a stir-fry with a bunch of vegetables, egg on it, and some noodles maybe.
Where do you like to eat in Maine?
Everywhere. My favorites are Pai Men and Miyake, Boda, Izakai Minato is bomb, and Ramen Suzukiya. Also, my friends’ kitchens!