Gooder Podcast

BROUGHT TO YOU BY RETAIL VOODOO

CONTACT US TODAY ABOUT HOW WE CAN HELP BUILD YOUR BRAND

Culinary Resilience: Unveiling Success in the Food Industry with Holly Snyder

Senior Culinary Product Developer at Amazon

In this episode of Gooder, our host Diana Fryc engages in a captivating conversation with Holly Snyder, an accomplished senior culinary product developer at Amazon, renowned for her extensive expertise leading consumer research and development teams. Holly shares her remarkable journey, starting from her hands-on experience working on the line and in pastry at the prestigious Stars restaurant. She takes us through her entrepreneurial venture of creating a line of frozen meals for two, showcasing her innovation and culinary prowess.

The discussion delves into the challenges faced by women in the male-dominated food manufacturing industry, emphasizing the importance of asserting oneself and asking insightful questions. She also reflects on the profound impact of the 2008 financial crisis on her and her colleagues. Tune in for illuminating insights on the food business, branding, and leadership.

Today’s episode is hosted by Diana Fryc of Retail Voodoo, connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianafryc/

Key Takeaways

  • Epiphany after bankruptcy and desire for stability
  • Acknowledgement of Food Insecurity Issues
  • The Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis
  • Overcoming USDA inspection requirements and regulations
  • Empowering Women in the Food Manufacturing Industry
  • Embracing Curiosity and New Experiences
  • Importance of Loving What You Do
  • Passion and Purpose: Navigating Career Paths with Fulfillment
  • The Power of Love and Fulfillment in Professional Journeys
  • Lessons Learned: Insights and Personal Growth from Holly’s Journey
  • Resilience: Overcoming Obstacles on the Path to Success
  • Thriving in the Culinary World: Determination and Hard Work Unveiled

Quotes

“The exhilaration, the rush of energy, it’s truly incredible. You form this unique, sometimes dysfunctional, but tightly-knit family. Through thick and thin, you’re united, and that feeling is simply unparalleled.”- Holly Synder

“It’s remarkable to see that even now, there’s nothing in the market that truly compares to the revolutionary nature you’ve created in the freezer aisle.” – Diana Fryc

“Our journey led us in creating frozen meals that became a nationwide sensation, exceeding all expectations.”” – Holly Snyder

Chapters

00:00 | Introduction
00:26 | Unveiling Culinary Brilliance with Holly Snyder
05:49 | From Artistry to Culinary Passion
13:01 | Lessons from Prominent Restaurants
16:25 | Behind the Scenes: The Hidden Complexity of Pastry Chefs
19:40 | Navigating the Housing Crisis and Startup Life
20:59 | Discovering Stability in the Midst of Financial Crisis
25:51 | Nurturing Compassion: Supporting Children Through Food Insecurity
31:49 | Entrepreneurial Strategies: Mastering the USDA with Private Label Meals
36:04 | Empowering Women in Food Manufacturing: Securing a Seat at the Table
38:52 | Making a Difference: Honoring Leaders in Food Insecurity Relief
41:52 | Outro

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. A brand consultancy focused on building,growing and revitalizing brands in the food, beverage, health and wellness industries. If youare ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy thatgives your brand an advantage, please visit

https://retail-voodoo.com/contact set up a discovery call today.

Produced by Heartcast Media.
https://www.heartcastmedia.com/

Transcript

Diana Fryc:

 

Here’s a quick disclaimer. The views, statements, and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers. The statements are not intended to be product claims or medical advice.

 

Holly Synder:

 

It.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Hi, Diana. Fryc  here. I’m the host of the Gooder podcast, where I get to talk with the powerhouse women in the food, beverage, and wellness categories about the business of consumer packaged goods, branding, and leadership. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm providing strategic brand and design services for companies in the food, wellness, and beverage industries. Our clients include Starbucks, Kind, Rei, PepsiCo, High Key, and many other market leaders. So if your goal is to crush your competition by driving growth and disrupting the marketplace with new and innovative ideas, give us a call and let’s talk or take a quick peek at our website, retail.com. Okay. Super excited to introduce this next guest to you. You guys have eaten Holly Snyder’s food, and you’ve loved it. As a senior culinary product developer for Amazon, Holly is always thinking about what’s next on America’s plate. Her culinary journey took her from her artist’s mother’s kitchen, where every meal was an occasion, to working with groundbreaking chef Jeremiah Tower at the legendary San Francisco eatery Stars. All right. Through her  plus year career, Holly has led development and commercialization teams in consumer research, prototyping large scale pilots, and launch, while at Seattle startup Grace’s Kitchen. Woohoo. Going to talk about that in a minute. She pioneered the first frozen CPG home meal replacement, recognized by Food and Wine magazine as one of their tastes to try. She’s continued to develop and launch products for both startups and Fortune  companies, including Starbucks, Jamba Nestle, General Mills, Jenny Craig, Delta Airlines, and more. Holly’s culinary vision is inspired by her love of travel and history. She’s a dedicated mentor to women in the culinary industry and is proud of the kick ass teams she has led. I love that. Welcome, Holly. Nice to meet you.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Hi. Thank you so much. Really nice to meet you as well. Thanks for having me on.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes. And you are in Seattle, is that correct?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Correct. Yes, in my home in Seattle, which has been my home for about  years now.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Nice. I love that. Okay, so can I just tell you how excited I am to meet you? First of all, two reasons. My business partner, David, has shared some wonderful stories about working on the Grace’s Kitchen brand and from your innovations team to developing the whole brand in general. So that is really great. And then as I was doing my homework, I found out that you were working with my sister at SK Food Group. For over ten years I’ve been in that building. It’s bananas. What a small world.

 

Holly Synder:

 

I know. It’s a crazy small world. Yeah, she’s great. And, yeah, I’m surprised that there wasn’t a point where she took you back into the innovation kitchen to meet all of us.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

She did.

 

Holly Synder:

 

And where was all she did?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I don’t know. You were drinking. I don’t know. Maybe on holiday, probably. I’m not sure. I wonder if we did meet each other and it just clicked.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah. It could be such a small world. That’s great. It is.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I know. So what is super exciting for me, aside from the small world connections, is that I get to talk to a food technologist, a food scientist, a magician, and Willy Wonka. I don’t know how you describe yourself, but maybe you can tell. How do you describe yourself to people that maybe aren’t familiar in the industry? And what do you get to do all day?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah, it’s a great question because sometimes when you just say product developer, a lot of people don’t necessarily relate that to food. Honestly, I’m a culinary problem solver, really, on a day to day basis. I like to call food manufacturing a pirate ship. It’s really a hodgepodge of people that have gotten there via a lot of times, the road less traveled. Right. But in general, you solve problems starting from way back in the beginning of my career. How do you get it on a truck? How long can it sit on the shelf? How hot does it need to be? Just every day is a different set of problems. I’d like to think there’s a secret sauce, that there’s a little bit of magic. There’s definitely science there, but yeah, it’s pretty much solving problems for customers, for consumers.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Well, I’m curious, as I did my homework, I saw that you were a telecommunications student. Now, in your bio, you talked about a kitchen. So can you tell us a little bit? How did you get started? How did telecommunications get fit in the whole situation?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah, I don’t know. I think part of it was I never really thought I was going to go to college. So my parents were artists, and I say that that’s how they made their living. They were self employed artists, a sculptor and a painter. So we had kind of an unusual childhood. My mother was impossibly talented, and that included the kitchen. I think at some point I thought I was going to be an actor. I don’t know. When you’re , you don’t know what you’re going to do. So that seemed to be a bucket of study that made sense at the time. But unlike my sister, college was never really my focus. I think my parents said, whatever you choose to do, make sure you love it, because you’re going to be doing it for a long time. And they didn’t make a lot of money, certainly, as artists, but they loved what they did, and that somehow stuck with me. But it was a random series of events from Cooking With My Mother being weaned on Julia Child using my sister’s love to tell the story of me taking Michigan as one of the first states that had deposits on beer bottles. She would have a party, I would take the beer bottles, get the money and throw a dinner party. In high school, I was a nerd.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Wow.

 

Holly Synder:

 

I was a food nerd before I knew that was such a thing, but ended up on the West Coast, had a clothing company that went away and kind of fell into food and realized, oh, this is what you’re supposed to be doing. These are your people. This is the pirate ship that you belong on. You either go to the military or cooking school. Right. It’s like that’s the type of people who end up certainly in the restaurant business. Yeah, it was a road less traveled. For sure.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

It was the road less traveled. Well, what you do now is a form of art, if you ask me. I mean, you have to know the science. But if anybody knows artists, there’s a lot of science in art, especially if you’re painting. You have to know how all of the or sculpting, I mean, all of those things require math and require all sorts of science. So not surprising that you are an innovator. Artists are innovators and you’re an innovator. I can see that for sure. So tell us a little bit about what the early days of your food career or your food development career were like.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah, started in the restaurant business, kind of fell into that, loved it. And then, as one does, you slowly find other things that make sense for you. I had sort of done all the things I wanted in the restaurant and thank God for recruiters right. Who randomly calls in and says, hey, by the way, and there was a job at Whole Foods. I was living in San Francisco at the time, and at the time Whole Foods was running a lot of commissaries across the country and this was for baking. And at that point I had been trained as a pastry chef and they were looking to kind of upscale what they were offering. The commissary had been in the red for quite a bit of time and they were looking for someone to kind of come in. And I was like, yeah, that sounds great. Sure, I’ll do that.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Why not?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Well, I struggle between the impostor syndrome and just say yes. Just say yes. Sure, I can do that. Absolutely. So I spent quite a bit of time there. Ended up in the Seattle area for reasons I won’t bore you with, but ended up here. And then sort of went into the startup business, Grace’s Kitchen, which I know. We’ll talk about kinetics and then from there into really large scale manufacturing. Like millions of products a day the size of manufacturing, which is SK Food group. And then from there to transition to Amazon just about a year ago.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

So this is new. I can imagine. Well, SK Food group, I think externally might feel a little for those that don’t know, SK Food Group might feel like it’s maybe a traditional corporation, but my understanding is it’s very innovative. I know that there was just lots of thinking going on all the time. The environment. In regards to the pace of work, is it similar, would you say, the two SK versus Amazon?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Innovation is something that happens during frugal times. Sometimes. I think the best innovation happens during frugal times.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I agree.

 

Holly Synder:

 

And it happens during the wealthy times. Right. It’s kind of a beer and champagne sort of business. Right. So, yeah, in regards to that, no different. And the problems are always the same. Right. We like to think that different brands and different things have different problems. They don’t. It’s all about what are you going to put on a consumer’s plate that they’re going to enjoy and they’re going to buy again?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes. Do you have to deal with the profitability part as well in your roles, typically, or is that somebody else that does?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah, previous to this, definitely. At SK food group. I wore quite a few hats. Beyond just innovation and leading commercialization, there’s a lot of sales that are involved. So you often get trotted out for the pony show, right?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Sure.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Because other culinary teams come in from other brands. If you’re having a conversation with General Mills or Nestle or Wendy’s or whoever it is, their culinary people are there as well. And you all are trying to speak the same language, right. To move forward. So, yeah, there’s definitely a dog and pony show that culinary people often get dragged out into. To be dragged out.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

You guys are magicians, right?

 

Holly Synder:

 

We like to think we are.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh, my goodness. So is there a moment, thinking back, is there a moment where you’re like, this is it? I want to say this differently. Was there a single moment where you went, this is what I want to do the rest of my life, or at least, this is what I want to do the rest of my life for right now?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah. Again, when you’re in your s, you’re lucky if you know where you’re going to live next month. But, yeah, I have to say that I think it was my experience at Stars, so there’s going to be some people who know what that meant and know who Jeremiah Tower was and the prominence he had and the importance of that restaurant. And I’m not sure I really knew it going in, but when you first start, you get the worst of all the jobs, and usually it’s working the line. And in pastry, you’re the last one out. Everyone’s drinking a beer and you’re still cleaning your station. But I remember thinking, working the line, that that energy, that adrenaline, all of that was like, oh, yeah, this is amazing. Like, this family, this dysfunctional family that you create, you know, for better or worse, you’re all in it together. Like, you all are just pushing through what seems to be extraordinary circumstances every night together. And that kind of camaraderie, I think is great. And it also then, which I realized more and more, leads you into the ability for strategic thinking and design thinking. If I do this and this this way, what happens? If I do it that way, what happens? You start to learn those things when you’re up against the wire on time. If you’re not organized on a fast paced line, you drown. And there is nothing worse than that. There’s everything you want to do to crawl your way back out of that, right? So, yeah, I think that was it. And people like Julia Child came in and got to meet her. Yes. Mikhail Barishnikovanelli. It literally was a starstruck restaurant for my first time at the rodeo. It was pretty cool.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

That’s pretty great.

 

Holly Synder:

 

It was pretty cool. And I knew what a special experience that was, and so I soaked it up. I did whatever I could to help open a restaurant in Napa, help run the bakery, help run the store. Like whatever it was I could do. I said yes. It was a great experience.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh my goodness. And I’m assuming I dated somebody who was a journeyman Baker : a.m. Wake Up Call is no joke, but I think anybody that works on the baking side has the longest days because you have so much upfront prep work, and then you have to wait, and then there’s so much on the back end as well. So I’m assuming that you’re saying at the end of the day, you were probably in there opening things or one of the first in there. I’m sure, yes.

 

Holly Synder:

 

There can be those types of hours as well, where eventually, as you rise up the ladder and actually become the pastry chef, then you get to boss other people around and as we say, you get to be a clipboard chef, where you’re just walking around checking the box. But until then, you’re earning your keep. So, yeah, the hours can be great. But the thing is, too, it’s interesting because it’s usually the position that gets the least amount of respect and honestly has the most amount of science and chemistry involved. Everyone else is winging it on the Risotto, and you’re there trying to scale up X amount of whatever it is, right, and figure out why the souffle fell or the cake didn’t do this, or whatever the case may be. So I don’t think pastry chefs really get their just desserts.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

No, I don’t think so either. Ha. I like that dad joke, but I will say that you’re right. I mean, they’re not necessarily winging it on the Risotto, but there’s a whole lot of subjectivity that goes on in there. You have a lot of creative license, and while you do have that somewhat in baking, it could be anything from the humidity that day to the bag of flour that came in the door. You guys struggle with a lot of conditions that will make or break a product, so I can have complete respect and listen, I have never had better bread in my life than when I was with Journeyman Baker. I mean, best bread on the planet, out of the oven whenever we wanted. It is something magical that those of you that have not experienced that you’re missing something, I digress.

 

Holly Synder:

 

I’m having bread. It’s okay. You can never go.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Right now. I’m more of a butter person, though. Like, I always tell people I need a little bread with my butter, and I’ve become I’ve told somebody. What did I say recently? I said, what is this world coming to where I have become a butter aficionado, and I will not eat certain butter on my bread because it’s the.

 

Holly Synder:

 

World I want to be part of. But that’s a great world. Yeah. What’s wrong with that world?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I know, but it seems so weird and bougie.

 

Holly Synder:

 

It’s totally boujee, and it’s perfect.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

All right, I know what we’re doing next. We’re going to go have a butter tour. That’s what we’re doing. We’re going to France. We’re having a butter tour. Oh, my goodness. Well, now, on the flip side, I always think that as many of the great things that happen in our careers that shape us and make us who we are, there’s always those moments where I’ll call it your oh, shit moment. It could be a failed business, a failed relationship, or maybe not even something quite as catastrophic as that. But is there a moment that happened during your career that kind of changed the trajectory, maybe in a way that you were grateful for afterwards, but in the moment was kind of an oh, shit moment.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah. I mean, at times I feel pretty lucky, though. I’ve also been told luck had nothing to do with it, that you work hard and you get what you get. Right? So, yeah, I have to say, it was during the whole housing crisis. Whatever, the housing crisis. So I was working for another startup, Kinetics, that was in sports nutrition. So I was developing a lot of CPG products that were high protein, cereal and bars and a lot of things like that. And my partner and I were living in a flat just a few blocks from here, and unbeknownst to us, the landlords had been foreclosed on, and we found out as they were kind of packing their bags and running out the back door.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh, my God.

 

Holly Synder:

 

At the same time, the startup was in trouble and people were being laid off, my hours were reduced, so I became a part time person, and.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

That.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Was definitely the moment. Right. Okay, we’re not going to have a home to live in. You now are making half the salary you did. What are you going to do now? Right. At that point, my epiphany was that startups have been great. I’ve learned a lot, but I think I want stock options and a K plan. Right. What am I going to do now? That might be the thing that I stay at for a while. And I’m kind of a weird person that I’ve stayed at a lot of my jobs in the food business. People switch around often every two years and I’m a little more of a six to seven to eight year person before I move on. I like to really drain it of everything it’s got before I move on. So I think that was a really scary time, but also a time where that’s when I made the move to SK and that was where I cut my teeth on what large CPG brands were doing, how they looked at consumers, what information was there, what information they thought was there that wasn’t there. Right. Like a lot of things that they’re just winging it and thinking that that’s what people are going to take. What really large scale production looked like. It’s one thing to be in someone else’s factory and see them make the bars or the chips or whatever it is. It’s different when it’s your plant and you’re there with a customer next to you and you’re making sure everything is exactly the way they want it. You kind of have to learn about everything. You have to understand packaging. You have to understand the difference between flow wrap and modified atmosphere and what a carton does and all the things, right?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes.

 

Holly Synder:

 

So that turned out to be a great move. It really turned out to be the move that kind of was a culmination of the creative parts of what I’d learned, the strategic thinking that I’d learned how to move through complex problems in a way that makes sense, how to be nimble, how to be frugal, all of those things kind of compounded with that job. So yeah, it turned out to be a great move. Turned out to be a great thing at the time. You don’t think so, right? Because you’re terrified, right?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yeah. The whole who moved my cheese? Gets real in that moment, right?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Absolutely.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

 was a very crazy year. The marketing industry and the design industry are kind of pre indicators of what’s happening in the marketplace. And I remember when David and I were doing our business and I had been on a trip and I had come back from the trip and there was nobody returning phone calls and there was nobody returning emails. It got really weird on the summer and we thought, oh, it’s just a blip because we’d never seen anything like that before. And then of course, November happened and the shit hit the fan, quite frankly. And all of a sudden we got really inventive in lots of ways on the home front, on the business front, but I think those of us that live through it, whether somebody like you that ended up going on the corporate side or even David and I, there’s a little bit. We call it a financial crisis, PTSD, and it’s not meant to diminish physical PTSD or mental PTSD in any way, shape, or form, but I’ll tell you, anytime the market gets a little bit as squidgy, we start going, here it goes. All right. It’s all going to fall apart.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Well, sure. Look at COVID, right? It was sort of the same situation. I was making, like, turkey sandwiches for a possible school lunch program on my dining room table. Right. I mean, it was sort of the same thing. Different, right?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Different, yeah. Different, yeah. From a job perspective, things probably ramped up for you at that time, because I know innovation went bananas at that moment. Everybody that was a restaurant had to pivot and start making things. There were a lot of amazing things that came out of there.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Restaurant business, then that would have been rough. No, we did. I was with SK at the time. And so, again, the school lunch program, there’s another thing that’s close to my heart, which is that most people who are in the food business are food insecure. So all of a sudden, there’s a bunch of kids who normally would get school lunch programs or after school lunch programs, and there’s nothing, right?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

There’s nothing.

 

Holly Synder:

 

So we really spun quickly and created a bunch of sandwiches for the school lunch program, which seems like, well, that’s easy. And honestly, it’s not, because they don’t put a lot of money into the school lunch program, as you probably know. So, yeah, there was a lot of work to be done there, for sure.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Was that you personally doing that, or was that SK?

 

Holly Synder:

 

That was SK. No, that was SK.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I did not know that. Yeah, I know.

 

Holly Synder:

 

That was a big load of school lunch program sandwiches and things for kids.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

And that pivot was really fast. I remember. I don’t think it was more than.

 

Holly Synder:

 

A week before when I say I had, like, turkey sandwiches lined up on my dining room table. I did. Taking pictures for specs, weighing things, like doing everything we could to figure out how to get it to happen quickly.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh, my goodness. And who is better? Like a commissary style organization that has the infrastructure to be able to do that fantastic. And keep all those people employed. You probably even had temporary workers come.

 

Holly Synder:

 

On board they did an amazing job at SK on that for sure.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Was my sister part of that?

 

Holly Synder:

 

I’m sure she was.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh, my goodness. I’m going to go give her a hug.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah, she would have had to figure out a lot of the transportation and stuff for that, which was complicated, for sure.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

All that turkey. All right, now I know it. Okay, great. All right, so let’s talk a little bit about you now. So looking back, I want to talk about Grace’s Kitchen a little bit right now, people, there’s a lot of frozen fresh food to go. The whole grab and go or easy meal making has really erupted. Particularly COVID made that exponential. But at the time of Grace’s Kitchen, just a high level what was Grace’s Kitchen? What made it special? Because it was different from a Hungry Man dinner. It was something completely different.

 

Holly Synder:

 

We were way before we were so before our time, I think about that. Grace’s was a great experience, and working with David was such a great experience. Yeah. We started, as some people might remember, the cook and carry business where people would come in, cook meals and take them home, which is weird. I’ve never quite understood that. I think really quickly we discovered that in Seattle, usually both people in the family are working. So there was not this, like, mom who was going to spend  hours putting a bunch of meals together. So people started to say, hey, can you just pack some stuff up and take it? And we’re like, yeah, we can do that. So I started to pouch some things, and put it in a little. It’s called a biopack. It’s what you get a chicken dinner in, right? Sort of sell it out of the front. And then a local grocery store came over and said, oh, well, can we buy that? And then it just sort of blew up till we realized like, oh, this is a thing. So I just started to put together two meals for two, they were frozen. Which is the big problem with home meal replacement, is there’s a huge amount of shrink in that area. Right. Huge amounts of shrink for the grocery store, for the consumer. It’s hard and the subscription business is a miserable business to be in.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yeah, the margins are pennies.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah. People do it for a month and then they’re done. So frozen seemed to be kind of a genius answer. So there was a sauce, there were sides that were cooked. The only thing that wasn’t cooked was the meat. Because frozen reheated meat is never delicious. And it made you feel like you were cooking. So if the meal had pork chops and a caper sauce, you were cooking that pork. So it was pretty revolutionary at the time.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yeah, I think it was date night food kind of positioning. If I remember correctly, when David and I were first working together and first what we were dating before we started working together, of course. And he was so proud of it. Grace’s Kitchen was still a company. I think you had not been acquired for the sauces, if I remember, is how it kind of went down in the end. And then he had some of these at home and they were so good. I was like, what is this? What is this magic? It was so fantastic.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah, it was pretty interesting. And we ended up doing private label for Target under the Archer Frog. We ended up a Kirkland meal for Costco, a steak and free kind of steak dinner meal. We were national. It was huge. And it was a good price point. I think it was between  for like a vegetarian meal to  for something maybe a little more meat centric. I was able to keep the USDA out of our plant because I had other commands package the meat. I was very tricky. I had other people package the meat and label it and bug it and then we just dropped it into a box. Smart. Yeah, we were very scrappy. The other thing is, I wish you had a picture of the box. But David did such a great job in designing a box that also looked so different on the shelf because, like you say, it sure did. You’re in the planogram with the Hungry Man and all that kind of stuff. And here was this super sexy, like, really great looking food. We worked with a lot of great food stylists and photographers. The layout on the back showing you all the ingredients. The box itself was also really revolutionary. So the whole thing was pretty amazing. But as all things happen, sometimes investors believe who are used to investing in non food things, that you make money a lot quicker than you do in the food business. So I think they just kind of got weary of the length of time it was taking to really turn a profit.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Really?

 

Holly Synder:

 

So I sort of saw the writing on the wall and kind of moved away. And I know they went to a trade show after that and then slowly it just kind of disappeared.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

They disappeared. Yeah. I think what I heard, and I don’t know if this is accurate, but that they sold the company to somebody that wanted the sauce recipes. Because I’ll tell you, those sauces were legit. But I don’t know if that’s real or not.

 

Holly Synder:

 

I have not heard that. But who knows?

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yeah, it’s okay. Well, so moving on from there, those of you I’ll put on my channel, the Grace’s Kitchen images when this goes live so that people can see what it is, I would say even still is revolutionary for what I’m seeing. In the freezer case, the price point would, of course, be that much more because you’re talking about premium products. But even when you’re talking about the quality of the products and the price per meal is still low compared to what you would get out. And that what you get was so great. There’s still nothing in the market that really is comparable in the freezer. There really isn’t. There might be time for a new one.

 

Holly Synder:

 

You never know. I made some desserts for a while, too. There was a reminder that people were pretty excited about a black pepper. Pineapple upside down cake.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh, my goodness.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Talk to me about that. Do you remember that? I’m like, yes, it was delicious.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes, I do.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Kind of a bake your own cake thing was also sort of a fun thing.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Well, when you have an opportunity to talk to other folks in the industry, people that are interested in doing a similar type of role as you, this innovation, what kind of advice do you find yourself giving to people?

 

Holly Synder:

 

And that doesn’t include run for your life.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

No, that could be number one.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah. Be curious. It’s what I’d probably tell anybody. Be curious. Say yes. And especially if you’re a woman. Food manufacturing is still, as most manufacturing is, widgets, cart, whatever it is, still a very male driven field. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been the only woman at a table of twelve men all talking about sports and me saying, I thought we were in the food business, but get a seat at the table and take up space. Don’t just sit at the table and then be quiet. Sit at the table. Get a seat at the table and take up some space. Take up space and ask good questions. Think about it. Ask good questions. You don’t have to ask a lot of questions, but ask good questions so that people remember you. It is hard to be female in manufacturing. It is. And typically you find us more in innovation than in others. But that’s changing. And at SK previously there were quite a few women who were starting to come up the ranks of leadership there, for sure. But yeah, get a seat at the table, for sure.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I love that. And I think that I don’t know if this is accurate, but I’m going to make an assessment that we could use far more diversity on the innovations front as well to kind of develop those recipes for a much larger audience. I don’t know if that’s accurate, but at least that’s what I’m seeing.

 

Holly Synder:

 

I would totally agree. I would totally agree. The world is changing and consumers, even though I think in general there are certain things that consumers will still buy regardless of what we’d like them to buy or hope they will buy, we have to realize that there is a lot more out there than what we’d like to believe. So, yeah, I think diversity is key to any business, but absolutely. For sure.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh, my goodness, Holly, I am really enjoying this conversation. Our time is almost up. But I have one last question that I like to ask absolutely everybody, and that is kind of a total dawn sequitur. Are there any other women leaders or rising stars out there in our industry or not that you would like to elevate for? The work that they’re doing right now?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah, they don’t need my help. I’ll say that. I don’t think they’re rising stars again. I go back to what it is to feed people, and I don’t take that lightly. And the people who work in those fields. And Claire Fontanoi from Feeding America, CEO of Feeding America. She’s there. I wish Jose Andres was a woman, because, honestly, I’d say Jose Andres, that’s all right, because what he is doing to feed is exactly stunning and humbling. And I look at that in awe. Lisa Moon from Global Food Bank. Giant Food Bank network. Just the people who have decided to spend their time to help with food insecurity. I think those are people who always should be championed. Most of them are paid well, but it’s still something that I think is an amazing job. Something that should be championed.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yeah. Jose’s operation reminds me a little bit of Disneyland. I’d love to be in that back team and watch the magic that makes that machine go, hey.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah. I mean, there’s a person who could have very easily rested on Laurels, totally lived with his feet up on the beach, and has decided to do everything he can for good. And it’s all those people who do that. I think it’s important.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Servants’ hearts, for sure.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Absolutely. Yeah.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Well, we have been talking with Holly Snyder, senior culinary Development. I’m sorry, you are? Senior culinary product developer at Amazon. Is there any place that you could point people to kind of show off a little bit of what you’ve been doing? Maybe your LinkedIn profile or do you have a portfolio somewhere?

 

Holly Synder:

 

Yeah, no, I think LinkedIn is probably the best. And, yeah, I do have products that I’ve worked on on my LinkedIn page, including the great products from Grace’s Kitchen. So, yeah, LinkedIn is a great place to connect, for sure.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Holly. I’m so happy to have met you.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Thank you.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

We should have met each other before, I know.

 

Holly Synder:

 

Well, there you go. No, thank you so much for having me as a guest. I really appreciate it.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Of course, yes. And thank you, listeners, for your time today. Hey, listen, if you like this episode, please share it with a friend. Otherwise, have a great rest of your day, and we’ll catch you next time on the gooder podcast you

Hide Transcript Show Transcript

Explore More

Top Podcasts

Want To Learn More

Sign up to receive our podcasts directly in your inbox.

Contact Us
Partner
Chief Sales & Marketing Officer
For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Contact Us

Let’s get this party started.

Contact Us