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Meet Aliye Aydin of A Good Carrot in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aliye Aydin.

Aliye, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started cooking as a “latch-key” teenager when my mom would leave instructions for cooking dinner when I got home from school (Shake-n-Bake chicken and blue box macaroni and cheese). It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with an autoimmune kidney condition at age 15, and told to watch my sodium intake that I really got serious about cooking. I couldn’t get enough early food TV, where I furiously scribbled down the recipes while watching, reading “healthy” cookbooks, and experimenting heavily on my family. There were definitely some epic failures.

After high school, I decided to pursue a university education instead of going to culinary school. During my time at UC Berkeley studying nutrition and urban agriculture I lived in housing co-ops, where I really discovered my passion for cooking for large groups of people and being involved with pop-up dinners (they certainly weren’t called that at the time). I discovered farmer’s markets, and purchasing directly from farmers was quickly becoming a “thing”.

After working front-of-the-house in food service for a few years, I finally decided to go to culinary school and ended up in NYC at a school that focused on natural foods. After culinary school, I decided to move to Seattle to be with family. There I worked in a few restaurant kitchens, but found that I was much more comfortable in catering than being “on the line”.

After 2.5 years in Seattle (I had only planned to stay there six months), the sun called me back to southern California where I grew up, Long Beach specifically, and I started a farm-to-door produce home delivery service called beachgreens in 2007. I ran beachgreens until 2015 and made the hard decision to close up shop when Amazon Fresh, Good Eggs, and the like moved to town. I absolutely loved the farmer relationship aspect of beachgreens, but the business just couldn’t compete in the “2.0” produce delivery marketplace. I went back to cooking in 2015 and started A Good Carrot in 2017.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
A Good Carrot started as an online recipe blog because I love traveling and wanted the freedom to do so while making money. It’s taken me a few years to realize that the joy in my work is not inspired by being a blogger. I much prefer in-person connection, and food is a terrific medium for connecting with others. One of the biggest challenges for me is believing in myself on a day-to-day basis. Believing that what I do has value is a constant struggle, to be honest. Finding the strength to continue daily requires me to continually check in with my passion and what ignites me. I’ve NEVER been a typical 9-5er (it’s a dreadful thought for me really), but living outside of that requires me to focus on the connection I feel with what I do, rather than relying on societal norms as markers for success. Finding people that value homemade food in this day and age is also challenging.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the A Good Carrot story. Tell us more about the business.
I teach cooking classes, provide in-home meal prep services, curate and cook for intimate events, and run a monthly spice subscription service called Spice Club.

I specialize in home-cooked Turkish and Mediterranean-style cuisine, using high-quality farm fresh ingredients. My father was Turkish, and I connect with this part of myself mostly through the food. I have lived firsthand the healing power of eating high-quality real food for our health, both physical and spiritual. I’m also known for the use of spices in my cooking. I just love the alchemy, history, and flavors that spices bring to food.

I started cooking because I had lost connection with my body (which manifested itself as disease), and continue to cook for my family and others to this day because connecting with others over food and culture is something that keeps me motivated. My passion is teaching people how to make time to enjoy cooking homemade food and how to fit it into busy schedules. I love to collaborate with others.

I am proud of my collaborations with incredible people over the years, and how I make cooking every day homemade food approachable yet special. I love cooking outside, and in unseen and unusual spaces. I love the challenge and the idea that a meal can be shared anywhere no matter who the crowd or the facilities.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos of me in the red apron by MB Maher (@mb.maher on IG)

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