From farm-to-table restaurants, to food trucks, to our latest obsession with all things ramen (don’t act like you haven’t been drooling over those photos on Instagram), there are food trends everywhere and plenty of people behind those trends. In particular, women in the food industry are experiencing a renaissance of sorts. The restaurant and culinary world seems to be birthing superstars who, either through recipes, inventions or activism, are changing the way we eat, cook and find food. These trailblazing women are using their culinary creativity to combat issues in the food industry that include nutrition, processed ingredients and easy access to restaurant-style gourmet food and they are letting the principles of community, integrity and simplicity guide their delicious efforts.
Lisa Fetterman, Nomiku
Lisa Fetterman learned the community-building power of food at an early age. After immigrating to the United States at the age of seven, she was able to combat childhood ostracization by sharing some of her family’s unique dishes with her schoolmates. “That really internalized for me that food connects people and I can be one of those people that connects other people through food,” she recalled. As a teenager, Fetterman began building her arsenal of recipes and cooking techniques and preparing for a professional culinary career. “I was obsessed with fine dining and celebrity chefs and I would call their restaurants just to see how they would answer the phone,” she said.
After starting her professional career working in the kitchens of world-class chefs like Mario Batali and seeing their use of sous vide (French for “under vacuum”) for many of their signature dishes, Fetterman saved thousands of dollars to purchase herself an immersion circulator to recreate the technique at home. After meeting her now-husband Abe, she abandoned her plans to purchase one in favor of creating a more inexpensive, homemade option. “That was our first [Nomiku] prototype,” she said.
Fetterman and her husband spent the next few years using social media to find other amateur sous vide chefs to show them how to bring the cooking style into their home for an affordable price using her homemade device. Their efforts got the attention of the Obama Administration, who named the Fettermans “Honored Makers” for their contributions to the maker community. Fetterman and her husband raised over $1.3 million via Kickstarter to create Nomiku in the hope of providing an affordable and efficient way for people to enjoy sous vide cuisine.
Nomiku is a clip-on device that can be attached to any pot more than four inches tall. The device heats water to an accuracy of 0.1 degrees Celsius, to prevent overcooking and provide excellent results using sous vide temperature control principles. Nomiku also now has wifi capabilities and can be set even if you aren’t in your kitchen through Fetterman’s Tender app. The Tender app also contains recipes that can be uploaded from users and non-users. “If you’re really into food, there’s something about you that genuinely likes to share and I genuinely like generous people because if you share with me I want to share with you and then we just create a better community for each other,” she said.
Since its inception, the device has found its way to the kitchens of world famous restaurants like Meadowood, Saison and Atelier Crenn. The device can also be used for more unique purposes such as one mother, who Fetterman says used the technology to reheat her breastmilk to her own body temperature to ensure that it was safe to eat and maintained its nutritional value.
Fetterman says her goal is to remove any and all barriers between people and good food. She plans to keep creating technology to provide this access and to build community between food lovers. “We’re a food tech company for people who love to eat,” Fetterman says. “So whatever inventions are [helping] that is what I’m making next.”