We had the good fortune of connecting with Abby Gardner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Abby, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks means different things to different people, but in my experience, taking risks has generally served me well. When I think about some of the bolder choices I’ve made, I realize that risk was in play with all of them. In most cases, the decision to take the risk was impulsive, without much thought or energy put into the “what ifs.” I rely on and trust my gut feelings.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I come from a sports medicine/orthopedics background, where I worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer for 20 years. I maintain my credentials to this day & draw on my education and experience to help me in the work I do for my clients. I got into meal planning/meal prep out of my desire to be home with my kids when they started school. My business has evolved over time. When I first started, I was a distributor for a direct sales company that offered meal prep home parties, where people would get their friends together to prep freezer meals. I realized that I didn’t enjoy the sales party model and that people didn’t like them, either. Abby Cooks Wild was born out of my hearing people at the parties say, “I wish someone would put these meals together for me,” So, I began to shift away from focusing on product sales and moved more into offering meal prep services. So many people say to me that they hate cooking. What I’ve learned is that it’s not cooking that people dislike, it’s the process involved with getting a meal on the table. People don’t like having to think about it. Abby Cooks Wild eliminates that process. I do all the heavy lifting for my clients, from the shopping to the chopping! The best part is that everything I offer is also fully customized to meet my clients where they are. I work one on one with every client to determine what their specific needs are, from dietary restrictions/food allergies to food aversions to cooking styles and beyond. I think my background and the fact that I am a self-taught home cook are what set me apart from other meal prep services. In fact, you’ll never hear me call myself a “Chef.” I refuse to take that title. It’s an integrity thing for me. I don’t want to mislead my clients into thinking I am a chef, nor do I want to disrespect anyone who has rightfully earned the title through their hard work in pursuing an culinary degree.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many places! I think among the top places I’d take someone (and have) would be Red Rocks, preferably to attend a show, but it’s impressive regardless. I also love Steamboat Springs. It is truly my Happy Place and I go there as often as I can. I love everything about it there–the scenery, the hiking, the people, the downtown area.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow. This must be what it feels like to win an Oscar. There are so MANY people to credit! I can’t pick one. That being said, I have to give a shout to my mom & my husband & kids, who are my biggest cheerleaders. And, a close second would be a women’s connection group I’ve been part of since I started my business, called Polkadot Powerhouse. The women I’ve met through the organization have, in many ways, forced me to stretch out of my comfort zone and evolve into a version of myself I could never have dreamed of becoming. I am grateful to this sisterhood for not allowing me to settle, for celebrating my wins,& for supporting me through the tougher times. I know I would not be who or where I am without my Dot sisters.
Tanja Butler-Melone, Contemporary Expressions Photography