We had the good fortune of connecting with Tiffani Wells and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tiffani, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve been an artistic and creative person my entire life. Since I was a kid, for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved both art and music. I always considered these passions as hobbies, however, because I didn’t find it practical to seek a career in the arts. As I grew into an adult, I seldom found the time anymore to pick up a paintbrush or sit down at the piano. I had children fairly young, at age 20, and I worked full time in restaurants. When I wasn’t working, I was taking care of my home and kids. Well, everyone has to eat, and because I was the one making our meals, cooking (which I wasn’t experienced with yet) became my new artistic outlet. I fell in love. Once I saw the opportunity to turn my passion into a career, I went for it. In all honesty, I owe it to my husband and my friends. They have always had faith in me, in what I do, and have continued to push me forward towards accomplishing my dreams.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business, before it was a business, started as a website, a food blog. Where each week, I’d share a new one of my vegan and gluten-free creations. While the blog still exists, I now offer a lot more. I offer meal services for those who don’t have the time or desire to cook, I do recipe development for other businesses (both restaurants or creating meals with someone else’s product), I teach cooking classes when asked, and I’ve done a couple of pop-ups in the past as well. When it comes to my food, someone who isn’t vegan may say that’s what makes it unique, but plant-based foods are a lot more common than they used to be. When creating my recipes, I usually go in one of two directions. Either I try to recreate a traditional recipe using solely plant-based ingredients, or I like to create unique recipes, a lot of fusion, things that haven’t necessarily been done in the past. The “veganizing” appeals to those who have changed their diet but miss some of their old favorites. It also appeals to those who aren’t necessarily vegan or plant-based but appreciate having a healthier meal every now and then. Sometimes new foods aren’t as scary if they’re somewhat familiar. Those foods I think are what “wow” people after they take their first bite, my more unique creations sometimes “wow” people at first glance or they make you think, “Do those items belong together?” but once you take a bite, you know that they most absolutely do. Another thing that sets me apart from others is that I can cater to specialty diets. I do a lot of gluten-free cooking (everything on my blog is gluten-free), and I’ve cooked for clients who (on top of being vegan and gluten-free) are soy-free, lectin-free, low-oil, I’ve cooked vegan-keto, vegan-paleo, and I had a client who was on a candida cleanse. While I’ve yet to get certified in nutrition, I do have a diploma in Health Supportive Culinary Arts. That plus the experience of working with these clients helps me make meals which are delicious and personalized to an individuals needs. The fewer ingredients you tell me I can use, while it can be a headache at times, helps me get more creative, which is what I love. Plus I enjoy the challenge. Owning your own business is never easy. 14 hour days in the kitchen is never easy. Running a pop-up after only an hour and a half night’s sleep because you were up all night prepping food is never easy, but that’s not to say it isn’t worth it. What I do has its ups and downs, but in the end, it’s so rewarding. There’s nothing more satisfying than a skeptic taking a bite of your food, loving it, and asking how they can acquire more. Plus, because I cook vegan, and because a lot of what I cook has been for people who have other restrictions, I see what I do as helping others in my own kind of way. I’m helping the animals, I’m helping the planet, and often times, I’m helping the health of the person I’m feeding. That itself is reason enough to love what I do, and then I get to be creative at the same time, make my food, my art. I couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling career.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Always the beach! When I have friends visit, we will usually start up here in Oceanside and take a ride all the way down to San Diego, or at least Encinitas, taking the coastal route as much as possible. I’ll take them for a walk up and down the Oceanside pier, and then maybe stop to check out shops in Carlsbad Village. In Encinitas, I show off Moonlight beach and maybe walk around some more. If we keep going further south, we definitely have to go to La Jolla Cove to see the sea lions, and I think my next stop would be to walk around at Mission Bay. As far as food goes, I’d have to take them to some of my favorite places for food and drink. Here in Oceanside, there aren’t too many fully vegan places, but The Plot recently sprouted up, so I’d have to take them there. Martinis at 333 are a must! I’m absolutely loving the new options that keep popping up at Privateer, so that would be maybe a lunch one day. I always have to take friends to The Draft one night for a drink, too; it’s close to home, we love the staff, and (to my knowledge) they’re the only place around with a half-pound Beyond Burger (total win for my hubs). Further south, I love Bigfoot Natural Cafe in Carlsbad. Everything is fresh and made in-house. My favorite brunch spot is Modern Times Far West Lounge in Encinitas. Also in Encinitas is Plum for Thai food (Thai is my favorite!). Down in the city, Civico 1845 in Little Italy is my favorite dinner spot, and Kindred in South Park is another must for both delicious food and yummy cocktails. Aside from the beach and dining out, but still related to food, I love to take guests to both the Oceanside Sunset Market on Thursday nights, and also the Leucadia Farmer’s Market is my favorite Sunday activity (aside from brunch and sleeping in, LOL).
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Most of my success is thanks to two individuals. The first being my husband, Michael. Michael has helped with the business a lot. First, he made it possible for me to stay home for a while, which gave me the time I needed to start my food blog, and the blog is how Veggies at Tiffani’s LLC initially got started. It also helps to have live-in tech support! I’d be lost on the computer without him. I owe the growth of my business to my friend, Jennifer Gold. Initially, I was just a food blog, but one day Jen asked me to start cooking for her. This changed everything. After I started cooking for Jen and completing all the steps needed to make that possible, more and more people started asking me to cook for them. The next thing I knew, my business was taking on all kinds of various jobs, from cooking classes to recipe development for other local businesses. If Jen hadn’t asked me to start cooking for her, I don’t know if I’d have started my own business, or if I had, if it would look the same as what I’m doing now. I’ve always seen the possibility of a restaurant in my future, but I never really thought about the smaller opportunities in between. And if it wasn’t for my husband, always having faith in me, pushing me, and helping me, I’m not sure if I would have had the courage to do all that I have either.
Image Credits: Tiffani Wells