Chelsea van Hooven and Choco are here to change the world by helping build a better food system with technology.
The Choco team is looking to digitize the food system so that less food is wasted, and more people are fed. This makes a major mark on global hunger and helps the food industry long plagued by razor-thin margins.
The goal of Choco is to help food businesses:
- Save Time
- Save Money
- Save Food
A Holistic Education on Food Production:
Since she was a kid, Chelsea’s skillset to change the world was being formed merely by merging two different worlds within her own home.
“I grew up with an American mom and a German dad in Germany,” recalls Chelsea van Hooven on the Digital Hospitality podcast. “So, my main task growing up was cultural translation for my parents.”
Throughout her youth, it’s fair to say Chelsea was doing as much teaching at home as she was learning at school. When it came time to attend university, Chelsea’s worldly upbringing in Germany led her across Europe for another masterclass on converging cultures.
“I studied food, culture, communication and marketing at the most beautiful university in the entire world, the University of Gastronomic Sciences in North Italy,” smiles Chelsea.
In Italy, Chelsea was schooled on slow food ideals, diving deep into the global movement of regional sustainable food production. This consciousness approach to creation and consumption shaped Chelsea’s views on the role food plays in this world, from feeding and flavor to economics and logistics.
“I had a holistic education on food and food production,” shares Chelsea. “I’m very passionate about anything that has to do with food production and restaurants.”
After an amazing Italian education, Chelsea returned to Germany to begin her career. While leaving school and entering the work world can be a burden for many – especially those with as enjoyable university experience as Chelsea – it instead propelled her to the perfect position to change the world by once again connecting worlds.
Taking her talents to Berlin-based food tech company Choco, Chelsea is blazing merging pathways between two major industries as the brand’s Global Industry Advisor.
“At Choco, I basically found my dream job,” beams Chelsea van Hooven. “Choco is the intersection of tech and food and I get to be the link between both.”
What is Choco?
You’re probably asking yourself, what is Choco and how does it work?
We’ll let the Global Industry Advisor for Choco answer that: “Choco is the digital ordering platform that connects the kitchen of restaurants directly with suppliers, producers and farmers,” Chelsea van Hooven said.
“At Choco we developed a very simple app that we set up individually for each restaurant. We ask the restaurant what suppliers they work with and we implement them in chats with product lists. From there, the chef or anyone from the restaurant team can go into the app, click the product that they want, log the quantities and send it.”
With Choco, restaurant employees that work in operating or work around the oven can have direct access to bringing in the best ingredients with the click of a button.
Choco is used by more than 10,000 suppliers and 15,000 restaurants who place over 100,000 orders each month using the digital ordering tool.
Pulling from a long list of suppliers, Choco makes the food industry more technically savvy and also more transparent.
“Our main aim is to digitize this industry,” Chelsea states on Digital Hospitality.
“We want to get all of the players into the digital space so we can start understanding how food is being moved from point A to point B. Our overall aim is to move food more transparently.”
Right now, Choco is working with over 6,000 restaurants worldwide. Though based in Berlin, Choco team members are on the ground currently in the likes of Austin, TX and other hot food cities in an effort to educate communities on their services and build relationships for a more sustainable food industry.
The Fight to Reduce Food Waste:
Choco is fighting a bigger fight than just getting users to join their app.
“We all know how much food is being wasted and that there are people that need to be fed,” notes Chelsea van Hooven about helping build a better food system using technology that helps reduce waste.
“We’re really striving for a big cause. We want to change the world. We know it won’t happen tomorrow, but we’re working hard on making it happen. In maybe five to 10 years we’ll be there, and we’ll be the ones fighting.”
While Chelsea’s new ideas are well intentioned and well researched, speaking to an older generation about forward-thinking ideas is always a challenge.
“I got invited to an event in Bavaria where I spoke about how we need to innovate the restaurant industry,” shares Chelsea van Hooven about her sustainability outreach efforts. “I spoke in front of a lot of older people. I was really scared of being looked at like, ‘Who does she think she is trying to explain to us how the world works?’”
“But I’m convinced that this is what needs to happen. Our generation understands where we need to go and are trying to push that forward.”
Regardless of our age or role, we all struggle with presenting new ideas and finding our voice.
Chelsea van Hooven of Choco is humble enough to recognize this, but she’s also passionate enough to keep pushing forward.
“Being confident enough to speak out and ask for change, even though you haven’t been in the industry long? That’s still a big challenge for me,” admits Chelsea. “I’m still understanding, where is my space? What am I allowed to say? How vocal am I allowed to be without pushing people too far?”
Questions and discovery are a healthy part of any mission. Lucky for Chelsea, her origin of translating culture within a multicultural household has well prepared her for Choco’s mission to change the world.
“I think the space that I’ve found in my job is being the link between passionate chefs and translating their mission and vision into a business perspective,” she said.
Essentially, Chelsea is able to relate the creativity and love that goes into producing food with the logistics and technology that make it profitable and sustainable.
Day in and day out, Chelsea van Hooven is committed to growing food culture around the world through Choco. It is important to her that everyone has a better understanding of the origin of their food and the systems that make it possible.
Within the food industry, she wants to make strides in inclusion through understanding of the roles everyone plays. When there is respect for all players – from the chefs, to the farmers, to the suppliers, to the customers – then the food industry can truly flourish in sustainable and loving fashion.
Lucky for Chelsea, she’s not alone in her mission at Choco.
“Our company culture is full of energy,” shares Chelsea. “We aim to go to the moon and to do big things. We have a bunch of really ambitious entrepreneurs on our staff who have the aim to change the world. We’re a team of very flexible entrepreneurs and we’re always adjusting, we’re always adapting.”
As Choco looks to change the world, they’re still committed to changing within.
Just as Chelsea started her journey connecting worlds at home as a kid, she’s changing the world as an adult at Choco by bridging the gap between the food and tech industries.
Sustainability has never tasted so good.
- WHAT IS CHOCO?
For restaurants, Choco is a free mobile app that lets chefs and managers order and chat with suppliers. For suppliers, Choco is a web and mobile app that lets them manage customer relationships and orders.
- WHO IS CHOCO FOR?
Anyone who buys stuff from suppliers – chefs, ordering managers, owners, bar managers – and anyone who sells stuff to restaurants – suppliers and sales reps. Anyone in the industry interested in optimizing the way they order, removing mistakes and reducing waste.
- DO MY SUPPLIERS NEED TO BE ON CHOCO?
No. You can order from all your suppliers on Choco, whether or not they’re signed up to the platform. Orders placed on the app are converted into your supplier’s format of choice – email, text, fax and via direct integration.
- HOW CAN I SIGN UP FOR CHOCO?
Reach out here and our team will be in touch to get you set up in under 24 hours!
– Choco Frequently Asked Questions can be found at: https://www.choco.com/faq
LINKS TO CLICK:
- Choco App for Restaurants: https://www.choco.com/restaurants
- Choco App for Suppliers: https://www.choco.com/suppliers
- Chelsea van Hooven on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chelsea-van-hooven/
- Chelsea van Hooven on Medium: https://medium.com/@chelseavH
- Food Logistics Press Release: https://www.foodlogistics.com/technology/press-release/21139197/choco-choco-launches-catalogs-feature-to-help-restaurant-suppliers-focus-on-sales-and-growth
- Forbes Article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danieldambrosio/2020/04/23/fighting-climate-change-and-the-coronavirus-by-cutting-waste/