our motivation, mission, and expertise

I was a working mom when I began introducing solids to my son, Jayden. I always assumed that I would feed him one of the prepared food options, given the demands of a career and being a new parent. When the time came, I opened my first jar of shelf-stable food, and it just didn’t look, smell, or taste like a vegetable should.  I found the prepared baby food options to either be too sweet, too bland, and all over-processed.

So I began something I never thought I would: cooking all his meals, full of a variety of vegetables, grains, and spices.  As he got older, I saw the impact that the early introduction of delicious vegetables had on his palate … as a toddler, he ate a lot of veggies and really flavorful food.  I was so happy to be able to offer Jayden nutritious, flavorful food that he devoured, but the cooking and cleaning took away from my already limited time with him.

I decided to launch the food I made for him knowing there must be other parents like me, looking for truly nutritious, truly delicious, vegetable focused-meals that taste like they were made fresh that day.  Meals that allow parents to take a break from cooking their kids foods, without feeling like they are sacrificing taste or nutrition.

My daughter, Mira, now eats lil’gourmets almost every day and I am so happy that she gets essential nutrients and fresh, homemade taste even when I don’t have time to cook. I hope you and your lil’ones love our veggie meals as much as we do!

With gratitude,

 Shibani signature

Mom to Jayden & Mira

 

 

Our Mission

lil'gourmets strives to cultivate curiosity in lil'ones with nourishing, veggie-focused global cuisines from an early age to help them fall in love with vegetables and flavorful foods for life.

Based on the research  that shows there is a high correlation between first foods and future eating habits, lil'gourmets strives to cultivate lil'ones curiosity by exposing them to unique tastes, textures, and cuisines from an early age to help them fall in love with vegetables and diverse, culturally-rich foods for life. We imagine a world where kids become curious about Morocco, because they love their Moroccan Butternut Squash ... and one where they request the complex flavor of a vegetable curry more often than mac & cheese!

 

Our Expertise

We have surrounded ourselves with expert advisors to bring you safe, delicious, nutritious foods that we feel great about feeding to our kids and hope you do too.

Rupa Mahadevan, MD FAAP

Rupa Mahadevan, MD FAAP

General Pediatrics
Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Northwestern Medicine

 

Dr. Mahadevan completed a specialized fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona after her pediatric training which sparked her passion to educate and promote wellness in children. Prior to medical school, Rupa worked as a nutrition counselor, and she is passionate about educating parents how to cook healthy meals for their children. She has her own blog promoting wellness in kids which you can find at www.kidchendoc.com or you can follow her on instagram at @kidchendoc

“I believe ‘Food is Medicine’ and I try to incorporate nutrition-based counseling during all of my pediatric clinic visits. I am also one of the ‘Cooking up Health’ facilitators offered at a Chicago based medical school. My research interests include mindfulness-based therapies for children exposed to toxic stress, culinary medicine, as well as reducing physician burn out through wellness. In my free time, I enjoy yoga, cooking, and traveling.

I became involved with lil’gourmets because when I first met Shibani her enthusiasm was contagious. As a mother and an entrepreneur, she had a passion for building a brand that was healthy and trust worthy.

There are so many baby food companies on the market but after I tried all her products, I was sold at the first taste! The purees are rich with nutrients and burst with flavor at every bite. I really like the HPP preservation process as well as her strong desire to make sure every product tastes fresh and like real vegetables and fruits. The spices work to enhance the flavors instead of masking them. As a pediatrician, I always promote homemade blends and her products taste like they were made in your kitchen!”

  

Jane V. Leland, Ph.D.

Jane V. Leland, Ph.D.

Food/Flavor/Taste Science Consultant

 

Dr. Leland is an international food industry leader   with over thirty years of taste, flavor, and food   research and development experience. She formed   Leland Global Enterprises LLC after retiring in 2015   from Kraft Foods, where she rose to the position of Technology Fellow in recognition of her technical and organizational leadership, pioneering R&D partnerships to address challenging food/public health concerns such as sodium and sugar reduction, and track record of building strong results and relationships across cultures and geographies.

She is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, and past chair and current executive committee member for their Agricultural & Food Chemistry Division. She has also served as a U.S.D.A. research panel reviewer and Advisor to the Cornell Institute of Food Systems.

Leland holds a B.S. in Food Science from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in Flavor Chemistry from University of Minnesota. She currently consults primarily with small to medium for-profit and non-profit organizations. In her free time, Jane loves to travel and is a Chamber & Orchestral string musician.

“I’m excited about being involved with lil’gourmets so we can bring uniquely spiced fresh vegetable-based nutrition to babies. And excited for the opportunity to help bring an entrepreneur’s dream to life.”

 


Suzanne Florek

Executive Chef, Product Developer & Recipe Innovator

 

Suzanne Florek’s professional life has been influenced by her passion for good food and its power to create moments of personal connection. This passion is both the inspiration and driving force behind her distinguished culinary career as a 5-star executive chef. After earning degrees in both business (from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business) and culinary arts (from The Culinary Institute of America), Suzanne’s career launched at the famed Chicago restaurant, Spiaggia, where she worked her way up to the position of Executive Chef.

Since then, Suzanne has developed her own culinary consultancy and has researched and developed new food products for both independent food companies and Fortune 500 clients. From 2016-2018, Suzanne ran her own restaurant and retail location, Salty Fig, in Western Springs, Illinois. As owner, chef, and operator of Salty Fig, Suzanne developed incredible menus and led a diverse culinary team of 30. Suzanne joined lil’gourmets in 2019 as our product development expert and recipe innovator. She is the creative mind behind the development of our latest global flavors, which are as healthy as they are delicious.  

When she’s not whipping up new taste combinations for lil’gourmets, Suzanne lives in Western Springs, Illinois with her husband Anthony, enjoying spending time with him and their three sons, who live nearby.

“I joined lil’gourmets because children are happier, healthier and more confident when they are exposed to the world. Spices, flavors and organic vegetables are an important part of opening their eyes. Aside from being smart, amazing women, Shibani and Becky have a fabulous vision that I enjoy being part of, pushing the boundaries of prepared vegetables into a world of flavor!”