The Cook and the Geek: 1Aisle Co-founders Jason Francisco and Derin Oyekan Aim to Simplify Healthy Eating with New App

1Aisle to simplify healthy eating and give it mass appeal.

1Aisle to simplify healthy eating and give it mass appeal.

When it comes to food, 1Aisle co-founders Derin Oyekan and Jason Francisco run with completely different crowds.  Jason, the cook and 1Aisle’s executive chef, spends his days planning teen-friendly, farm-to-school meals for Marantha High School’s 500+ students.  Derin, the geek who can run complex algorithms but can’t cook a burger, rarely goes near the kitchen and only thinks about food when he’s hungry.  Different though they are, they stand united on one important topic:  healthy eating.  Earlier this week, I sat down with them to discuss their new healthy eating app, 1Aisle, and how they hope to give healthy eating mass appeal.

Where did the idea for 1Aisle come from?

Derin:  It’s an evolution of an idea I had to start a local grocery delivery service in Downtown Los Angeles.  There were very limited grocery options, and the idea was to start a service that made it easier to get groceries from healthier stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.  It has since evolved into something much bigger, something holistic, something that closes the loop of what’s already available and makes the whole process – discovery, planning, shopping, eating – easier, healthier and well, seamless.

Jason:  In my line of work, I have the luxury of having access to information from suppliers and farmers.  I’ve always wondered what if regular people had my level of access.  Then I met Derin, and suddenly, through technology, that seemed possible.  We went back and forth with different ideas and now we have 1Aisle.

What is your personal approach to healthy eating?  How will 1Aisle change that approach?

Jason:  I’m a big believer in dirty vegetables and having to wash the soil off myself!  I like fresh, seasonal vegetables, and I like to know where they come from.  I don’t know that 1Aisle will change my approach to healthy eating, but it will make my approach that much easier.

Derin:  For personal and health reasons, I’m a pescatarian with aspirations of going vegan. This is especially because of  all the disturbing news about radioactive fish in California as a result of the nuclear disaster in Japan.  My main food concern is options.  I like variety in what I eat.  Jason has really made my transition to pescaterianism easier by keeping my meals fresh and engaging.  I’m confident that 1Aisle will help make my transition to veganism even easier by putting easy-to-understand information at my fingertips in such a way that I don’t really even have to think about it, it’s just there.

Who is 1Aisle for?

Derin:  Busy moms and busy dads who, after a long day at work, need an easy dinnertime solution that’s not take out.  It’s also for young professionals, like myself, who are really looking to make a change in the way they eat but aren’t sure where to start.  1Aisle makes it easy:  it tells me what I have, what I need, where to get it, and how to make it.

The digital presence of food is already so big…  Where does 1Aisle fit in?  What does 1Aisle bring to the table?

Jason:  I would like to see 1Aisle become Google-caliber default source for food-related information.  When people are looking for a solution, I want them to say “Let’s 1Aisle it” and have that solution be there for them.

Derin:  Food is one of the most social things and that’s probably why it has such a big presence.  It’s what we do when we’re happy, when we’re sad, it’s what we do to celebrate.  We’re at a tipping point in society where people are paying a lot more attention to what they eat. However, there is such an abundant amount of information that it’s just overwhelming, not to mention conflicting.  “Information overload”paralyzes people and they revert back to what they know.

We aim to close the loop of healthy eating.  From the commitment to the discovery to the selection, planning, and cost benefit analysis, 1Aisle simplifies it all and integrates it in such a way that the end user doesn’t even know at a conscious level that they’re taking all those actions.  I don’t think anything else out there quite does that.

What do you hope to achieve with 1Aisle?

Jason:  I want people to go back in time to 50 years ago when it was actually enjoyable to cook, and not stressful.  I want cooking to be fun again.

Derin:   I want people , like myself, with limited cooking skills to begin taking steps – even small ones – back toward the kitchen.


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