By Donna Loughlin

When Tyler Florence arrived in New York City in the mid-1990s to take the culinary world by storm, he had $500 to his name. In the decade that followed, he would become one of the city’s hottest young chefs, a cookbook author several times over, and the first young breakout star of the fledgling Food Network.

But when he left New York for the West Coast, his journey was only just beginning.

Since relocating to Northern California in 2007, Tyler has continued developing and launching new restaurant concepts and remains a presence on the Food Network. But Tyler’s story is more than just high-end cuisine and television.

Like many of the innovators I’ve had on this podcast, he has managed to use his innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit to build on his initial successes and put them to use on a much larger scale. These days, he’s a mogul who is still expanding his reach. He has his own line of organic baby food called Sprout, he’s invested in several innovative food startups and he’s building out a growing multi-media empire.

“As someone who is self-employed — which is another name for an entrepreneur — you have to be able to reinvent yourself over and over again,” Tyler told me. “I never want to waste a thought because somewhere in there could be a million-dollar idea. I’ve gotten really good at the discipline of harvesting my own thoughts.”

More recently, Tyler has also become a prominent voice for ending world hunger teaming up with the United Nations World Food Program to address food insecurity. He’s a leading advocate for eliminating food waste. Building on his well-received 2018 documentary Uncrushable, which told the story of the devastating Napa Valley wildfires of 2017, Tyler and his production team are working with the UN to tell the stories of famine-ravaged communities around the world.

“There is enough food grown today to feed the world,” he said. “That’s a fact. It’s just not managed properly. There are so many places that are just in unbelievably dire situations and I think we need a clearer lens. If you just look at what’s happening here in America, we’re producing food that we’re just not turning into nutrition and it ends up in the garbage can.”

“These are the stories need that need to be told.”

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