It's often a long 20-hour drive from Los Angeles, California to Portland, Oregon. But for Lani Raider, founder and creator of NOBULL Specialty Foods, the journey took twenty years.
Lani was a small child when she first helped prepare the family meals in her grandmother’s kitchen in Los Angeles. Cutting, chopping, and slicing were all part of her initiation to her life’s passion of creating locally sourced, healthy and delicious food. This started the journey toward creating NOBULL Specialty Foods.
Three of her four grandparents were born in Eastern Europe, and they brought their cooking traditions with them. Preparing food was always at the center of family get-togethers, holidays, Shabbat, etc. As Los Angeles lacked any noticeable seasonal changes, holidays marked the transitions others would find in a colder climate.
The kitchen wasn’t just for preparing food; it was a secret place where the grandmothers told stories without male interruption or correction. Perceptive and intelligent, Lani loved the kitchen and recognized it as a sanctuary for her to hear their authentic voices.
Lani learned to prepare family meals at an early age. But she also had an entrepreneurial leaning. As early as high school, she started her first business selling homemade cookies. Following her senior year, she spent a year in Israel, living on a kibbutz.
She was a practicing vegetarian and soon became the vegetarian cook on the kibbutz. This was the first time she had cooked for so many people. Lani found the same deep connection with the people she served that she had experienced in her grandmother’s kitchen.
Wanting to continue her education, at the end of the year, Lani returned to the states and attended the University of Santa Cruz. While pursuing her degree, she continued her passion for preparing food for others. Lani’s cooking became a cornerstone of student gatherings. People put money in the till, and Lani’s talent would transform the contributions into meals inspired by local ingredients. She even worked on an organic farm at the base of the campus. It all seemed to fit with her core values of growing healthy food and taking care of the planet. Though she loved preparing healthy, vibrant food for others, it still never occurred to her that cooking professionally could be a career.