Writer-Producer Stacey Lubliner Launches Cooking Site for Parents
There's a brand-new option for working parents in search of a faster solution to making the transition from hero in the boardroom to king or queen of the kitchen: fromofficetotable.com.
The website is the brainchild of Stacey Lubliner, a onetime literary agent at ICM turned writer-producer who just launched the project offering dinner recipes that can be prepared in 25 minutes or less, using staple ingredients that can be molded as separate options for parents and kids.
She is the wife of WME partner David Lubliner, and the couple has two children, "Andrew, who is 9 and Molly, who is 5 going on 16," Stacey laughs. Her tenure at ICM included seven years repping writers and directors for film and TV. Following that, she segued to a post as president of Lime Orchard Prods., where she worked with filmmakers including Chris Weitz, James Mangold and David Yates. She produced Weitz's A Better Life, which garnered an Oscar nomination for star Demian Bichir.
THR caught up with Lubliner to talk about the website, her favorite recipe, and where she got her famous nickname, "The Energizer Bunny."
Congratulations on the launch! How did you come up with the idea?
Thank you! A few years ago I was just so overwhelmed, as many of us are, with working and having kids, and I noticed that I was ordering in food way too much. I didn’t like the way it felt, and I decided I needed to figure out a way to not only learn how to cook, but to feel at ease in the kitchen. I needed the kitchen to be stocked with the right foods so I didn’t go to the grocery store and buy half the store on a Sunday only to end up throwing it all away four days later! So it was the beginning of the idea to create a book or a TV show — or now a website — to help streamline cooking and the prep of cooking for busy people. And I especially liked the idea of using the same ingredients to make two versions of a meal, one for adults and one for kids. In terms of the recipes, I just found a lot of them to be either too complicated, long or boring! So I decided mine would be funny and to the point.
How long have you been perfecting the recipes and/or concept?
I watched a ton of cooking shows on all the food networks and read a lot of magazines in any spare time I had to teach myself how to cook the basics, and it took off from there. The recipes are all my own creations, but they're certainly inspired by many great chefs. Nothing I cook is super fancy, but it is fast and easily “swappable”: If for some reason people don’t like fish they can use steak or chicken, etc. I have been cooking for a while, now and my friends could not believe it when I would tell them that the meals only took about 15-20 minutes to make. I have been working mostly on just making sure every recipe really only takes about 25 minutes or less and that half of the ingredients are what I call my “gold star staples," so they should already be stocked in your house. I just wanted to make sure it was really working for a few weeks before I went for it. And when I say 25 minutes I like to pad it for the occasional phone call or kid meltdown, which inevitably happens when you’re trying to make dinner!
Do you have a favorite recipe?
Probably the pasta with tomato basil, because it was first dish my kids starting asking for as “Mommy’s famous pasta,” so that made me feel good! Although they have been asking for the lemon dill halibut a lot, so that is a close second.
What has the response from friends and family been?
It has been amazing. Everyone seems to be in need of this site. I am surprised how many people are not cooking for their families but really want to. I know that feeling, and this site can help. I am happy that people are starting to find it. A mom on the baseball field came up to me the other day and said she tried one of the shrimp recipes and her kids had never even liked shrimp before! She showed them the pictures from “Andrew’s mom’s website” and said they loved it! I don’t want to deliver people food or do it for them. I want to help organize and empower them to do it themselves. I loved that moment.
Your sister has been instrumental in the launch. What has it been like to work so closely with family on something like this?
It has been great and also eye-opening. We are only five years apart, but I feel like I am in the dark ages with technology compared to her! She is the current CTO and knows a lot more about computers then I do, and she has been invaluable to this process. We are very close and she quickly recognized my vision for this idea. She has been getting paid in free meals! Hopefully I can pay her in real money one day, but I think she is okay with the current situation. We laugh a lot. I could never have launched this without her.
How have your children responded to the menus? Have they been your guinea pigs in testing out which recipes you put up on the site?
Yes, they have been loving it! They put in their two cents all the time on what they would like to see and eat. They love to help me in the kitchen. I think kids should be a part of the process. Part of the site is that each recipe yields an adult plate and a kids plate, but the joke in my house is that my kids sometimes eat the adult plate and my husband eats the kid plate! They don’t like everything, but they do have to taste it at least once. Although one morning the light was so beautiful in the kitchen I decided to cook because I thought the pictures would come out better. I don’t think they were thrilled that I was grilling a ribeye steak at 8 a.m.!
Meals are just one of the many challenges that working moms face. What is the hardest part about juggling a busy schedule and a family?
Everything is relative, and everyone has their own challenges. I think finding the balance is the biggest challenge. There is guilt wherever you are not. If you’re missing something for work or school or one kid or your husband — you find the guilt somewhere. And just when you think you have mastered the schedule and everyone is where they’re supposed to be, you walk into a meeting and you realize there's oatmeal in your hair, or the school nurse emails and your kid has lice. It’s never a full balance, but I like to just take things as they come.
You manage to hold it all together pretty effortlessly, so it’s no surprise that your bio on the site says your friends and family have dubbed you the “Energizer Bunny." Where do you get it from?
My mother. She has a ton of energy! She just retired at age 64, and she was running three schools for kids with learning disabilities. My friends are amazed at they quantity of what I can get done in a day, but I have those producer-agent skills and a lot of ideas, and I don’t sleep much. But I have stopped sending out emails at 4 a.m. I think!
How did your agenting and producing skills help you with putting it together?
Agenting and producing are a lot about being detail-oriented and managing people and tasks. I have been able to apply my big-picture knowledge and multitasking to the launch and the detail-oriented structure of the site and the idea. The crossover happens for two reasons: No. 1, because so many people in the business actually need the site. And No. 2, the fundamentals of the business are similar to selling any product. I am learning a lot about the new developments with social media and the use of Instagram and Twitter, and we are starting to tap into those online communities. I am getting invited to different conferences that I never even knew existed before. The entire company is still just me and my sister, Lisa, so we are happy for the free advice a few friends have been giving us.
What are your goals for the future of the site/app?
We are in the process of upgrading the site visually, and hopefully soon we will have some video on it as well. I would like to write a cookbook and have a cooking TV show based on fromofficetotable. We have an idea for an app that can make grocery shopping easier. The site is off to a great start, so we are excited at the growth in only a few weeks.
You’re still writing as well. What projects do you have in the works that you can talk about?
Yes I am! My day job. Currently, I have a TV spec pilot that is out to networks. It's sort of Mash meets Tropic Thunder. It’s about a group of B-list celebrities that go on USO tour to Afghanistan, but they get into some trouble when the president orders a no-fly zone and they get stuck. I love smart comedies and I am sort of a political news junkie, so this was really fun to sit down and write.