Brand Builders: Romy Raad, Tahini On Tap
Meet Romy Raad: longtime friend of Together, our #1 culinary and travel influencer (before influencing was a thing), and creative brand consultant for clients ranging from established healthcare enterprises to breakout CPG startups.
Lebanon born and raised, Romy grew up in a culture that surrounded her in a deep appreciation for food and a true zest and zeal for life. After completing her studies in Beirut and NYC, Romy set out to merge her interests in design, strategy, entrepreneurship, and food. And while the journey has been delicious, it hasn’t all been lemon drops and lollipops (we think that’s a rather limited flavor profile, anyway).
Previously, Romy co-founded Metabrew, an award-winning superfood beverage startup where she led the charge on all things brand-building, sales, marketing, distribution, partnerships, and community building.
We sat down with Romy to talk about her next great brand adventure: Tahini On Tap. Romy has a way with words and bridging audiences with a shared love of food, so fair warning: don’t read on an empty stomach ;) And be sure to scroll to the end for one of our favorite recipes from Romy.
Romy, hi! It’s been a pandemic minute since we were all together again. Tell us about this new project of yours.
It’s a personal passion project of mine, called Tahini On Tap, and I’m super excited about it. I’m starting with an Instagram page, but there is a bigger vision. I enjoy building brands and now is the time to build mine again.
So much to unpack here. But first—why Instagram as a starting point?
I don’t know yet how I want to grow Tahini On Tap, so starting with Instagram was the first step. Instagram is now the platform that is most used for research, marketing, and creative output. So it’s almost like a social experiment for me. I want to see how my audience interacts with it before I build off of it. I always design or create something with the consumer in mind. For me, that’s super important.
You have these visions for the brand, but you are starting slow and building incrementally. That’s so smart. Tell us more.
I did it with my old company Metabrew and strongly believe in that process. I think everything needs to start small.
It’s like a dish that you prep. You know, slow cooking is the best. You want to let it develop all that flavor and soak in all the ingredients. Get the ingredients to get to know each other, for a richer more complex flavor profile. And it’s the same with a project.
You cannot rush these things. You do take the opportunity when it comes your way, but there’s maturity in approaching it in a very slow and intentional way.
For the past few years, you’ve been consulting with clients in all industries. What was calling you to start something new?
I was craving to create a sense of community. And I noticed that this is something that I lack here in Montreal, where I'm currently based. I’m missing the New York ease and opportunity to meet people and connect and learn from others, that I once had.
I want to create that myself here in Montreal, and I’m sensing a lot of people are in the same boat as me. They want to have access to something where they can connect with others and be part of a transformative communal gathering.
And for me, when I think of this, I think of the dining table. I think of the table that brings everybody together, for a different purpose, for a specific intention. The dining table is this place where a lot of ideas and conversations come to life, where you learn a lot of things, and I want to dream up ways to reimagine and fill the dining table with this sort of energy.
We’re hooked. Tell us more about your greater vision for Tahini On Tap.
For Tahini On Tap, I see it as this playground for exploring notions around food and tradition, food and traveling, the power of food itself, and the act of cooking and preparing something.
I have a much bigger vision to create an e-commerce experience, workshops, and travel retreats. There’s a lot of things I want to do, but again, I’m taking it slow and focusing on organic growth, so let's start with experiential gatherings to get to know the community, while building an e-commerce shop that would bring the world's gems to our reach. I will keep building and improving on the model through a human-centric approach. That’s going to help me get to know the local community here in Montreal, adjust the model based on what’s needed and what they want, and take it from there.
I also want to use it as a vehicle to support local talent that are changing the world of food or thinking about the future of food or doing activism around it — who are really changing the status quo around food.
We’ve been down a rabbit hole lately on what makes a good brand name. What inspired the name Tahini On Tap?
I had a long list of potential names. All the things that inspired me and came to mind, I wrote down. But “tahini” stuck with me because, first of all, tahini is one of those super versatile ingredients. It’s a powerhouse, it has a lot of health benefits, it’s really good for you, and it doesn’t take much to create a lot of things out of it.
And “on tap”—I’ve always imagined those chocolate fountains and cheese fountains at all these big buffets, and I’ve never seen a tahini fountain, you know? That visual sparked the name, and I started to like the sound of it. It has a rhythm, it’s light, it’s not too serious. It’s the vibe I’m going after.
The name offers an element of surprise in a good way, to inspire that experimentation and curiosity for my audience. I just want people to see that food is so much more than just what you eat.
You launched Metabrew back in 2015. How are you approaching this next brand differently?
With Tahini on Tap, I am not afraid of questioning and challenging my ideas. Maybe five years ago, I would have been more cautious and always in need of a clear trajectory. But now, I'm enjoying the mystery and the possibilities it brings.
Being a Virgo, I usually never enjoy not knowing where I’m heading, and that’s why maybe for the past couple of years I was so lost in my own self, and felt like I had no path.
Now, it’s starting to form and in a way, I’m excited, but I also feel like I don’t need to rush it. I don’t need to define it, or put it in a box. I’m trusting my gut instinct, flowing more in the process, and maybe it grows into something completely different, which I’m very open to.
So I’m doing a little bit of everything, which, you know, is me. I don’t need to define myself or just focus on one thing. I thrive on creating multiple things at once.
You mentioned you were feeling lost these last couple of years. Yet you have this brilliant track record in brand consulting and an amazing run with Metabrew. What was sparking these feelings for you?
When you launch something of your own, you identify so much with it. But then when you’re out of that bubble, somehow you feel you don’t belong anywhere. And it took me a few years to understand that it’s the opposite. Having that experience at Metabrew made me who I am today, and that’s why I’m able to do what I’m currently doing — from design research and customer experience, to strategic thinking, brand and marketing strategy, and creative direction.
Seems like it was a really big growth moment for you.
It’s not about what you lose, but about what you gain in retrospect. And that’s the kind of shift I had to get to after taking a step back from Metabrew. At first, I felt like a failure, like I wasted four years of my life on this product. It felt like I was starting from zero. But there’s so much that I gained. And there’s no way that I can say what I lost is more than what I gained.
And the fact that I did it myself gives me so much more advantage as a consultant. There are consultants who have never started a company or who have never tried what it takes to be an entrepreneur, hustling, and trying to get there. And that gave me an advantage, because my clients trust me. I know where they are at, and I can communicate with them in a way that’s more supportive, more understanding.
I’m here today because of my experiences with Metabrew. It helped me shape my path for food. Metabrew showed me I can bring food to my profession. I can take my passion and the things that I enjoy doing, and combine them into one.
That’s a beautiful reminder for founders and creatives out there. Any last advice for those feeling at a crossroads?
It took me years of having so much doubt, and finally I just had to go back to basics and ask myself, what is the one thing that I just can’t stop talking about? And for me that is food. Food is always the center of things.
And something in my gut told me to just do something about it. If it doesn’t work, it’s totally fine, because I’ve failed before and I’ve come out of it. You’re going to have to fail. So my advice is, whatever it is you can’t stop thinking about, just do it, fail fast, then do it again but better. There’s really nothing wrong with that.
Failure is the road to success. You need to fail to actually be successful. If you read about all these big gurus, nobody got there because they got it right the first time. It might take you several different companies or projects to be successful. So in a way, the faster you fail, the faster you’re going to get where you want to get. So just get out of your head. Do things that are scary, because scary is good. And just fail forward.
Recipe: Romy’s Healthy-Yet-Decadent Gluten Free Tahini Bars
1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut oil (I also did half coconut oil half avocado oil and it turned out great)
2 tbsp maple syrup
Peanut butter filling:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/8 cup tahini
1/8 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp almond milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tbsp coconut oil for gloss
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together all shortbread ingredients until dough is formed, and press it into a parchment-lined loaf pan or Pyrex.
2. Bake for 10-12 min until it’s golden (mine took 13min, so depending on your oven!) then remove from oven and set aside to cool.
3. For the peanut butter caramel: mix all ingredients together until smooth, then pour all over the shortbread, and place in the freezer to harden for 1 hour.
4. For the chocolate ganache: melt together all ingredients until smooth (microwave works) + pour over the chilled mix and freeze overnight or for at least 2-3 hours + slice into pieces.
5. Top with flaky sea salt and enjoy!
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