Encantos, the award-winning B-Corp creating family entertainment education brands, today announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Aliya LeeKong, the award-winning chef, cookbook author, and television personality, to develop a new food-inspired preschool brand called ISSA’S EDIBLE ADVENTURES. Encantos will bring the brand to life via a series of books, apps, an animated series, consumer products, subscription services and more.
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Aliya LeeKong (Photo: Kristin Gladney)
Believing that food is a universal language that can bring people together, further global citizenship, and educational narratives, LeeKong developed ISSA’S EDIBLE ADVENTURES as a way for kids and families to learn about world cultures through food and the science of nutrition through ingredients. The adventure-driven brand will center on the feisty, funny and resourceful lead character Issa, a half-Black – half Indian 7 year old girl. Designed to help preschool kids develop 21st century learning, literacy and life skills, the brand will focus on Issa’s culinary adventures and inspire kids to celebrate food and cultural heritage while discovering the fun of cooking. Issa was inspired by LeeKong’s daughters Asya and Aslan with the goal to bring more diversity, equality and inclusion to family entertainment and education, in particular multiracial and multicultural lead characters and culturally authentic stories.
“At Encantos, we always want kids and families to be inspired by our characters, stories and brands,” said Susie Jaramillo, President and Chief Creative Officer, Encantos. “ISSA’S EDIBLE ADVENTURES has all the ingredients we love: a multi-talented, passionate creator, an adorable lead character, and a universal message that everyone can connect with about food and family.”
A first generation American whose parents are Tanzanian and Indo-Pakistani immigrants, LeeKong developed her insights into cooking through a lens that layered culture upon culture. “My parents spoke different languages so I was never quite sure to which side of my family a particular dish or word belonged to, but everything about food was celebratory and joyful in my home,” said Aliya LeeKong, Creator of ISSA’S EDIBLE ADVENTURES. “The idea that cultures can blend with one another to create amazing food is one that is instinctive to me.” LeeKong’s cooking style is truly “American” as it embodies personal reinvention and speaks to the country’s increasing diversity and multiculturalism. Both her multicultural upbringing and her world travels not only inspires her cooking, but also informs her awareness of global issues as related to food security, women’s rights and roles, and children’s education. LeeKong is a leading voice on issues related to food waste, food education and female empowerment in and beyond the hospitality industry.
LeeKong trained at the International Culinary Center, has traveled to dozens of different countries to learn food traditions, and worked in a number of world-famous New York City restaurants including Jean Georges, Per Se, and Junoon. Her first cookbook, Exotic Table – Flavors, Inspiration, and Recipes from Around the World – to Your Kitchen was named “Best of the Best” by Food & Wine magazine. She currently serves as the Chief Culinary Officer for RealEats, a food tech platform that makes it simple for consumers to access and enjoy a variety of real food.
“Aliya LeeKong is a visionary culinary talent who’s comfortable being a creative chef as well as a creative storyteller,” said Steven Wolfe Pereira, Chief Executive Officer at Encantos. “This brand has it all – fun, diverse characters, action-packed adventures, 21st century skills and an important message for today’s kids around food, nutrition and culture. We’re thrilled to partner with her and bring ISSA’S EDIBLE ADVENTURES into the Encantos family.”
Encantos is on a mission to inspire 21st century kids to reach their potential through 21st century skills. Using the power of entertainment & technology to reimagine education for the direct-to-consumer age, Encantos builds purpose-driven family brands focused on kids 14 & under including Canticos, Skeletitos and Tiny Travelers. It’s learner-centered approach and stage-based digital and physical offerings include apps, books, consumer products, subscription services and videos, and have received accolades and awards from Common Sense Media, Kidscreen, Kirkus Reviews, Parents Magazine and School Library Journal. For more information, visit encantosbrands.com and follow @encantosbrands on instagram and twitter.
ABOUT ALIYA LEEKONG
Aliya LeeKong trained at the International Culinary Center in New York after earning degrees from both Brown University and Columbia University. An award-winning chef, she honed her skills by staging and working on the line at such reputable restaurants as New York City’s Jean Georges, Per Se, and Junoon as well as at a number of small ethnic restaurants in and around the city. LeeKong has been a guest chef on NBC’s Today Show, a judge on Food Network shows Kitchen Casino, Beat Bobby Flay, and Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition, a culinary expert on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and has been widely covered in publications like Food & Wine, Vogue India, Shape, Oprah, Eater, and Food Republic. For more information, visit aliyaleekong.com and follow @aliyaleekong on instagram and twitter.