I’m Leanne, the founder of Bento Picnic. I founded Bento Picnic in 2015 to bring delicious, healthy bento meals to Austin.
At Bento Picnic, I only serve food that I love - and I hope you love it too! My goal is to make it easy for you to nourish yourself and your people — family, colleagues, guests, whoever! — with really delicious food. Whether you are hosting an event that you’d like to have catered, looking for a casual cafe for a lunch or dinner date, wanting to send meals as a care package for loved ones, or simply need to pick up a couple meals to get you through a busy week, my team and I are here for you! And because we cater to a variety of dietary needs and preferences, you can be sure to find something to delight everyone.
Our mission is to make delicious, nourishing meals to carry you through your day, and I hope to have the chance to serve you soon!
My love for Japanese homestyle cooking sprung from a friendship. Naoko and I met playing street hockey back in the day, but we became really good friends when we started volunteering at Johnson’s Backyard Garden in 2007. We were paid in vegetables for our work, so we would head straight from the farm to Naoko’s apartment where we would cook up elaborate dinners and lunches for the week. Naoko grew up in rural Japan, about 2 hours south of Tokyo, and she amazed me because she knew a million and half delicious ways to prepare ALL the vegetables. Oftentimes we would make completely gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free meals, and they were always incredibly satiating — like nothing was missing. Growing up in Houston in an Italian/Czech household, this was mind blowing to me.
I followed my curiosity about Japanese cooking further by enrolling in a culinary program at the Natural Epicurean when it was at Casa de Luz in 2009. It was there that I learned about Washoku, the Japanese tradition of making complete balanced meals.
But it was not until I went to Japan to live with Naoko’s family in 2011 that I was fully immersed in Washoku. Then my understanding of its potency really started to solidify. The more I experienced Washoku-made meals, the more I realized this was the magic at play behind the meals that Naoko and I would make after our days on the farm. It was the key to making meals that were reliably delicious AND healthy. Ever since then, Washoku has become the cornerstone of my personal cooking philosophy, and it is at the foundation the concept and menu at Bento Picnic.
Hope to see you at my shop soon!