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Entrepreneurial f The Premier Magazine For Food Entrepreneurs

Che

How To PITCH

Food Friendly INVESTORS

December 2017 Issue 18

Including:

Elliott Farmer Brother Luck Ray Lampe

—

Considerations Before Buying

FOOD BUSINESS INSURANCE

+

A Locally Sourced

MARKETING STRATEGY

Lofaso Antonia


Entrepreneurial f Che

Magazine

December 2017 Volume 2 Issue #18 Publisher Rennew Media, LLC Editor Shawn Wenner Contributing Editor Katharine Rankin Staff Writer Jenna Rimensnyder Graphic Designer Rusdi Saleh Cover Antonia Lofaso Cover Photographer Dylan + Jeni Contributors Rebecca Hosley, Deb Cantrell, Jeff Grandfield, Dale Willerton, Joyce Appelman, Ali Redmond, Caroline Halter, Megan Wenzl Photo Credits Jamie & Natalie Photography, Bravo Media, Tommy Garcia, Will Rutledge, Dylan + Jeni, Jakob N. Layman, Djamel Photography Special Thanks Antonia Lofaso, Chani Hitt, Elliott Farmer, Brother Luck, Ray Lampe The opinions of columnists and contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by Entrepreneurial Chef and/or Rennew Media, LLC. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any fashion without the expressed consent of Rennew Media, LLC. For advertising information, letters to the editor, or submission inquiries, please email: Contact@EntrepreneurialChef.Com. Entrepreneurial Chef donates a portion of advertising & editorial space to C-CAP, CORE, NRAEF & Share Our Strength: No Kid Hungry. All Rights Reserved © 2017 Entrepreneurial Chef Published by Rennew Media, LLC 3

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Editor’s Note

A

s I stare at the calendar, there are five words that come to mind, “where has the time gone?” I’m not sure about you, but the fact that it’s already December is mindboggling to me. In any case, as the year wraps up and we begin planning to ring in yet another, I’d be remiss to not express the profound amount of gratitude I have for you and every member of the community. You see, it was merely last year when I embarked on a journey to serve culinary and hospitality professionals. Filled with passion and fueled by purpose, I watched YouTube videos on “how to build a website” and “launch a magazine,” but to be completely transparent, it was incredibly daunting. Fast forward to today, with close to 5,000 subscribers to Entrepreneurial Chef and an amazing community, I’m grateful for all the support from thousands of incredible people across the globe – yourself included. To pull off building a platform these days it takes more one person – a core team, early adopters, and raving fans are all required to keep things afloat. Thankfully, we’ve been blessed to find our tribe of supporters who have promoted our efforts within their networks and contributed to our rapid growth. As we bring in the New Year, we promise to reciprocate with content that inspires and delivers value to support our audiences’ entrepreneurial hopes and dreams. As always, I hope this issue offers fresh ideas, inspiration, and actionable advice, but even more, I hope you have a heartwarming holiday season and safe passage into the New Year. Until 2018,


Contents 40 36 54 58

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Editor’s Note............................................3 Brother Luck Push the Boundaries & Sign Your Own Checks ............................................7 The Art of Pitching Food-Friendly Investors...................... 19 Elliott Farmer Anything is Possible if You Just Believe ............................... 25

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5 Things to Consider Before Buying Insurance for Your Food Business....................................... 36 Antonia Lofaso From Failure to Fame & Creating Opportunities ...................... 40

25 62

A Locally-Sourced Marketing Strategy............................... 54 When Should You Hire a Business Coach?................................ 58 Ray Lampe Dr. BBQ Talks Branding, Screen-Time & Legacy ........................ 62 Building the Perfect Cocktail Program.................................. 72 2017 Pitch Your Dish Contest Winners!................................. 76

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The Importance of Time, Timelines, and Timing with Your Commercial Lease....................................................... 81


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Bleu


Success Story

Brother Luck:

Push the Boundaries

& Sign Your Own Checks

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Success Story

No days

Brother Luck is the chef-owner of IV by Brother Luck in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a television personality, and true food entrepreneur. Luck’s accolades include being named “Best Local Chef” by Colorado Springs Independent, having the “Most Cutting Edge Restaurant” by The Gazette Newspaper, and winning Food Network’s, Beat Bobby Flay, where he wowedjudges with his love of pork. Luck was also a finalist on Food Network’s Chopped “Beast Feast” episode, where Alex Guarnaschelli called him “a wizard in the plating department,” and most recently a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 15.

Since the age of 14, Luck has been working in professional kitchens fine-tuning his culinary depth and deepening his love of food. It hasn’t been easy though, not for Luck, but his internal fortitude carried him through the roughest of times. At the tender age of 10, Luck’s father passed away, while shortly after his mother would begin serving prison time. Fending for himself through adolescence was admittedly some of the roughest years of his life, but eventually, an incredibly kind woman with one rule, “go to school and graduate,” would take Luck into her household. 8

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By 16 year of age, Luck began studying culinary arts with Careers through Culinary Arts Program at Metro Tech High School in Phoenix, Arizona, and it changed the course of his life. The kitchen became a place where his passion for food was fueled, and he noticeably excelled. Competing in C-CAP’s Arizona Cooking Competition for Scholarships, Luck was awarded scholarships and was named Art Institutes “Best Teen Chef” in 2001. As Luck says, “being part of C-CAP and having been mentored from the beginning by my teacher Jim Holman and founder Richard Grausman gave me the skills and the confidence I needed to succeed.” While attending Art Institute, Luck studied with Chinese Master Chef Bill Sy, where he was dazzled by the most beautiful fruit and vegetable carvings and Dim Sum prepared so elegantly he couldn’t process his ease of the skill. In 2016, Luck received a scholarship from The Gohan Society to travel to Japan and explore its cuisine, along with a scholarship from The Joyce Chen and Helen Chen Foundation, extending his cultural experience into China – an experience that touched him at his core. Though currently a chef-owner, Luck has worked in kitchens around the world such as Takitei and Kinjhoro Ryokansin Kanazawa, Japan, The Craftwood Inn in Manitou Springs, the Hotel Contessa in San Antonio featuring restaurant Las Ramblas, the World of Whirlpool facility in Chicago, the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, and Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. From startinga solo venture in the back of a local punk rock bar in Colorado Springs to creating a “Street Foods Tour,” opening several restaurants, being awarded the Avero NY Restaurant Experience, and cooking at the James Beard House, Brother Luck has stacked quite the accomplishments, yet remains just as humble and passionate for food and serving others as ever before.


Success Story

Q&A The

with

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Brother Luck

Was there something that helped kick off your culinary journey?

Eighteen years ago I sat in a culinary high school program that changed my life. I was introduced to Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a program that defined the meaning of opportunity and provided me with confidence that I could become successful if I worked hard for it. As a high school senior, I stood before a door of choosing the right career path and cooking became the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur.

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What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?

I decided to jump off the ledge into entrepreneurship because I had spent the last 12 years learning mistakes with other people’s money while gaining experience in people management, fiscal responsibility, and cooking. I had lots of great ideas but continuously met resistance by ownership when I would present them. I knew that if I wanted to push the boundaries, then I would have to be the one signing the checks.


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What was your first business and how did you get started?

I started my business with the idea of a food truck. I felt that if I was going to own a food truck, then I would need to spend some time working on them. After my second day working on a food truck, I knew that it was not where I wanted to be. I had all of the core pieces in place to launch my business including insurance, federal employer identification number, sales tax licenses, payment processing, and legal entities, under the name Brother Luck Street Eats. I decided to start hosting small pop up dinners in the back of a local bar that had a kitchen and wasn’t using it. These dinners eventually led to my executing the concept back there full time. A food truck without the truck.

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What were the biggest hurdles when starting your first business and how did you overcome? The biggest hurdles I encountered when I first opened all related to a fear of failure. Making the decision to leave a steady corporate check with benefits and venturing into the abyss of entrepreneurship was terrifying. Lots of questions crossed my mind including: How will we survive? What if I fail? Will people be receptive? Can I do it? My wife gave me the greatest advice that put all of these questions in my mind at ease: “If your greatest fear is failing, then that’s not a good enough reason to not do it. It’s just money that we can’t take with us when we’re gone so if we screw this up then we can always try again.” She is truly the unsung hero in my story. 10

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I had lots of great ideas but continuously met resistance by ownership when I would present them.

5

Many struggle with funding their ventures, as such, do you have advice in relation to funding? When it comes to finding the funding needed to start a business, there is too much advice on how to approach that discussion. It took me three years of researching, courting investors, discussing partnerships, and talking with loan officers before we made a decision. I was watching a documentary on an auto body business called West Coast Customs, and the owner said he was given the advice by his grandfather to start the business for the smallest amount possible so he could make profits faster. I thought about that and new I would find a turnkey restaurant to begin my business and save on startup costs. It took only $5,000 to start our business and keep it on cash flow. Investors and partners are always approaching me, but I like having control of what I do. Call me stubborn, but I don’t like being indebted or controlled by other people.


Success Story

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What would you say are key elements for running a successful food business?

I think the key elements to running a successful food business is “you’re only as good as your day off.” With that mindset, you have to focus on training your people. It’s taken me almost 20 years of education to understand the basics of my cookery and most of my employees are new

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to the industry. It’s my main priority to ensure I get the information out of my head and onto a sheet of paper. Effective communication along with setting measurable expectations is key to running a successful food business.

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What are some cautions people should have in relation to starting a food business?

Starting a business requires a full commitment to ensure it survives and becomes profitable. I feel anyone looking to start a food business needs to understand that cooking is only a small portion of making the business successful. Understanding local, state, and federal laws when it comes to your tax responsibilities is just the beginning. Employee and guest management is one of the most common skills I see missing from independent businesses. Pay attention to motivating your staff, constantly developing and mentoring their success, maintaining a positive work environment, and always staying professional with your responses.

8 I knew that if I wanted to push the boundaries, then I would have to be the one signing the checks. 11

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Are there unique marketing strategies you use to drive new customers or awareness?

Being in today’s age of social media I’ve truly embraced it as a main source of marketing. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, all cost nothing and have the ability to connect you directly to the guest. I strive to build a brand that keeps our clientele involved in the story. They should feel connected to the business and want to help you succeed. Quick 30 sec videos, emotions, and stories spark interest as they stroll through the various media streams.


Success Story

Making the decision to leave a steady corporate check with benefits and venturing into the abyss of entrepreneurship was terrifying.

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Success Story

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Are there menu-engineering strategies you implement when building your menu?

The hardest part when constructing a menu is removing the chef’s ego. Understanding that even though you find something impressive or interesting, will the main demographic of our restaurant feel the same. We have to find the main drivers in our market and capitalize on those dishes. Menu items also need to be smart with food costs so utilizing offal cuts of meats while making the dish approachable to the guests will help with cost savings.

Effective communication along with setting measurable expectations is key to running a successful food business.

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How have your appearances on Food Networks Beat Bobby Flay and Chopped helped with your career?

I never wanted any notoriety or television fame when I started out cooking. I fell in love with the kitchen and the infinite education it offers. Watching the influence of the “Celebrity Chef” on our customer base as an entrepreneur made me realize that people want to be apart of that recognition. Doing shows like Beat Bobby Flay, Chopped, and appearing on season 15 of Bravo’s Top Chef, have helped my business significantly but only because I capitalize in marketing that image for my brand during the airings. There is a huge difference between cooking and entertainment. My suggestion to anyone looking to pursue that route is to remember that all fame dies away and you need to keep your reality in check because it’s easy to get lost in the fame, which doesn’t really exist.


Success Story

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What’s been the hardest part about working for yourself and how do you manage this?

The hardest part about working for myself is holding myself accountable to always doing the right thing. I was very fortunate to be trained in leadership, finances, and cooking early in my career while working with hospitality management groups across the country. I’m constantly reminding myself that every corporate business started as an independent. We make the decisions to build our business properly or not when it comes to policies, standards, morals, and ethics. I also keep really smart people around me that are great at what they do. I stay involved by asking questions and showing interest because I’m learning, but they are experts where I’m not.

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What was the biggest mistake you made in business and the lesson you walked away with? My biggest mistake that I’ve made in my business so far has been hiring on necessity instead of quality. I now refuse to hire “band-aids” and will work extra hours if it requires getting the right person for the job with a great attitude. 14

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Anyone looking to start a food business needs to understand that cooking is only a small portion of making the business successful. I’ve also had to learn how to trust and delegate to my team. I’m constantly seeing my team searching for opportunities to show initiative or take on more responsibilities. I have to get out of their way so they can help me accomplish more.

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What are some of the most important elements required for being a successful food entrepreneur? I would say that being aware of your brand’s perception is key within your staff and customer base. How do they perceive and is it accurate to the core business values created during the conception of the business? Don’t be afraid to read guest commentary and talk with your team. It’s hard not to take negative comments personally, but at the end of the day, it’s just a business.


Success Story

Pay attention to motivating your staff, constantly developing and mentoring their success, maintaining a positive work environment, and always staying professional with your responses.

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Success Story

Entrepreneurship is the most stressful freedom in the world.

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Having multiple business ventures, what’s your process for evaluating whether something is worth the time, energy, and money? When I’m looking at the next business venture or idea, there are a few topics that help me decide if it’s worth it. Does it make sense for my family? How much time will this take and what am I sacrificing? Does it represent our brand properly and further the brand? What’s the return on investment projections and who’s involved? Do the parties’ involved have similar ethics? How much ownership do I have in the project? Is it worth it? Am I excited about the project?

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What do you feel are some worthwhile business opportunities emerging in the industry today? Branding is everything. Ferran Adria said, “You don’t make money in restaurants, you make it in branding. Restaurants are all about education and passion which cost more than they make.” I’m more focused on building a brand 16

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that people want to be apart of which in return will bring profitable endorsement deals. The more relatable I am will mean the more approachable I am. I think there are many ways to make money in this industry such as clothing apparel, equipment development, or contract consulting but everyone has a different perception of success.

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Any final thoughts for the aspiring food entrepreneurs we serve?

Entrepreneurship is the most stressful freedom in the world. You have the ability to do whatever you want, but there are always consequences to your decisions. The decisions you make as an entrepreneur affect more people than just yourself. Photo Credits: Jamie & Natalie Photography, Bravo Media, Tommy Garcia, Will Rutledge Joyce Appelman is the National Communications Director for C-CAP, Careers through Culinary Arts Program in New York, NY. She has been instrumental in opening career opportunities for many young people in the foodservice industry. Email her at joyceappelman@gmail.com


Top Ten Takeaways from Brother Luck 1

Entrepreneurship can be the most stressful freedom in the world.

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Effective communication along with setting measurable expectations is key to running a successful food business.

2

Spend time working in a business you’d ultimately like to own; it will give clarity to whether or not it’s the right fit.

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3

The decision to leave a steady job and paycheck and venturing into entrepreneurship is oftentimes terrifying – no matter who you are.

Pay attention to motivating your staff, constantly developing and mentoring their success, maintaining a positive work environment, and always being professional with your responses.

8

Sometimes if you want to push boundaries, you have to be the one signing the checks.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your business is hiring out of necessity instead of quality.

9

Building a strong and trusted personal brand can unlock various ways to diversify your talents as a food entrepreneur.

10

Always try to hire people who are smarter than you, they will raise the bar in your business.

4

5

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Anyone looking to start a food business should understand that cooking is only a small portion of making the business successful.

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Co-chaired by Chef Marcus Samuelsson, Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is a national non-profit that promotes and provides career opportunities for underserved youth through culinary arts education and employment. WHO DOES C-CAP SERVE?

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

17,500+ students 211 public high school teachers 168 schools 5,000+ industry partners

Mentor or hire a sudent Donate products or equipment Support our programs and scholarships Host a fundraising event

@CCAPInc For information or to get involved: contact us at info@ccapinc.org, (212) 974-1711, or visit www.ccapinc.org Founded in 1990 by Richard Grausman


Pitching Investors

The Art of Pitching Food-Friendly Investors By: Caroline Halter

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Pitching Investors

ply: “The pitch has to tell a story. It has to appeal to the heart or the mind.”

Whether you love it or hate it, pitching is part of the startup game.

W

ith some help from participants from two pitch competitions sponsored by PieShell, FoodBytes in New York City and Food Funded in San Francisco, we’ve concocted some helpful guidelines for crafting and delivering the perfect pitch.

Another thing you can do is present the problem you’re solving in a unique way. Berlin Kelly, one of the co-founders of Proud Pour said she starts off by laying out surprising statistics. Her wine company restores endangered oyster habitats, so she starts off her pitch by telling the audience that New Yorkers drop a whopping 11 million dollars a day on alcohol. Meanwhile, we’ve lost 95% of America’s oyster’s reefs. Not a bad way to get the conversation started!

Keep it Short “It should be shorter than you think,” said Berlin, who won the 60-second pitch round at FoodBytes. She said that it’s important to craft a pitch that’s short and sweet.

In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to grab the audience’s attention right off the bat. As Sims McCormick, one of the founders of Real Oyster Cult put it, “What’s the hook?”

There’s a rule of thumb in the marketing world that goes by the acronym KISS. It’s one of PieShell founder Cheryl Clements’ favorites for pitching. It stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” To follow this rule, ask yourself if every piece of information, every image, every line is essential to your pitch. Does it add something new? If you took it out, would it matter? This is a good way to make sure your pitch doesn’t get too lengthy.

Nothing “hooks” people better than a good story. Using a short anecdote at the beginning of your pitch is a great way to get people’s attention and keep them interested. Victor Penev, one of our very first PieShellers, runs a food tech company called Edamam. He put it sim-

The maximum length of your pitch should be about three minutes, but once you get really good, three minutes will seem like a lot of time. You’ll know you’ve got it nailed when just one minute seems like more than enough time to get the job done.

Tell a Story

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Pitching Investors

Show Them the Money! Yes, storytelling is important. And yes, we all love companies with a good social cause. But remember that the end goal of a pitch is to get one step closer to funding. You’d be surprised how many people neglect to mention their business model, even when they’re standing in front of the people holding the purse strings.

You’d be surprised how many people neglect to mention their business model.

Your revenue model should be explicitly stated in the pitch, leaving no question as to how an investor will get his or her money back — and make a little extra.

Prove Yourself In addition to explaining your business model, you need to illustrate that you’ve got what it takes to implement said business model. The best way to do that is to brag a little. This is the part of the pitch where you lay out your metrics — revenue, growth, number of retail locations, market size, etc. You can also include some more qualitative details. For example, perhaps you were chosen to be part of an accelerator program, or maybe you’ve won a competition of some sort. It’s those key indicators that establish you as a serious contender for funding.

those of you who want a little more structure.

It could also be a place to reveal your key insights about the problem or your customer that others don’t yet have — what makes you uniquely qualified to solve this problem better than anyone else?

3. Money Maker: Explain in the simplest of terms how you make money. This may also include how much you’re asking for, depending on the circumstances.

1. The Hook: An anecdote or problem statement that grabs the audience’s attention. 2. Who You Are/What You Do: Introduce your company, what you do, and how you do it.

Including your track record is an important part of winning over investors, because they want to see that you’ve been successful to some degree without their funding.

4. Proof of Concept/Fancy Numbers: Use numbers and markers of success to demonstrate traction, feasibility, and potential for growth.

What Goes Where?

5. End Cap: Tie it up in a pretty bow by referring back to your hook. Think of it like the second bookend that signals the end of the pitch.

We spoke about starting your pitch with a hook. But where does everything else go? There’s no right answer, but there’s a general flow that tends to work for most people. This is, of course, flexible, but we’re laying it out for 21

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Feel free to move things around to suit your needs. If you’re new to pitching, follow this format, and then play around with the different elements.


Pitching Investors

Slide, Slide, Slipity Slide It’s not always the case, but you’ll often use slides when pitching.

your best to learn about their portfolios, interests, and idiosyncrasies. Then tailor your pitch to what you know they care about and be willing to change your angle to suit their interests.

Slides should be simple but compelling. Stick to images rather than words. As Berlin put it, “Use the slides to show what you can’t say yourself.” That might mean showcasing your product, or it might mean evoking emotion with a compelling photo or including a graphic of how your company or product works.

Public Speaking

Whatever you do, don’t load up your deck with a bunch of words that will distract people from what you’re saying. It was true in college, and it’s even more so when pitching!

Victor said that he’s been giving a variation of his pitch for about 5 years now, but he still messes up every now and then. However, he’s polished enough that he’s able to easily gloss over mistakes. Another entrepreneur at FoodBytes complimented Victor on his recovery after he briefly blanked. In fact, they saw it as a positive because it showed that he was confident enough to remain cool under pressure.

Know Your Audience Who you’re pitching to matters. A lot. You should always do prior research on the investors in the audience. This should shape your pitch. Perhaps you’ll emphasize the social cause over the product itself. Or maybe you’ll highlight your recent growth over the social cause. It all depends on who you’re talking to. Usually, investors have different niches. Do

Part of being good at pitching is being comfortable with public speaking. For most of us, that’s a stretch. But luckily, the more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become in front of an audience.

Victor has even gotten comfortable enough to improvise in the moment and have a little fun. Developing your own style is key, and becoming comfortable with public speaking will allow you to play around with your personal presentation style until it evolves into something that’s both effective and authentic.

Part of being good at pitching is being comfortable with public speaking.

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Pitching Investors

You may have the perfect script, a killer slideshow, and brilliant metrics, but there is no substitute for passion — showcasing your enthusiasm is essential!

Bring Your Passion You may have the perfect script, a killer slideshow, and brilliant metrics, but there is no substitute for passion — showcasing your enthusiasm is essential! Sims said, “You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if it’s not delivered passionately, then it’s not going to resonate with your audience.” At PieShell, we’ve never met a foodpreneur who wasn’t bursting at the seams with passion about his or her project, but not everyone can let it flow when they’re under pressure. As we said in the section before, practice is key. When you’ve practiced pitching enough, the words become second nature, and you can let go. If you’re not well practiced, the nerves will take over, and you may come off as stiff or unenthusiastic. So start by pitching to friends and family, graduate to networking events, and 23

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start thinking about every time you talk about your company as a pitch. Getting comfortable is the first step to letting your passion shine through under pressure.

Wisdom of the Crowd Many new food-oriented VC’s are popping up, which means there are more opportunities than ever to pitch and get funded.

Caroline Halter is a content writer for PieShell. She thrives on finding the most interesting ways to tell stories and spark conversation. Follow along at blog.pieshell.com


Need to fund a food + beverage idea? We can help! Hi. We’re PieShell. A crowdfunding platform that caters specifically to food + beverage entrepreneurs.

Visit PieShell.com to start your project today!

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“The PieShell community helped me make a huge transition in my business. That change has me on track to TRIPLE my revenue in 2017 compared with last year.”

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Success Story

Elliott Farmer

Anything is Possible if You Just Believe 25

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Success Story

Author,

speaker, personality and radio host, Elliott Farmer is an Atlanta native who feels at home in the kitchen as it represents passion, creative freedom, and family. Working alongside today’s most respected chefs, Farmer travels to various conferences and food events sharing his signature recipe tips with the culinary community. Appearing at places such as Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, The Country Living Fair, Taste of the Runway NYC, Atlantic City’s Wine and Food Festival, and having airtime on various Food Network programs, Farmer is no doubt in his element. Growing up in the south, Farmer initially viewed cooking as a “chore” that was fairly “hated.” However, as a teenager, he would be introduced to three influential chefs at a hotel restaurant who launched his culinary career. While climbing the culinary ladder from busboy to sous chef, and simultaneously studying medicine and education, a company downsizing would become the catalyst for Farmer to venture into food entrepreneurship with his catering company Farmer’s Kitchen in 2002. Farmer recalls feeling like a “higher power was telling me to go into catering full-time.” 26

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Incredibly, as a first-time caterer, and only a year in business, Famer submitted a bid for a government catering contract and bested the competition to be awarded a million-dollar-a-year gig with a four-year renewal – he was officially in business. After dialing in his formula, Farmer would scale to serving 28,000 meals per day. By 2006, Farmer ventured into restaurant ownership after careful market research indicated a hole in the Metro-Atlanta market for soul food. After a series of ups and downs, however, a change in the local traffic pattern dramatically reduced Farmer’s foot-traffic and the restaurant was forced to close. Even still, Farmer wasn’t done with restaurant ownership and eventually open the acclaimed Farmer’s Gourmet Catering & Restaurant – a place that became a go-to spot for local celebrities. With an ambition to become more of a household name, Farmer linked up with a celebrity publicist and began a thoughtful and strategic plan to build his personal brand. Launching a radio show and connecting with renowned chefs across the globe eventually put Farmer in the crosshairs of the Food Network. As they say, the rest was history as his airtime began to take shape. Along the way, Farmer also authored two cookbooks, Entertaining with Soul, and Chef Elliott’s Soulstice Recipes: Gourmet Entertaining Solutions, in his thoughtful pursuit of building his personal brand. What’s unique about Farmer is not only does he cook for his community, he supports it as well. He uses his celebrity platform and radio show to raise awareness and money for “Feeding America’s Hungry Children,” the not-for-profit organization providing the basic human need for a severely under-served child population in our country. Between his humanitarian work, appearances, cookbooks, and cooking, its evident Farmer is living his passion and purpose while sharing his love of food with the world.


Success Story

& QA The

with

1

Elliott Farmer

Can you give a little background about yourself?

I grew up in the south where cooking was a chore, and I hated it [laughs]. As a teenager, I worked in a hotel restaurant as a busboy, and we were responsible for creating the happy hour menu – a very upscale gourmet buffet. On my first day on the job, the three chefs told me they would show me how to create the menu. On the second day, they said they’d guide me. On my third day, I was on my own! It was a challenge, but that’s what sparked my interest in food and culinary arts. I stayed with them for about 20 years, from a busboy to sous chef, working part-time as I got my education. Never in my wildest dreams did I think to make my career in cooking. I pursued medicine, then education, and eventually taught college-level nursing. Then I got a master’s degree and a doctorate in psychology. It was being downsized 17 years ago that felt like a higher power was telling me to go into catering full-time. Since then, it’s been a 27

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rollercoaster ride, but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I love to see the smiles or witness that “oh my goodness” look after someone has tasted my cooking.

2

Was your catering company your first entrepreneurial venture?

Yes. In the beginning, we ran it out of my kitchen, so we called it Farmer’s Kitchen. It was a full-time commitment, and it was very taxing financially. Because that was my first entrepreneurial venture, I didn’t know how to operate a business, manage payroll, or properly order things. There were no YouTube tutorials back then, so it was all trial and error. It was hard as hell, and I was really going on faith. I had two drivers, and we’d deliver dinners to the staff at local hair salons, barbershops, and hospitals. One doctor once chose us to cater a small event, which opened the door to catering other events by their colleagues.


3 Success Story

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What’s your advice for those entering the world of food entrepreneurship?

Do your homework before you start, and have some working capital saved up. Know your clientele, and have a dedicated business space [not your home]. Get the proper documents and your business license in order, and make sure you have liability insurance. Have all of those things in place because you never know what’s going to happen.

4

When did you open the restaurant and how did this come about?

That came four or five years after starting the catering company, but it was a year into the catering company that we had a huge, unheard of, big break. I received an e-mail from one of the counties in Metro-Atlanta asking me if I was willing to bid on this government food contract. The contract was [about] 20 pages long, and it scared me to death, but I said okay. The procurement officer for the contract let me look at a previous bid from their [then-contractor], who they didn’t really want to hire again. I took notes, and basically copied it word for word and changed the name to Farmer’s Kitchen, and I reduced my per meal price by 10 cents [laughs]. I had been struggling [up to that point], I didn’t have any working capital, and my very first time bidding I was awarded a million-dollar-a-year contract with a four-year renewal. The first six months of that contract was very demanding; we had to figure out how to deliver 18,000 meals a day. Once we figured out how

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to schedule deliveries and cooking time, we got into a groove, and other bids came across my desk. We ended up averaging 28,000 meals a day over the next four years. After about three or so years into the contract, I opened up my first restaurant because then I had working capital to do so and I had jelled with my staff that had been with me at least three years. We had become a family.

5

Any surprises you encountered when opening that first restaurant?

How large the utility bills would be [laughs]! When we first got the government contract, I was able to rent a facility. Seeing how large those electrical and gas bills and water bills were for a commercial property was very alarming, so that took a month or two to get used to.

Don’t get too important, or think that you’ve arrived and that’s it.


6 Success Story

6

Before you opened the restaurant, what planning was involved to increase your chances of success?

I knew I wanted to open up a soul food restaurant, so I started by driving around Atlanta to see where there was a demand for it. I also checked out the competition, and so I would go to a Southern restaurant and become a regular customer. I put myself in the consumer’s shoes and thought about what would make me return, and why I would always want to go there. I also saw the pricing of my competitors. I talked to my food suppliers’ sales reps to see what kind of they could givechef me. I did that for about 29 deals entrepreneurial a year before I actually chose a spot in the city.

7

What factors helped you settle on the location?

The rent [laughs]. The second determining factor was the demand in the area for Southern cuisine. I went to different supermarkets and made conversation, asking, “Where you can get some good soul food?” People told me I had to go across town, or that they wished there was a place in the area. A year of doing

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that demographic research helped me to pick the location.

8

What was it like scaling from one business to two and was there anything that helped you along the way? Believe it or not, it was kind of a smooth sail. I had people around me that were giving me great advice because I had joined the Georgia Restaurant Association and went to meetings to hear what other food industry entrepreneurs were doing, and how they solved their problems. We kept the restaurant totally separate from the catering, not mixing the money or profits, and they each ran on their own merit. We would sometimes share staff, but it wasn’t really bad at all looking back.

The classroom doesn’t stop because you graduate, there is always room for learning.


Success Story

If you have a passion for it, everything else is going to fall into place. It will be as if you’re going to the playground instead of going to work.

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Success Story

Don’t always think you have to be paid to work with someone because the experience that you get is more valuable.

9

How did you market your businesses or build awareness?

We didn’t have social media then, so for the catering company we created flyers and I would advertise in the local magazines [for the restaurant]. The magazine had a 500,000 circulation in doctor’s offices and larger supermarkets, etc., which was where my target customers would be – that was the key. And from that one magazine, I probably saw a 30 percent increase [in restaurant sales] over six months.

10

Can you share why you closed the restaurant and how your second one became a big hit? The first one closed because the city installed a median in the road that slowed down traffic to me and a lot of businesses nearby. It probably saved some lives of people crossing the street, but it certainly dampened the restaurant business, and we closed for about a year. I was still operating the catering company by [going] back to the facility we had rented to fulfill the government contracts. When we found the second location and opened, the space was a big enough to host inhouse catering for events and meetings. On the suggestion of a church member, we added an open mic night twice a month. I didn’t know it, but that [church member] knew some famous singers and artists, and that drew a crowd. Police officers ended up coming to direct traffic it became so big. A lot of those people became regular customers. And when they knew that we catered, some celebrities would choose us to cater their events. That’s what started us catering to celebrities.

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11 Success Story

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At one point, you re-branded the catering company and began building a personal brand, so can you talk about this pivot and how you got traction?

After closing the second restaurant closed from flooding, and the economic crisis, I wasn’t getting a lot of events. I went back into nursing, and I was thinking of changing the name or closing, but people told me to hang in there. I can’t remember exactly why, but I knew that I did not want to not be known as only a soul food caterer, and I changed the name from Farmer’s Kitchen to Farmer’s Gourmet Catering. I wanted to reach a higher clientele, so we created a new look and a new logo. [To help get my name out there], someone told me I needed a media kit, but I didn’t know what that was or how to put it together. I asked around and was introduced to a publicist in Washington D.C. She and I communicated via phone, and she put together a media kit for me within one day that made me look like a superstar! At the time I didn’t know she was a celebrity publicist. She asked what I wanted [from my career], and where I saw myself in five years. I said I wanted to be on TV [laughs], and for people to know me as they know Emeril or Bobby Flay. She said the best way to do that was to host a radio talk show, so people would know my name and voice before they saw my face. It took me a year to agree to that, and on my show, I interviewed celebrity chefs. That show was noticed by the Food Network about a year in, and they called and asked me to refer chefs to be on some of their competition shows. [From that], I eventually became a contestant on Cutthroat Kitchen.

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12

What advice would you give to those trying to get where you are now?

They should not do it for the money or fame, but because they have a passion for it. If you have a passion for it, everything else is going to fall into place. It will be as if you’re going to the playground instead of going to work when you’re passionate about it. And if you are trying to get to the celebrity-status level, invest in a publicist and a PR team. You need to position people around you to help you because you can’t do it by yourself. If you think that you can do it by yourself, you’re going to be by yourself. Keep these in mind: Do your research. Continue to re-brand yourself. Always make yourself relevant. Stay current with what’s trending in your field. Know what’s new for culinary artists, chefs, and caterers in the culinary industry. Always stay up on your craft because there are constantly people coming up behind you who will be better than you. Don’t get too important, or think that you’ve arrived and that’s it. Remain humble and approachable to your fans.


Success Story

13

What final advice would you give to aspiring food entrepreneurs that make up our readership? If you want to be a chef, I recommend that you actually take some formal classes and/or go to culinary school. There’s a big range: there are six to nine-month programs, two-year programs, or certificate classes. Look into it, because a lot of times you don’t have that on the job training like I was afforded decades ago. And always know that the classroom doesn’t stop because you graduate. There is always room for learning and positioning yourself around those chefs who are doing it, to see if they will show you some things. Whenever I go to food and wine shows I hook up with other celebrities who are on a larger scale than I am. And I say, “Listen, I’m

here. I would love to be your sous chef.” Don’t always think you have to be paid to work with someone because the experience that you get is more valuable. They’re going to remember your name, and when paid gigs come up, they’ll send for you. I’m a witness. Don’t turn down those free gigs when they may come. I’m not saying take every last one, but you have to give if you want to succeed.

th

get to If you are tr ying to 33

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m. tea

nvest in a pub i , l e v e l s licist tu a t s and y t i r b aP e l e R ec


Top Ten Takeaways from Elliott Farmer 1 2 3

4

5

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It’s crucial for entrepreneurs to maintain a growth mindset to never stop learning. It’s okay if you’re first entrepreneurial venture is small and allows you to test your idea and abilities. Continue to refine your craft and never rest on your laurels or feel like you’ve “arrived.” Prior to starting your business make sure to do proper research and have enough working capital to sustain until the business becomes profitable. If you want to build a strong personal brand, invest in a good publicist.

entrepreneurial chef

6

Don’t feel like you have to do everything by yourself.

7

Surround yourself with people who are at the level you would like to be, and you’ll find yourself rising with the tide.

8

No matter how successful you become, always remain humble and approachable.

9

A radio show can be a great way to start getting your name out there and getting noticed.

10

In today’s day and age, there are plenty of resources to help you succeed; it’s just a matter of being relentless to find them.


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Insurance

5 Things to Consider Before Buying Insurance for Your Food Business By: Rebecca Hosley

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Insurance

Y

ou know you need business insurance to help pay for lawsuits anddamaged property. But where do you start if you’re new to the world of insurance? Check these five things off your list before you make a purchase, so you get the right policies at the best price.

1. Identify Your Risks Insurance is all about managing risk, so before you purchase an insurance policy, think about the incidents that could set your business back. Most businesses, including yours, will probably need common policies like general liability insurance to cover customer slip-and-fall accidents and property insurance to replace damaged equipment. But other business characteristics might increase your risks and insurance needs, too. For example:  Have employees? You might need workers’ compensation insurance to help pay for occupational injuries.  Serve alcohol? You might need to purchase a liquor liability policy to cover alcohol-related lawsuits.  Own a food truck or do catering? You might consider purchasing off-premises insurance to protect your mobile gear. Because of these variables, a one-size-fitsall insurance approach may leave you with too much or too little coverage. So be sure to work with an insurance broker that can match your coverage to your actual operations and risks.

2. Read Up on the Insurance Company Plenty of insurance companies will be happy to write you a policy and take your money. But don’t go with the first insurance company you 37

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find without some research. Try to find one that:  Has experience working with small businesses.  Offers products specifically for food businesses.  Has the proper licensing.  Is trustworthy. Read reviews from current and former clients to get a sense of what the company’s customer service is like. You can also check its A.M. Best rating, which denotes the company’s solvency (i.e., its ability to pay claims). Ideally, you want to choose a carrier with an “A” rating.

3. Shop Around and Compare Quotes The easiest way to get a good deal on your coverage is to compare offers. Aim to compare quotes from a few different insurance companies before you commit to a policy.


Insurance

INSURANCE

While it can be tempting to go for the cheapest annual premium, make sure you’ll be able to afford the deductible if you ever need to file a claim. Otherwise, you could be in a tight financial spot if you have a claim, but not enough cash on hand to pay the deductible. Try to choose a deductible you can afford with little notice.

5. Understand that You May Need to Update Your Policy Down the Road

When comparing quotes, price is certainly a consideration, but it’s not the only thing to pay attention to. You want to make sure your policy doesn’t skimp on coverage you need. An agent can walk you through the ins and outs of your quotes, but you’ll want to take a close look at each policy:  Limits – the amount the insurance company will pay toward a claim.  Inclusions – what incidents the insurance company will cover.  Exclusions – what events the insurance company won’t cover. Your insurance agent can help you decide which limits are high enough to cover your business in case of a lawsuit or an accident.

4. Choose the Right Deductible for Your Needs The deductible is the amount you need to pay out of pocket before your insurance benefits kick in to cover your claim. Typically, the lower your annual premium, the higher your deductible, and vice versa. 38

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Purchasing business insurance isn’t something you do once and forget about. As your business changes and grows, your insurance needs may evolve, too. Let’s say you purchase new equipment for your kitchen. You will want to update your property insurance to cover new major purchases. You may also need to update or expand your coverage if you:  Start offering catering services.  Hire more employees.  Relocate your business.  Bring in significantly more revenue. If you experience these changes, take it as a sign to call your insurance agent. They can take a look at your policy and make adjustments to keep your business covered as it grows.

Rebecca Hosley is a content writer for Insureon, an online small business insurance agency. She is based in Chicago and frequently writes about small business insurance on Insureon’s Food for Thought blog.


HASSLE-FREE BUSINESS INSURANCE

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Antonia Lofaso

Success Story

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From

Failure to Fame & Creating Opportunities


Success Story

Best

known for her role on Top Chef, Antonia Lofaso has gone from chef to celebrity, author, restaurateur, and business owner at lightning speed. Lofaso left the suburbs of Long Island and ventured into the cultural melting pot known as Los Angeles to apprentice under renowned culinary authorities. Combining their sophistication with her natural born instincts, Lofaso quickly developed her own unique style. As her popularity grew from appearances on Top Chef: Chicago, Top Chef: All-Stars, CNBC’s Restaurant Startup, and Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, so too did her culinary influence and business acumen. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, Lofaso began working at legendary chef Wolfgang Puck’s Beverly Hills restaurant Spago. While at Spago, Lofaso refined her skills under Executive Chef Lee Hefter for six years before taking the head chef job at Foxtail, an upscale Los Angeles supper club. While transforming various high-profile kitchens in Los Angeles, Lofaso would also begin working closely with a variety of celebrities. By 2011, Lofaso ventured on her own with partners Sal Aurora and Mario Guddemi to debut Black Market Liquor Bar in Studio City. Suddenly, she experienced a sense of home with her highly collaborative partners and creative license that accompanies entrepreneurship. Inspired by her Italian-American heritage, Lofaso opened Scopa Italian Roots in 2013 with critical acclaim. Her path from cook to chefand television personality to restaurateur was beginning to take shape. Continuing to build her brand and spread her culinary influence, Lofaso joined with Penguin to release The Busy Mom’s Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Quick, Delicious, Home-cooked Meals, which also discusses the challenges she overcame while attending college and

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simultaneously raising her daughter, Xea. And now, with her latest venture, Chefletics, Lofaso and her partners combine innovation – a patented technology called ChefDry – with modern styles and high-quality fabrics to redesign chef attire. Along the way, it hasn’t been easy. When Lofaso’s first restaurant went under, she admittedly was a “mess for a while.” A time in her life when she “almost stopped cooking,” but found the will to continue. From the ashes rose a more confident person who transformed the setback into a life lesson. As Lofaso said, “if you keep your mouth shut and you do things that you don’t want to do you’re going to fail and have no one else to blame but yourself.” Throughout her career, Lofaso has measured her success by her ability to inspire, creating lasting memories for patrons in her restaurants, and leaving the industry better than she found it. It’s evident she knows herself, brand, and strives to connect with her tribe while remaining transparent and authentic. Lofaso insists that the drive behind all of her accomplishments comes from the heart of the kitchen, and it is through this vein that she continues to have a firm finger on the pulse.


Success Story

Q&A The

with

1

Antonia Lofaso

What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?

I think it was just a natural evolution. I didn’t go to business school; I went to culinary school. Because you start off as a cook, then you become a chef, you open [someone else’s] restaurant, then your own, and then multiple restaurants, and [eventually] you have a restaurant group. After learning and understanding the finance and the business side you can move into owning, operating, and building different levels to the restaurant group. This industry has so many incredible outlets for you to be creative in, it’s endless. Everything that I’ve learned has come through trial and error. When I started to 42

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become sponsored, or when different companies wanted me to promote their items, I started to learn the ins and outs of what it all looked like and [being] authentic. When you start to become an influencer, you have to think: “How many people do I reach?” “Whom do I want to put in my corner?” “Do I want to represent these different ingredients or products?” I have an obligation to myself, my restaurant group and my integrity moving when I make products. There was a just point where it just switched in my head, and I thought, “Why am I making money for other people? I’m the one that has all the goods!” I wanted to build my business in different ways and thought, “What else could I do?” And that’s why I wanted to start a clothing line and catering company.


2 Success Story

2

How do you evaluate opportunities at hand to ensure that you’re maintaining integrity but also serving partners or businesses?

It always has to come from a real place and make sense. I’ll give you a perfect example; I’m not an ingredient snob, and some chefs that walk around with three Michelin stars in their pocket can be, and I totally get it. I was trained in fine dining. I spent 10 years in a two-star Michelin restaurant learning and honing my skills to then take and do what I want. Can I make foie gras terrine three ways? Absolutely. Do I choose to? No, I don’t. Early in my career, I was approached do a campaign for Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza. When I was pregnant, and growing up, all I ate was Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza. Those are things that I actually eat, so why would I lie about it? So if I didn’t partner with Stouffer’s, that would be like lying about who I actually am as a cook. In those campaigns, I talked about not being an ingredient snob. But that’s who I am as a chef. Would it make sense for Joel Robuchon to do it? No. To me, you have to have authenticity with whatever you’re doing. I’m never trying to sell or build a product that I don’t actually eat or live by.

A lot of it is just going with your gut instinct on how to make things work. 43

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Success Story

Everything that I’ve learned has come through trial and error.

3

What were some of the biggest hurdles you faced when you were starting out?

Diving into different aspects of business. How do we sell it? How does any of this stuff work? What marketing team is correct? What PR team is correct? For instance, we’re in clothing right now, and we don’t have a background there. We’re trying to work with some of the best people for our marketing since my expertise is opening a restaurant with people coming in and spreading word of mouth. I’m listening to people and trying to navigate through their feedback. We have spent a lot of money and made some mistakes along the way, but you always have to manage your expectations in business. I was not a marketing or communications major, but if you understand people and you’re trying to sell products, it all comes down to the same questions and answers. A lot of it is just going with your gut instinct on how to make things work. When I followed my intuition is when we have created success because there’s no formula for it. I have been told by marketing experts to focus on technology, but my response is that an ad targeting chefs is going after someone who likes food, cooks, and has a small business. I am that person, and when I see an ad, I don’t care 44

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about technology, I want it to be interesting. I give them a few weeks to see if they can deliver what I want, and if not, we pivot. [It’s all about] understanding your product, who you are, what you do and live by. Never assume the guy wearing the suit with the marketing degree knows more than you do.

4

With Chefletics, what steps did you take to validate this idea as a business, and give you the confidence to go all-in? The idea had to build from an authentic idea. I talked to a lot of different chefs, and they’ve all told me they just wanted to wear something comfortable and stretchy in the kitchen. I only put on my chef jacket when I have to; I’m in a zip-up hoodie 90 percent of the time. I wanted to start with the idea of doing something with athleisure wear. I thought, if I’m building a better jacket that I want to wear, let’s see if other people are going to want to wear it to. What we do in the kitchen is very athletic, there’s bending, stretching, moving, jumping, climbing and running. I wanted to figure out how we could build something that still looks like chef wear but feels like something that you can move and bend in.


Success Story

You have to have authenticity with whatever you’re doing. I’m never trying to sell or build a product that I don’t actually eat or live by.

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Success Story

5

What was the initial starting point with Chefletics?

The starting point was finding a designer, someone who could actually build it. From there the construction of the jacket actually took a long period of time. You have to have a model, and since I’m the one who’s going to wear it and be able to test it more than anyone else, we built it in my size. So I became the “A” candidate, and from that, it was building a garment from scratch. And when you construct a garment from scratch, I’ve learned it comes together in pieces; the shoulder is one piece, then the arm, the waist, and then you see where the seams are and how the jacket comes together. That phase took about three or four months to complete. As we made it, we learned about all these different cool techniques, like waterproofing treatments. Our patented product is called ChefDry. Now, if anyone wants to make a waterproof jacket for the chef world, they have to go through us. For anything that repels water, they are paying us a royalty. Because we were first to market, we could get the patent.

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6

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How far along are you with the Chefletics venture?

We’ve literally just started this year [2017]. It’s ready to purchase, you can go online on Amazon and our website, and we’re doing ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. The next steps are to work with a PR company that I have known forever. Marketing has to come from two sides. It can’t just be e-commerce and online; there have to be actual people using it and spreading word of mouth. And it doesn’t happen overnight unless you have hundreds of millions of dollars to blow, like how Kate Hudson started her company with commercials on every single network.

Failure doesn’t mean that it ends. You need to understand the pivot and how to get back up and start over.


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Success Story

7

I’m sure an influencer strategy is part of the growth plan, is that right?

We have good influencers and a lot of friends in the industry willing to give testimonials and wear it, which is great. I want to build it authentically, where people will start to find out about it and love it. More importantly, we’re hoping for this to become a uniform company.

8

What would you say are key elements of running a successful food business in today’s day and age?

Your team and your ability to keep your team motivated. The person at the top sets the tone for the team, but keeping them excited, passionate, informed, educated and inspired day to day is the key. You keep a team motivated by being appreciative and authentic with them. When I walk into my kitchens, I chat with my prep cooks and ask about them and their family.

9

What would you warn people wanting to start a food-based business these days?

Don’t have any ideas of having any other life outside of your job. Don’t plan on doing anything except making sure that your business is run properly. The hardest thing is that you’re responsible for everything. You can’t be the chef but only deal with the back of the house. Everything is 47

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yours. [For example,] the way the host and valet behave is all your responsibility. The number-one conversation that I have with anyone who is starting is that everything must go in writing, and there has to be a contract in place before anything starts.

You have to find like minds to be in business. If you don’t like hanging out with your business partners, that’s a problem.


Success Story

Success is leaving the industry better than I found it and inspiring people.

10

What’s a misconception people have about being a “celebrity chef?”

So many people come into this profession just wanting the end result. I think our profession is no different than any other, and people don’t understand the work that is involved. To be honest, I haven’t helped it because people see me on television and they think “This is what I want.” They only see me sitting at a judge’s table deliberating on what the chefs can and can’t do. They haven’t seen it from start to finish. They see me make a beautiful dish on television, but that’s not what makes an incredible chef. That’s what makes an incredible cook. An incredible cook can create a seven-course meal for 10 people. But an incredible chef is someone who knows the finance behind it, who can have a team work for them in multiple restaurants to create menus that are accessible, priced correctly, and in an area with traffic. There are so many things that go into it. Just being a really good cook won’t make you a millionaire or put you on television. These expectations are just not real. 48

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11

What would you caution people entering the industry with potentially false expectations? You can’t enter this world for the wrong thing. Restaurant people are a different breed, and we can sniff out fakes. You’re exposed by the way you cook, the way you talk about food or the way you run your restaurant. For the record, you don’t have to be wellknown, and it doesn’t have to be global. You could be someone who runs the most successful café in the middle of a [small town] and be a restaurant person. Or you could run a fine dining restaurant in San Francisco. You’re in our world because there’s nothing else you could do in your life. However, chefs are mentors, and we have an obligation to the rest of the community to leave it better than we found it.


Success Story

The person at the top sets the tone for the team, but keeping them excited, passionate,informed, educated and inspired day to day is the key. 49

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Success Story

Don’t try to build a brand or company based on what you think people want or what someone else thinks you should be doing.

12

What’s your advice for people starting their own personal brands?

Authenticity. Don’t try to build a brand or company based on what you think people want or what someone else thinks you should be doing. If you don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what your brand is and what you represent, no one else is going to be able to understand it. That’s when things fall through the cracks. 50

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13

What are some of your thoughts on what makes a strong business partnership?

With partnerships, everyone needs to say in their own lane. [For instance], my partnership consists of money and operations, and then the front of the house. If someone comes to the bar to criticize something, I might say “stay in your lane.” [However] the people that I do business with are restaurant people who know good food, and when they comment on something, I know that they see it from a different set of eyes that I trust. You have to find like minds to be in business. If you don’t like hanging out with your business partners, that’s a problem.


Success Story

14

How do you define success?

I define success by being happy with what I’ve produced, and being proud of my restaurants. I had people who were married and wanted to take a picture to put on their invitation to their wedding in my restaurant because he proposed there, and to me, that’s true success. I’ve created an experience for people, and all of my restaurants do that. Success is leaving the industry better than I found it and inspiring people. One woman told me I inspired her to dropout of college where she was miserable as a communications major, and she enrolled in cooking school and was so happy.

15

I was 23 when I had my daughter, and when I graduated culinary school, I had a one-yearold attached to my hip. I decided to start at the beginning and not make much money, and to learn everything that I could from the best chefs in the world and then create restaurants that mean something to me. By following that true path of authenticity, creativity, and love for what I do, everything has worked out. And that’s what I tell people. You stay positive, and you stay forward-thinking, you keep moving forward.

15

What was a major mistake in business that you made and the lesson you walked away with?

My first restaurant tanked. I was in partnership with the wrong people who had a different idea of what the restaurant was supposed to be. They wanted a nightclub upstairs, and I thought

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I define success by being happy with what I’ve produced, and being proud of my restaurants. since it was my first place we should try it. I had known things were wrong, but I kept my mouth shut, thinking they knew better because they had the money. And it failed miserably. I was a mess for a while, and I almost stopped cooking, but they I told myself that I was going to get through this. I learned the best lesson of my life, that was if you keep your mouth shut and you do things that you don’t want to do you’re going to fail and have no one else to blame but yourself.

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What would you say are the most important characteristics for someone to be a food entrepreneur in the industry today? A true love of food and the ambition to work really hard at it. And to know that failure is okay. Failure doesn’t mean that it ends. You need to understand the pivot and how to get back up and start over. Photo Credits: Dylan + Jeni, Jakob N. Layman


Top Ten Takeaways from Antonia Lofaso 1

Much of what you will learn in entrepreneurship will come from trial and error.

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2

No matter what you do, having complete authenticity is crucial to your success.

When forming business partnerships, try to find people whose company you enjoy.

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3

As the leader of a company, you set the tone. Be sure you know what tone your setting.

Never build a brand or business based on what others think you should be doing. Always stay true to yourself.

8

4

Failure doesn’t have to mean something ends. Instead, you can learn to pivot and keep moving forward.

A tried and true path to entrepreneurship is identifying a problem experienced by a critical mass and creating a solution.

9

5

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind in relation to your brand or business, because if you don’t, and something goes wrong, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

You will experience roadblocks and setbacks in your journey, but it’s what you do about them that will set you apart from the competition.

10

No matter your expertise, find a way to leave your profession better than you found it.

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Marketing Strategy

A Locally-Sourced

Marketing Strategy By: Megan Wenzl

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Marketing Strategy

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Marketing is about building relationships. t’s about building relationships with the owner of that local coffee shop, or the teacher at the elementary school. They are, of course, consumers.

When you think of ways to build relationships with potential consumers, you must remember that the purpose of a business is to add value to people’s lives: Value that can’t be found anywhere else.

searching...

That means that everything you do as a business owner, from the food you create to the experience you provide should add value for the consumer. Marketing included. A good local marketing strategy is one of the defining characteristics of a successful food business. For the chef-entrepreneur, this involves using your creative talent outside of the kitchen to create ways to develop real, emotional connections with consumers.

food business like yours, your name will only appear high on the page if you are optimizing for local search.

Media Placements

Search Engine Optimization

Media placements are an excellent way to spread the word about your food business.

Let’s start with search. Consumers will find you online when they are searching for a business near them.

Generating backlinks from credible sources, like local media will help your business rank higher in local search results.

Thirty-five percent of searches are local, and consumers typically visit a business within 48 hours of search, according to research by ReviewTrackers.

I asked our head of communications, Mandy Yoh, for her expert advice about how to get media placements.

That’s why you need to focus on making sure your business is found in local search. One way to optimize for local search is to focus on online review management. The quantity and velocity of reviews is a Google ranking factor. You can request reviews from your most loyal customers directly by sending them an email or text message with a message directing them to your own website or an online review site. When a consumer searches for a 55

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“For a local business, it’s important to first know how to tell the story about what makes you different from your competitors,” she says. So with that advice, let’s say you own a restaurant that is open all day with a unique take on diner food. You also have large couches and print books available for your customers to read while they eat. You’re different than other diners because you create a “walk-in-and-staylong” kind of feel. In addition, you use locally sourced ingredients.


Marketing Strategy When you know how you’re going to tell your story, reach out to local media. A good place is to start is to find business or entertainment/arts reporters. Another great way to tell a story about your business? Become involved with the local community. For example, if you partner with a local nonprofit, like a homeless shelter, maybe you provide a meal for the shelter once a month. Once you know how you’re making an impact, you can pitch to local media about your commitment to helping feed the homeless. This is just one idea, but partnering with a local nonprofit will elicit an emotional response from consumers.

Community Building Other ways to build community include event sponsorship for both city and private events or creating your own event. You could host an event with a local organization, like one that helps entrepreneurs learn how to start a business. Maybe someone from the organization can speak about starting a business while you provide appetizers. The attendees will be able to see your eatery, talk with you, and get to know your business. This will help convert consumers into loyal guests.

Brand Advocates Once you grow a base of loyal customers, it’s now time to convert them into customers who talk favorably about your business. These cus56

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tomers are called brand advocates. One way to find these loyal customers is to conduct an NPS survey. There’s just one question on the survey: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this business.” Based on the results, you can then categorize your customers into promoters, passives, or detractors. Promoters score nine to 10 and are loyal brand enthusiasts. Passives score seven to eight and are satisfied customers, but might be easily convinced to take their business elsewhere. Detractors score zero to six and are unhappy customers. Brand advocates will talk favorably about you online, which is one place where prospective consumers will find you. It’s important that you respond to their reviews, and listen to what they have to say. In addition to responding to brand advocates, positive reviewers, your business will benefit by responding to and managing all reviews.

Megan Wenzl is the associate editor for ReviewTrackers, an award-winning customer feedback software that helps businesses transform the customer experience. Megan is a dedicated storyteller who loves helping businesses succeed. Megan has a master of arts degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago.


Business Bites Chef Deb is an award-winning, best-selling author, sought after speaker & Senior Certified Personal Chef. For a decade, she has helped chefs across the country level-up their culinary business by teaching the same proven strategies used to grow her 6-figure personal chef company. In her column, Chef Deb will show various ways to transition from behind the stove to a true CEO and attract ideal clients to begin making the money you deserve.

When Should You Hire

a Business Coach?

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s independent business owners, it’s easy to think we got it all figured out and under control. The truth? That’s not always the case.

When I started my first personal chef business nearly 15 years ago, I had no clue what I was doing. I had gone to culinary school and felt confident in my culinary abilities, but I had no idea how to create systems and processes to help my business run more efficiently or any legal implications that came with creating an LLC. After going through the school of hard knocks, I decided to lay down my pride and hire a business coach. My business wasn’t failing, 58

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but I wanted to grow it even more, and I didn’t know how to do that. Hiring a coach was the most money I had ever invested in my business up to that point, and it was the scariest thing I have ever done. I didn’t know how I would pay for it, but I knew it would be worth it. Today, I can tell you that it was absolutely worth every penny. I have made that money back and then some because of the coaches I have hired. I would not be where I am today without them and my supportive family. Hiring a business coach is a huge financial and emotional investment, so it needs to be something you are absolutely sure about, so when do you know it’s time to hire one?


Business Bites

You’re Stuck Behind the Stove If you are going to grow your business, it can’t be done if you are behind your stove all day cooking. If you are too busy working “in” your business rather than “on” it then it’s time for a coach to help you make that transition from behind your stove to being a true CEO so you can spend your time doing things that really move the needle.

You’re Hard Work Isn’t Paying Off If you’re like me, you think about your business 24/7 and put your heart and soul into everything you do. However, sometimes you might feel like you’re spinning in circles. Week after week you are putting in the work, you’re learning new ways to market your business or manage your employees, but you don’t see the results you would like. Hiring a culinary business coach is a great way to see where you need to focus your efforts and how to break your goals down into manageable steps that you can actually accomplish and start seeing the results you’re looking for.

You Want to Save Time and Money This might seem counterintuitive since hiring a business coach can be quite the investment, however, in the long run, you will actually save money because a coach saves you from spending your time and resources on things that won’t really help your business and avoid common pitfalls that could be costly.

You Can’t See the Big Picture Hiring a business coach will help you see the bigger picture and have a greater understanding of what the next steps need to be. A coach 59

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guides you on what you need to focus on right now and what can be put on the back burner for the time being. When you have a leader who can see the big picture and truly understands your business and the direction you want to go, then they can help guide you along that path in a much more efficient way.

You’re Feeling Overwhelmed or Alone Let’s be honest – who doesn’t feel overwhelmed as a business owner? We wear a lot of hats and run ourselves ragged sometimes. A coach can take some of that burden off your shoulders and help you feel like you’re not alone. They can be there for you when you need to vent, when you have a question, or just don’t know how to get over a certain hurdle.

You Lost Sight of Your Purpose I have met many chefs who started out being passionate about their culinary business, but without realizing it, become disenchanted with their brand and the services or products they offer. A coach can help you rediscover what makes you truly fulfilled.


Business Bites

If you feel like your business has reached a plateau and you do not see growth, it’s time to hire a business coach who can take things to the next level for you. For example, one chef that I coach tried to be everything to everyone. She offered personal chef services, catering, cooking classes, intimate dinners, etc. When I sat down with her to talk about her services, I could tell that she only offered all of these things because she felt obligated to, not because she wanted to.

side and an insightful business coach who has grown businesses themselves and understands what it takes.

After talking awhile, she discovered that doing cooking classes is what she enjoyed the most and we decided that she could build a whole new brand around that. Guess what? It’s working tremendously for her, and she is booking classes left and right with big companies and she is happier focusing on doing one thing she loves.

It can be difficult to admit you need help with your “baby” that you’ve worked so hard to build.

You Want Your Company to Grow I briefly mentioned this before, but if you feel like your business has reached a plateau and you do not see growth, it’s time to hire a business coach who can take things to the next level for you. Sometimes all it takes is a little kick in the 60

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I have owned several culinary businesses ranging from a restaurant, catering company to a personal chef company that I own now. Let’s just say I’ve learned a thing or two!

Hiring a business coach doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it means you are a smart entrepreneur, and you realize that mentors can offer insights and ideas that you’ve never thought of before and an incredible support system. If you think you’re ready to hire a coach, feel free to reach out to me. I have been mentoring other chefs for about 10 years now, and I would love to be your mentor! You can visit my website at www.chefdeb.com or email me at deb@chefdeb.com.


Success Story

R ay

Lampe

Dr. BBQ Talks Branding,

Screen-Time & Legacy 62

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Success Story

From

slinging pulled pork sandwiches out of a trailer to being inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2014, it’s safe to say that Ray Lampe, better known as Dr. BBQ, is a self-made culinary star. After 25 years in the trucking business in Chicago, Lampe realized it was time to leave the market and pursue his passion for barbecue. The pitmaster took his savings and traveled to Florida to begin his entrepreneurial adventure, and the rest is history.

Lampe knew early on that he wasn’t marketing his talent as much as he was marketing himself. His look was authentic, Chicagoan trucker that was dressed in a chef’s jacket with flames. The chef would later pair up with Big Green Egg, a company he grew to be Spokeschef for after years of dabbling as a show cook for various grill exhibitors. Dr. BBQ and Guy Fieri’s paths crossed on the competitive circuit that sparked a mentorship, which grew to be a lasting friendship. His signature look, big personality, and barbecue skills drew attention at national competitions, which brought partnerships and cameos on screen. The Barbecue Hall of Famer has appeared on Travel Channel’s American Grilled, and the Food Network’s Chopped and Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri. Lampe also hosted a cooking segment on Fox Sports Network’s “Fishing the Flats,” as well as a monthly “Ask Dr. BBQ” Q&A segment on the BBQ Central Radio Show. The Chopped Champion also dabbles in mentorship for restaurant grill masters that need a push in the right direction, like Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality BBQ. 63

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The doctor’s relationship with cooking is dated back to his days in high school taking Home Economics – signing up mainly for the girls and quickly realizing that he had an affinity for being in the kitchen. Fast forward to the last-minute submission into a barbecue contest with his buddies years later, although he went home empty-handed, Lampe was drawn to the atmosphere. He admitted that he would sign up for a chicken noodle soup competition if it meant an afternoon filled with food, booze, and friends. Lampe is now known as one of the most famous pitmasters, with a selection of burgers and sausages that are featured on HSN. With 9 published cookbooks and over 300 awards under his belt, the doctor has barbecue down to a science, and he is getting ready to open up his first restaurant in Spring 2018, in partnership with the Datz Restaurant Group. A firm believer seizing opportunities that pair well with his brand, the location in St. Petersburg, Florida, will combine his signature technique and taste with a Datz influence.


Success Story

& QA The

with

1

Ray Lampe

What inspired you to take the leap into entrepreneurship?

It’s not quite that way. The family business was a local trucking company in Chicago. My grandfather started it in 1934, and I took it over when my father died in 1975 at the age of 18. By 2000, after 25 years, that business pretty much didn’t exist anymore. It still exists to some degree in big cities but most people use UPS, you don’t call Ray. Luckily, I was smart enough to realize it before it was too late. I was in a good place, I had stashed away money, I had a nice run but the future was not going be that, I was going to bleed out, and I knew it. Then what? I had to be gutsy, use my money now and do something different. At 43 years old, I was forced to jump ship – and the only other thing I knew how to do was cook barbecue. My friends thought I was crazy. I closed the trucking business and moved [to Florida]. I began my barbecue career two weeks after.

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2

What do you feel are key factors for those striving to establish themselves in the industry today? I’m more proud of my entrepreneurial skills than my cooking skills. No question. The answer to many of your questions are “have good business sense, make good business decisions.” It is a business; they somehow think it’s magic because it is food. They think because my BBQ sauce is so good – maybe it is maybe it isn’t – but because of that people are going to open doors for you. My biggest advantage that has allowed me to be successful is that I’ve been self-employed since I was 18 in the trucking business. I know how to do it. It is as simple as sending out invoices. If you do not send out invoices, you don’t get paid. It’s part of being in business and knowing how to cut a deal upfront. I see so many guys now that are looking for


3 Success Story

opportunities to work with brands and they do it for nothing because they give them a free hat or a fancy cup with their name on it. Somehow, it makes you look like you got a big deal because you’re sponsored up. But if you don’t get a check with that, how are you going to pay your mortgage? If you do it free for everybody, they don’t have to pay you because you’ve set that precedent.

3

What has the experience been like bringing your first restaurant, Dr. BBQ, to life?

We went through a lot of different ideas, should we put my name on it, should we not? Then we agreed on “Dr. BBQ’s” to kind of separate it from me, but it’s not – so we settled on just “Dr. BBQ.” We have put so many dates out there and not met them, so we are wary of giving another date. Not that anything is wrong, that is just the nature of it. It takes time waiting for permits – and it gets frustrating. It is a huge place; it was an industrial building, so everything is going to brand new with a modern design, wood, leather, and steel. It is just a matter of opening the doors at this point.

4

Any major lessons learned while opening your first place?

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What factors contributed to choosing the space & location?

We are a victim of our own success. We are really good marketers. Obviously, the Datz people are, and I’m good at it, so once we started marketing this thing we create a lot of buzz, but we didn’t take into account all the delays that were going to happen. We knew better, we are smart people but we got excited and it got a lot of attention right away and we just did not predict difficulties that we were going to face along the way.

When Roger and Suzanne pitched the restaurant idea to me, they wanted to do it in St. Pete where I live, so it was the perfect storm. It is really such a cool thing for me, as a legacy project. I am 60 years old, you open a restaurant, and you hope it stays open beyond my lifespan you know, so it is a cool thing like that. The location is part of what makes it so great. A restaurant, period, with my name on it, was not exactly a bucket list thing. A cool restaurant built really nicely near my house with some really good people to run it was on, yeah, that was on my bucket list. It’s a hot neighborhood in St. Petersburg – The Edge District. The location allows me to hang out with my friends, greet the people while technically being at work and overseeing the food.

Along the way, I realized that the product I was really selling was me. 65

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Success Story

6

What are some of the pre-launch strategies you and the team have implemented to create buzz for the upcoming place? Other than marketing through publications and social networks, we [Ray and Datz Restaurant Group] paired up with UberEats to create a Dr. BBQ’s Pop Up late September. We had a fourhour window that people could order my signature creations through the UberEats app. We got a lot of buzz for that promotion, but we did it a little too early on.

7

How did you land the partnership with Datz Restaurant Group for your upcoming location? Other than Southern Hospitality, I have never worked for a restaurant. Restaurants have never been my thing; I’ve always been in and out of them a lot because of all of the different things I do. So the temptation there was to open a restaurant, especially now because I think I can bring a lot of attention to it and develop recipes. Running a restaurant day-to-day is not my thing. Roger and Suzanne with Datz, I’ve known them for years – just genuinely nice people. Suzanne used to have a radio show about cooking, and she would always invite me to be on. She would buy a bunch of books and have me come to Datz and do a book signing. We have been friends ever since. Now they have a kid in college in Texas, and they are over there eating barbecue all the time. They decided they wanted to open up a barbecue restaurant but did not really know how to do that, but they knew how to run a restaurant, so they called me. 66

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On television, we talk about being yourself, but being a giant version of yourself. As soon as you try to create a character, it doesn’t work.


Success Story

Be wary of non-compete contracts. Don’t take the chance of signing on with one network indefinitely.

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Success Story

If you are afraid to be broke, you cannot be an entrepreneur.

8

What do you feel makes up a good business partnership – say between a chef-partner and restaurant group? If we just got to know each other, it might’ve been tricky. The year of waiting to plan and bring this idea to life allowed us to get to know each other and the give and take are all going to have to happen. So now if you offend someone they are not going to take it personally [laughs].

9

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your success thus far?

One day, in 2008, I got a call from a guy in New York, and he says he had a guy that owned a barbecue restaurant and was having a hard time getting it on track, and he wanted me to come up there and help him. I Googled the restaurant, and it was Justin Timberlake’s restaurant Southern Hospitality.

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At first, I said, “Listen, man, I’m in Florida, that’s not what I do. Thanks, but I don’t think I want to do this.” He kept bugging me saying, “Dude, think about what you’re missing here.” He said, “I could help you at the same time.” Finally, I go up there and meet with him, and the second day I was there we did a photoshoot for People magazine. Shortly after I got an agent based out of New York, that was representing Food Network stars, and that is how I got my foot in the door with more appearances on the network.

10

How did your relationship with the Food Network come about?

The early days, Food Network would come to the barbecue competitions, and they would take some guy they met along the way, and they would follow him. If you happened to be there or be his friend, you got a little coverage, but they did not take us seriously, and they were not really incorporating us into anything. Food Network noticed me because of all of the side hustles I was doing and realized that I was a genuine character. Originally I did Tailgate Warriors with Guy, we did one episode and then the next year I did a bunch of them. I returned as a judge, and it was a big deal because I was on a show with Guy Fieri with a big budget on a big network. After that, I was a guest star on Diners, Driveins, and Dives as the barbecue expert.  Fast forward to my new agent after the Southern Hospitality opportunity; my agent got me on the show Best Thing I Ever Ate that Food Network still airs all the time. When Food Network decided to launch Chopped Grill Masters, I was one of the first guys they called because I was becoming that “go-to” barbecue guy for them – and that’s what you want. I won my first episode and then went on to lose in the finals. Later, they would call me to be a guest judge on cooking competitions, which was huge – now I was the expert judge. They have been really good to me.


Success Story

12

Howard Stern said, “One of the things that worked for me is if I came to a point where I would have to ask should I say this or not? It’s how I feel, but I don’t know if I should say it. I always say it. I’ll deal with the consequences because it’s truly who I am.” It’s all about being genuinely flawed.

12

For aspiring food entrepreneurs striving to achieve success like yourself, what’s your final advice for them?

It’s all about being genuinely flawed.

11

For those looking to get on the big screen, any advice for them?

Be wary of non-compete contracts. Don’t take the chance of signing on with one network indefinitely. Other than that, it’s the same advice for how to be an entrepreneur, be yourself. On television, we talk about being yourself, but being a giant version of yourself. As soon as you try to create a character, it doesn’t work. This is truly me; I’m lucky that even my look – the goofy hair and the beard – is the Chicago trucker look it’s just transitioned into being a barbecue guy. Be yourself, be genuine, and have good business sense. Maybe who you are isn’t someone who is meant to be on television, and you have to accept that. Don’t be something you’re not because the camera sees through the BS. Show up sober, shaved, make good decisions, and fill out all of the applications. 69

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You have to be in the atmosphere, find work within your field. The point of all this is I didn’t have this “eye on the prize” type thing, I didn’t know, and I still don’t. Along the way, I realized that the product I was really selling was me, so that allows me to focus a little more. But there’s no 401k, that’s the entrepreneurial way. If you are afraid to be broke, you cannot be an entrepreneur. You have a basic plan, but you cannot be stuck on that plan. I think that is a mistake many people make. Rolling with the punches is so huge, you have to be able to do that – that’s the skill. You have to be creative and have a good work ethic. Photo Credits: Djamel Photography

Jenna Rimensnyder is a staff writer and content specialist for Entrepreneurial Chef, having studied Journalism, Media, Food Writing & Photography from the University of South Florida. She combines her love of writing and passion for food to capture stories of inspirational food entrepreneurs and spread across the web. Follow along at JennaRimensnyder.Com.


Top Ten Takeaways from Ray Lampe 1

Although your skill is important, success will come down to how well you can sell yourself.

2

To be a television personality, you have to be an amplified version of yourself – entertaining, yet genuine.

3

Some of the best opportunities come from the doors you are hesitant to open.

4

Find a way to make a profit from every opportunity, whether it be monetary or exposure.

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5

Be wary of signing non-compete contracts at the beginning of your career.

6

Utilize cooking competitions to gain exposure and as a networking opportunity.

7

Make yourself accessible, even at the height of your career.

8

Do not overpromise your commitment to a project.

9

Stay true to your brand even after you gain success.

10

Be wary of partnerships that may tarnish your reputation.


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Cocktail Programs

Building the Perfect Cocktail Program By: Ali Redmond

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Cocktail Programs

R

egardless of your type of establishment, a cocktail menu is an opportune area to drive profit to the bottom line and further showcase your menu. It’s disheartening to open a menu that serves uninspired cocktails, especially if you have a story to tell with your menu. Here are some things to keep in mind when building a cocktail list. Keep these points in mind when crafting your cocktail list, and you will find that the list not only brings you additional revenue but create excitement with your customers about your overall menu.

What is the motive of the cocktail program? The cocktail list will play different roles depending on your type of establishment and your goals for the cocktail program. A speakeasy bar will have a more detailed, pronounced program with more obscure and creative ingredients than a sports tavern, which may primarily highlight easy-going classics. Just as much as a farm to table restaurant will feature a smaller cocktail list than a martini lounge. Looking at these factors will help determine the size, direction, and extensiveness of the cocktail menu.

Does the cocktail list tell your story? Think of your cocktail menu as an extension of the story you are selling with the food menu. Does your restaurant serve authentic, roots Mexican cuisine? Cross-utilize the ingredients in your kitchen to infuse spirits or create syrups to bring your culinary talents behind the bar. Also, highlight regional spirits when appropriate, such as tequilas and mezcals, in this case, to bring authenticity to your establishment. This will provide fluidity to the menu and strengthen your brand’s voice.

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Find the Balance Your customers all have varying palates and preferences. Therefore, your menu should be just as well versed. The cocktail list should be a balance of boozy aromatics and refreshing and shaken cocktails, with an array of base spirits for your consumer to choose from. The flavor profiles of each cocktail should contrast the rest of your list. Write down three key flavor profiles of each drink, and if you find yourself using the same descriptors for multiple cocktails (such as herbal, fruit, spiced), you may want to revise those cocktails or reserve one for a seasonal menu change. Also, keep in mind that balance goes beyond flavors. Using different glassware will be more efficient, as you won’t be continuously running out of one style. Garnishes are also a chance to showcase your creativity, and a way to distinguish similar appearing cocktails for your service staff.


Cocktail Programs

Pricing for Profit The craft industry has made it easier than ever to build your cocktails with high-quality ingredients at a low cost. While premium brands, such as Grey Goose, demonstrate quality to your customers, it also comes at a price. Seek out craft brands that are focusing on quality and keeping the bottle price low. If you choose to feature premium brands, be sure your pricing reflects that.

Quality is Key It’s an exciting time for bartenders, as the craft spirit industry is ever expanding, providing limitless ingredient options for building cocktails. Consumers nowadays care more about quality, so be sure that the spirit you are pouring will taste good in the glass. Avoid cordials and mixers that are full of additives and artificial sugars.

Trends A good rule of thumb is to play with trends, but don’t commit to them. Trends will change from season to season. Therefore your program should be built to be flexible, and outlast the comings and goings. Rose has been all the rage in the last year or so, so featuring summer seasonal sangria with the blush-hued wine may be your top seller now, but in two years those bottles may go corked from lack of sales. Trendy items get consumers excited, so have fun with them, but know when to say goodbye when the trend fades. Keep the backbone of your program timeless.

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Utilize Your Kitchen Great cocktails with depths of flavors can be incredibly simple, but some require complex prep work. To avoid overloading your bar team with prep work, see what areas you can cross-utilize prep from your kitchen. If your restaurant features an incredible rhubarb-strawberry jam with your signature dessert, why not shake it up with gin & lemon juice? If your restaurant boasts its chef herb garden, incorporate those herbs into your cocktails. This approach allows you to get a bit more creative, and add a whole lot of flavor.

Pay Attention Review your sales reports on a regular basis to determine what’s selling and what’s not worth keeping on the menu anymore. Your top sellers should become your mainstays, and stay with you through seasonal menu changes. Reviewing your least popular items will help you better determine what your customers are not interested in, and determine whether it’s the spirit, ingredients, cocktail style or price that is causing the disinterest. This will be useful when determining any future menu changes.

Ali Redmond is a Food and Beverage professional in the luxury hotel segment and a graduate of University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. She is an all-around food and booze enthusiast, can whip up a mean breakfast bowl, and build you a proper negroni.


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Pitch Your Dish Challenge

2017 Pitch Your

Dish Contest Winners! With hundreds of entries for the Pitch Your Dish Recipe Challenge, it boiled down to one grand prize winner and two runners up. The competition was no doubt fierce, but as with any competition, the winners carved their place on the podium.

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Pitch Your Dish Challenge

Grand Prize Winner:

Jenny Dorsey

Jenny’s Entry: Lemon Verbena Octopus Terrine Description About Jenny “I’m a professional chef with a special focus in creating culinary content & experiences using augmented & virtual reality. I’m obsessed with experiential gastronomy and total immersion using food & drink – naturally, AR/VR became an extension of this idea. My journey in food started when I left my Columbia MBA to become a chef; after spending time in fine dining I started an experimental dinner series named Wednesdays and a culinary consulting business before shifting my attention to the AR/ VR world. To date, my work has been featured in publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Business Insider, Thrillist, The Huffington Post, 7x7, Village Voice as well as on Food Network and Oxygen TV.” 77

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A trio of purple: tender octopus terrine scented with fresh lemon verbena, contrasted with sweet seasonal blackberries; smoked purple potato puree, accented with bitterly floral chrysanthemum and crunchy mustard caviar.

Recipe Inspiration “The inspiration behind this recipe came from the idea of pairing items of similar colors together, despite their flavors being unconventional or strange. Octopus was my chosen protein for the dish, so from there I drew in blackberries and purple potatoes before adding supporting components (pickled mustard caviar, chrysanthemum, red Russian kale). I’ve always loved lemon verbena and it intuitively made sense to me as the right flavor to cut through the intensity and salinity of the octopus while accentuating the sweetness of the blackberry. After a few trials and errors, I came to the final iteration of this dish – served cold, usually with a cocktail of gin and dill.”


Pitch Your Dish Challenge

Runner Up:

Allen “Sam” Abrams

Sam’s Entry: Pumpkin Pie S’mores Description About Sam “My name is Allen, but my friends call me Sam, and I am a food photographer and restaurant consultant based in Las Vegas, NV. I grew up around restaurants and fell in love with the industry. Before switching to full- time photography and consulting, I held various positions in F&B ranging from Executive Chef to Foodservice Director, and Operations Manager.” 78

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Richly spiced pumpkin pie filling combined with decadent chocolate ganache, topped with toasted marshmallows that puts a fun and new twist on a holiday classic.

Recipe Inspiration “My 5-year-old daughter had asked if we could make s’mores but it was cold and wet outside. Not wanting to disappoint, I tried to think of some other fall favorites I could tempt her with. While I was looking through the pantry I spotted some pumpkin puree and that is when inspiration struck.”


Pitch Your Dish Challenge

Runner Up:

Lisa Pucci Delgado

About Lisa “Like any artistic profession, cooking requires inspiration, once I have found my inspiration, it includes classic and modern techniques such as juicing, pickling, sous vide, and molecular gastronomy to bring out the flavors of my dish. Growing up in the restaurant industry with my parents who are both CIA Culinary graduates, we owned and operated several restaurant and catering businesses which in turn brought me to where I am today creating my own flare of everything that I have gathered throughout the years. As a chef there is nothing better than to show your love of food and flavors to the palates of others. I am on a continued journey of knowledge as a chef to learn new techniques to be able to create new culinary experiences for my clients and myself.” 79

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Lisa’s Entry: Squid Ink Pasta with A2 Cream Reductions Description Experience the intensity and richness of a full A2 cream reduction – no fillers, just pure butterfat goodness – combined with the saltiness of pancetta and tang from sun dried tomatoes. Your body won’t know what to do with itself.

Recipe Inspiration “Food is not only art, but intense flavor. Creating a pasta dish can sometimes be difficult for there is only so many things that you can do that aren’t typical. This puts your creativity at its biggest challenge. Using the squid ink pasta not only creates the color for your plate but the canvas for your sauce. Using the A2 brand of dairy is the key to flavor.”


CORE supports children of food + beverage employees navigating life-altering circumstances/conditions. Learn how you can help at COREgives.org

COREgives.org


Commercial Leasing

The Importance of Time, Timelines, and Timing with Your Commercial Lease By: Jeff Grandfield and Dale Willerton – The Lease Coach

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Commercial Leasing

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eaders of our new book, Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES, will learn (in part) that the leasing process can take differing amounts of time, depending on whether you’re opening your first or fifth restaurant location. You can discover a lot during your first few lease deals that you can carry forward – potentially saving you both time and money with further leasing projects. The key is to give yourself ample time so you can recover from setbacks and delays without it costing you more capital or rent. At The Lease Coach, we have heard from many restaurateurs who have explained how they felt pressured by real estate agents who keep pushing them to make a deal or sign a letter of intent. Many of those same restaurateurs have regretted caving into that pressure and making hasty decisions. Often you will get a call from the agent saying that someone else is looking at the space you looked at last week, so you had better hurry and sign an offer to lease. Don’t let that sway you. Pace yourself. Go your own speed and get it done right. Time is also the new money for many successful food entrepreneurs who can better spend their time doing what they do best or what only they can do for themselves and their businesses. Many commercial tenants hire professionals to save them time so why not use a professional lease consultant to handle your commercial leasing matters too? The entire lease process can take 20 to 40 hours stretched over many months – this is time that you may better delegate to someone who does this for a living. Pay attention to timelines as well as these can be critically important. Most often, any condition stated in the offer to lease may be for a finite period of time (e.g., ten days). If you know up front that you need more time to get

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your financing in order or have your contractor look over the commercial space, then ask for more days in advance. It is better to have a 20-day condition period rather than having to keep extending five-day condition periods. Timing plays a key role in a new lease or renewal. Ideally, a food entrepreneur tenant will want to start the lease negotiation process 6 – 9 months prior to the date they want to open. For a lease renewal, they should start 12 – 15 months in advance of their lease expiration date. More precisely, look at your renewaloption clause. If this says your cutoff date for exercising your lease-renewal is six months before your lease expires, you would need to start the renewal process six months before that – or a total of 12 months in advance.


Commercial Leasing

Note that your strength or leverage may lessen the closer you get to the cutoff deadline.

Note that your strength or leverage may lessen the closer you get to the cutoff deadline, so the farther in advance you can find out what the landlord wants to do with your tenancy and rental rate, the more time you have to react. If you’re going to get bad news, you will want that information sooner rather than later. Do keep in mind that most landlords want (and plan) to have existing tenants renew, so you’re usually on the same page plan-wise anyway. This also applies in cases where you don’t have a renewal option and want to remain in your same location. The closer you get to the end of your term the less relocation time you have, and it becomes clearer to the landlord that you can’t (or don’t) intend to consider relocating. Doing this all in advance also impacts your own peace-of-mind – when you can put the lease renewal to bed earlier, it reduces your own stress dramatically.

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Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield — The Lease Coach are Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Dale and Jeff are professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES (Wiley, 2013). Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call 1-800-7389202, e-mail DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com or visit www.TheLeaseCoach. com. For a copy of our free CD, Leasing Dos & Don’ts for Restaurant Tenants, please e-mail your request to JeffGrandfield@TheLeaseCoach. com.


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Magazine

All Rights Reserved Š 2017 Entrepreneurial Chef Published by Rennew Media, LLC

Entrepreneurial Chef #18 - December 2017  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Antonia Lofaso: From Failure to Fame & Creating Opportunities + Elliott Farmer: Anything is...

Entrepreneurial Chef #18 - December 2017  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Antonia Lofaso: From Failure to Fame & Creating Opportunities + Elliott Farmer: Anything is...