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Entrepreneurial f The Premier Magazine For Food Entrepreneurs


Payment Processing Hidden Fees You Need to Know

— Digital Marketing

August 2018 Issue 26

Pitching Investors 9 Tips From the Pros


The Next Generation How to Lead Gen Y & Z

How to Measure Your ROI

The Real Cost

Aarón Sánchez

of Fame & Notoriety

Entrepreneurial f Che


August 2018 Volume 3 / Issue #26

Publisher Rennew Media, LLC Editor Shawn Wenner Contributing Editors Sinead Mulhern


Contributors RJ Horsley, Soulaima Gourani, Devin Baptiste, Theo Lee, Chef Chris Hill

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. Sources are considered reliable and information is verified as much as possible, however, inaccuracies may occur and readers should use the information at their own risk. Links embedded within the publication may be affiliate links, which means Entrepreneurial Chef will earn a commission at no additional cost to our readers. 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.

Special Thanks Aarón Sánchez, Terry Braggs, Kirsten Helle

All Rights Reserved © 2018 Entrepreneurial Chef Published by Rennew Media, LLC

Staff Writers Jenna Rimensnyder, Jay Michael, Marie Reynolds, Chloe Friedman Graphic Designer Rusdi Saleh Cover Aarón Sánchez Cover Photograph Courtesy of FOX


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Contents Features


22 Terry Braggs

Aarรณn Sรกnchez

His Abrupt Entrepreneurial Start & Advice for Getting on Solid Ground

50 Kirsten Helle

How She Launched & Grew Her Line of Sauces & Bases 4

entrepreneurial chef

The Real Cost of Fame & Notoriety

72 Don Watson

How a Sheep Producer Reinvented His Business Model

82 Mark McDonald

How He Incorporates Culinary Tours as the Ultimate Guest Experience

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Contents Advice

10 How to Lead Generations Y and Z

46 Getting Your Staff to Do Their Best Work Day-In & Day-Out

66 The Inception Chef: Food Trends Begin with Innovators 6

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14 Pitching Your Idea to Investors

58 Tools of the Trade with David Burke

78 Five Founders Share How They Got Funding

30 Before Launching Our Sauce, I Wish We Knew These Three Things

62 Processing Fees That Can Hamstring Your Food Business

90 How Food Businesses Can Measure ROI From Digital Marketing Campaigns

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Editor’s Note


ast month, I had the pleasure of connecting with a very talented CEO by the name of Patrick Lockwood-Taylor. In our discussion centered on leadership, Patrick shared that he treats employees as though they were volunteers. Though I’ve never heard this before, I think it’s absolutely

brilliant. If you think about the definition of a volunteer, someone who “freely takes part in” something, you clearly understand the power of choice resides with the person. In contrast, however, many leaders believe they hold the power of choice over employees, when in fact it’s the employees all along, just like volunteers. If employees were treated as volunteers, someone “freely” taking part, the dynamics of the working relationship would drastically change. For leaders, a mindset of service would take shape and naturally lead to valuing, respecting, and appreciating people. For employees, they would channel the value, respect, and appreciation to higher levels of engagement and increased productivity. It would truly create a win-win scenario. That said, as you rise to the top, or if you’re operating in a leadership role today, I challenge you to adopt this philosophy of treating your employees as volunteers. And as a result, you may lay witness to a positive transformation with the most engaged employees you’ve ever had. As always, I hope you enjoy the latest issue and snag some fresh ideas, inspiration, and actionable advice.


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How to Lead Leadership

Generations Y and Z

By: Soulaima Gourani 10

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hese new times require new ways to work, think and live. The latest research shows that people who are bored or who don’t care about what they’re doing may die younger than their more engaged counterparts. Our bodies are designed to trigger an internal bomb to make an end to one’s sufferings. Simply put, you don’t live as long.

Food for thought, isn’t it? Generation Z and Y – ages 25-35+–have grown up seeing their parents sell their time and life to soul-crushing jobs. As a result, this younger generation will always ask “why?” They look for meaning in everything they do and to them, if there is no meaning, then there is no passion, and with no passion, they burn out or simply leave the workforce to find new ways to live. They are very loyal to their life values. So, when you think of this generation, refer to them as generation “WHY.” I like to refer to generation Z – also known as iGen and Post-Millennials – as “zappers,” because they “zap” through jobs. Research shows that this generation is expected to have 10-14 jobs before they turn 38 years old. Proving that job security is not enough; they are not looking to “just earn a living.” This group is looking for their job to fulfill a purpose, and if they can’t find a job that will satisfy their desire, they will create it. This generation will do what’s necessary to design their own lives. In other words, this generation will design a new way of living and working. How to lead people you cannot fire? Can you give them a real reason to stay in the position that is not built on salary or fear? If employers are looking to lead this new generation, then employers and companies may need to change the way their organizations are structured. entrepreneurial chef


Both of these generations want to design their own lives, create their own education and their own jobs. You as a manager/leader have to understand that you no longer can use a “one size fits all” mentality. They want to handpick and design their own lives. This is their new way of thinking, consuming and living.

As a manager, you must get used to the fact that your employees may not involve you in their life design. Having full access to these

There isn’t just one life design or master plan that fits everyone. There are more than 1 million combinations to relate too. Therefore, you will need to accept many different ways of “going to/being at work,” and you as a manager have to be as open-minded as they are. When it comes to education, young people are going to spend one year here, and one year there. Something may be done online, other things physically at a school. They won’t often have a diploma from just one school. They will combine and create their own education. It can almost hurt a “baby boomer” to hear about how the youths of the future now expect real flexibility and professional development, while they also insist on inspiration, passion, and purpose in the job. The future will be incredibly diverse. It will be about individual ways of living and working. Photo Credit: Archmotion

employees five days a week; during specific hours, or that we “own” them because of an employment contract – those times will be soon gone. Generation Z will demand that you, as the employer, accept and embrace their own individual life designs. 12

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Soulaima Gourani is a motivational speaker and philanthropist giving 200 talks globally each year. She is an advisor on customer loyalty, strategic networking, change management, employee motivation, and the future of business, having worked with various fortune 500 companies. She has been recognized as a management leader by the World Economic Forum and appointed by TED Talks as a mentor. Connect with her at www.soulaima.com.

Expert Advice

Pitching Your Idea

to Investors

You concocted the idea, created the plan, and worked up the confidence, but how will you pull off a flawless pitch? You know, the kind where investors are begging for the opportunity to work with you. We get that pitching investors is not easy, which is exactly why we connected with experts for some sound advice.


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Your Presentation Matters

It’s the little details that let potential investors know that you are serious about your idea and are committed to seeing it through. First impressions are everything. Often times, people don’t think about their presentation being anything more than a few PowerPoint slides, but investing in having those slides well designed sends the right message to the potential investor. Slides should be clean, with bullet points and not paragraphs. In a time where people are reading less, a compelling image really does speak louder than words.

It’s About Them, Not You

Jessica Watson President & Creative Director Points North Design Studio

When selling to investors, it’s important to remember that it’s not about you, it’s about them. It’s about the opportunity they have to make money as quickly and certainly as possible. Your entire pitch should be oriented around explaining how your concept generates cash. Show that you understand how to drive revenue – by building a business that isn’t about you, but about guests. You must prove that guests want what you are going to sell. Then show how that brings money to the investors. A solid concept with a proven market and professional financial projections wins. Tanner Agar Founder & Chef-Owner The Chef Shelf & Rye Mckinney entrepreneurial chef


Know What You Need

Know what you need to budget to launch successfully. An investor wants to know their money is spent wisely – this is called Use of Proceeds – and will have a defined ROI. They don’t want to eat it with this investment so speak about the ROI before you even present your samples. Even the nicest investor, introduced by your best friend, is going to ask, “How much money are you going to make me?” If you can’t answer this question, your plan is halfbaked, and not ready to be served. Stephanie Rach Founder & Creative Director IAG Media, Inc.

Pitch with a Story

When pitching investors, turn your pitch into a story. Share how your business idea came to be and future-pace how you will operate in business once you have the funding secured. Include vivid details about how you will impact the lives of your customers. For example, you’re not just giving customers food, you’re giving them an experience. They get the opportunity to make memories of a lifetime with those they love, enjoying your meals. The clearer the picture you can paint for investors, the better the pitch you can give. Storytelling is key because you’re able to build an emotional connection with others. Devoreaux Walton Personal Brand Expert & Consultant Distinct Personal Branding


entrepreneurial chef

Don’t Oversell & Bring the Energy

“It’s the next big thing, it’s a game-changer, and it’s a million-dollar idea,” are all phrases investors constantly get slammed with. Don’t oversell your idea. Keep it simple and to the point. Investors will know if you are blowing smoke, so don’t do it. Put energy into your pitch, investors like that. Find a fun way to pitch your idea and make your pitch just like you would to a customer. Remember, your investor is also your customer. They may want to know the numbers and finances, but they also want to know that you can sell.

Do Your Homework & Have a Plan

Dr. Ty Belknap Chief Executive Officer Port Bell, Inc.

Do your homework about their past business deals: successes, failures, and the types of people they like to work with. Understand what they want to get out of investing in your business, other than just money. Have a solid business plan for sustainable growth and development. Demonstrate you know the challenges of your particular market and how you plan to surmount them. If you know your numbers and have a response for the inevitable pushback that will arise, you’ll look better than your competition. Joe Robison Founder Green Flag Digital

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Promote Your Founder Value

The potential of the product and the business are not the only factors that investors pay attention to – your value as a founder and the leader of your business will be vital to their decisions. The greatest business won’t survive bad leadership, so it is important to promote the reasons why you are the perfect person to drive your food business to success. There have been cases where investors have supported less-than-awesome products just off the merit of the founding team alone.

Have a Niche Focus

Investors want to see a niche focus for food businesses. In our research, we have found many independent chefs who say they can do it all – any type of cuisine or any size event – and this is a red flag for investors. The restaurant industry is a $600 billion market, and there are business segments that are viable niches within this vast marketplace. Once you identify your niche, you should have an estimate – if only a rough estimate – of the size of the market. The estimate isn’t only a good figure to share with investors, it will help you calibrate the market you are going to serve. Katherine Hunter-Blyden Founder & CEO Hello Cheffy


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Mike Sims Founder & CEO Think Lions

Focus on the 5 M’s Money: Not just how much you’re asking for, but rather, how much you’re expecting to make – plus, how much the investor return could be. Management: Who are all the people running the show? Why are they the best fit for the role? What experiences and successes have they had? Show them the credibility. Model: Very simply, what are all the ways you’re going to make money? Revenue streams, sales channels, what are you charging your customers? Market: Self-explanatory, explain your target market. Momentum: If only research has been done so far, that’s okay, but maybe the chef has put in their own money to produce something tangible already. Or they’ve had a lot of momentum in their career, which has gotten them to the point where they are now. Showcase everything you can in terms of momentum so far. Samantha Urban Chief Executive Officer Urban Translations

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Success Story

Private Chef

Terry Braggs

Shares His Abrupt Entrepreneurial Start & Advice For Getting on Solid Ground By: Marie Reynolds


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graduate of Diablo Valley College in Hotel & Restaurant Management, Chef Terry Braggs has found his calling through his private chef and catering business, Bragging Ryts Catering. Braggs’ charisma and glowing smile have been featured on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” and the GGG Redemption Tournament.

Once an Executive Chef, Braggs submitted his notice to pursue an opportunity with the Food Network, but was crushed when producers notified him they took a different direction – on his last day of work no less. In short, Braggs needed a new game plan – enter private cheffing. With little resources, Braggs started his business with a few strategic moves, and in hindsight, the venture has proved to be a continuous learning experience and one of the most fulfilling endeavors of his life. From dishes inspired by French, Caribbean, Latin, and California cuisine, Braggs is not only passionate about food, but also introducing others to the joy of cooking. And when he isn’t taking over his client’s kitchens, he’s teaching culinary arts classes at both Williams Sonoma and Rudsdale Academy, a continuation high school in East Oakland, CA. In our time with Chef Braggs, he shared the abrupt start of his entrepreneurial journey, how he secures new clients, why energy can be more important than your food, and how others can find success as a private chef. entrepreneurial chef


& QA The


Terry Braggs

How did you get started as a private chef?

Any business mistakes that you made early on?

My career as a private chef was not planned. After being a contestant multiple times on Guy’s Grocery Games, Food Network offered me a spot on a new show. At the time, I was the Executive Chef at Orrick Law firm in San Francisco. Since I would be gone for a month to shoot, I put in my notice to take the opportunity with the Food Network. Unfortunately, the night before my last day I got a call from the producer informing me they were going a different way. As you can imagine, I was upset after giving up a six-figure position. Nevertheless, the wheels were already in motion for my next move.

Getting my business off the ground without doing a lot of research or forecasting expenses, I made mistakes – and still make mistakes – often. From “undercharging” for my services to not asking for help when I really needed it, I’ve learned to be more calculated and strategic in my decision making. It’s okay to be selective about taking on certain clients sometimes and knowing your limitations.

After attempting to open a restaurant and applying for various cooking jobs, I made the decision to utilize my 12 years of experience to start a business as a private chef. I began emailing a few clients I cooked for in the past, notifying my followers on social media, and making a business Yelp account. I hit the ground running with what I had, which wasn’t much, and in a couple of months, I got my first client. 24

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What’s helped you grow your clientele? Growing my clientele has taken consistency, patience, and determination. I treat each client as if they’re my only client, I pay attention to detail, and go above and beyond. Clients want to feel special, and I realized that early on. Connecting with people, in general, has always been a strong attribute of mine, and when you do that genuinely, it leaves a lasting impression.

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Can you share the marketing activities you do to acquire new clients?

For someone to be successful as a personal chef, what’s your advice for them?

Social media has been my main source of marketing because it’s free, and more importantly, everyone is on there. To gain new clients, I often pay for advertisements so that my posts will reach a targeted audience. I also collaborate with other chefs or brands as much as I can. For example, Williams Sonoma always welcomes chefs into their stores, so I’ve become great friends with the managers of the stores in my area. I host a free cooking class or demo at least once a month for potential clients to get to know me, pass out business cards, and most importantly, try samples of my food.

Confidence is a major key as a private chef. If you carry yourself with confidence, from the minute you walk into your client’s home until the time you leave, you’ll gain their respect and trust faster than a chef that doubts him or herself.

If you carry yourself with confidence, from the minute you walk into your clients home until the time you leave, you’ll gain their respect and trust faster than a chef that doubts him or herself. 26

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As a private chef, it isn’t always about the food you cook, sometimes it’s about the energy you bring into their home. Generally, good energy comes from doing what you love, so if you don’t love it 100%, get out now. Relax and let your personality shine bright. Make your client feel lucky to have you, and happy they hired you. Always remain professional in any case, but also smile often – it’s contagious. Remember, you’re part of the family. Keep client info confidential and don’t discuss what goes on at their homes with anyone.

How do you use social media to drive awareness or attain new clients? I make sure to post something to do with my business on my social media daily. If you want potential clients to notice you, consistency is crucial. Paying to “boost” posts on Facebook or Instagram are great ways to reach clientele who wouldn’t normally see your posts. There are literally millions of people on social media so ask yourself what sets your product apart and market that accordingly. Along with your photos of plated dishes, occasionally include shots of your personal life to give your followers a taste of who you are as a person. Even if your food is to die for, if don’t have a personality, you won’t get the job.

From “undercharging� for my services to not asking for help when I really needed it, I’ve learned to be more calculated and strategic in my decision making.

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What’s been the toughest part about working for yourself and how do you cope with this? The toughest part about working for myself is prioritizing – knowing what can wait and what needs to get done as soon as possible can be a huge challenge. To cope, I create a to-do list and physically mark tasks off as I go. When I have ten things to be done, focusing one at a time keeps me from feeling overwhelmed – super simple solution, but highly effective.

For other chef entrepreneurs, what’s a caution you have for them? Embrace who you are as a chef. Avoid comparing yourself to others and adopting what someone else is doing in an attempt to get people to like you. Patiently find your clientele and continue to be authentic. Don’t be afraid to be unique, while simultaneously giving your clients what they want. Photo Credit: Jennifer Marvin 28

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I hit the ground running with what I had, which wasn’t much, and in a couple of months, I got my first client.


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Product Creation

Before Launching

our Sauce,

I Wish We Knew These

Three Things By: Theo Lee


entrepreneurial chef



tarting any kind of food business is incredibly difficult. Whether it is a restaurant, food brand, or even blog, there are a

million different things to consider. Challenges such as choosing a name, branding, products, and entity type can prevent you from getting your company up and running. However, with preparation, hustle, and some help, you can overcome these obstacles. It’s impossible to be prepared for everything, and in many ways, that’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur and starting your own business. Between my cofounder Mike Kim and I, the course has been a little bumpy, but KPOP Foods is growing. Despite the knowledge gained by trial and error, we ultimately wish we knew these three things before launching the company.

The Importance of Working with a Food Scientist We debuted our first product, KPOP Sauce, a gochujang (Korean chili paste) sauce based on a family recipe, on Kickstarter in April of last year. Making samples based on my grandma’s recipe in my kitchen was easy and straightforward. What we didn’t realize was the importance of having a food scientist to check the recipe for scalability, shelf stability, and processing. If an ingredient amount was wrong in our recipe, you wouldn’t notice the impact because it was a small batch. However, on a larger scale of making thousands of bottles, one small error could be catastrophic: changing the entire flavor or ruining the shelf stability of the product. We also didn’t realize how much acidity and pH levels affected the shelf stability. These aspects can translate over to your processing method, which depending on cold-fill or hot-fill, can affect your packaging from using a plastic bottle to a glass bottle. entrepreneurial entrepreneurialchef chef 31 31

influence your working capital or the amount of money tied to your inventory. Sometimes a manufacturer may require you purchase 100,000 units of an item, which can be difficult to swallow as an early company. Knowing this ahead of time would have changed our budgeting, the amount of capital we wanted to raise, and our process for selecting packaging.

The Importance of PR

Knowing this ahead of time, we would have planned things out differently, given the fact we were on a timeline to fulfill our Kickstarter orders. It took us an additional month to get the sauce’s formulation to a point where we were happy with its flavor (and we continue to make small tweaks). Additionally, the California Health Department performed a two-month case study on our formulation to guarantee shelf stability, a necessary but unforeseen step. Thankfully, we had planned enough buffer time that we were able to fulfill our orders on time, but it would have been helpful to know these things before going into this process.

We started our company by selling online through our website and Amazon. This way, we could conserve capital and generate higher profitability, as opposed to jumping straight into retail. While we knew PR was important, we had never worked with a PR firm, and we quickly learned the significance of PR. A PR firm can drastically move the needle by getting your story out to the right outlets. Sometimes going with a more niche PR firm is worthwhile, other times it may be more beneficial to go with a freelancer who can get your story out to more mainstream outlets. Knowing this information ahead of time, we would have changed our initial PR strategy. Photo Credit: Richard Tamayo

Changes in Packaging Are Expensive While you can always change your packaging, the costs associated with doing so are significant. Small changes to packaging may lead to time spent on re-creating the plates and equipment required to make your labels and packaging, thus costing thousands of dollars. Even small adjustments, such as a misprint on the nutrition panel, can lead to making completely new plates for packaging. Along with that, when purchasing the packaging from manufacturers, you have to be aware of the minimum order quantities. These quantities can 32

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Co-founders, Theo Lee and Mike Kim, are both MBA graduates from UCLA Anderson. Prior to Anderson, Mike served in the U.S. Army earning a B.S. in Engineering Management from West Point, while Theo worked in finance earning a B.A. in Economics from UCLA. At KPOP Foods, Mike serves as the COO and Theo as the CEO.

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Cover Story



The Real Cost of Fame & Notoriety By: Jay Michael


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ans of Aarón Sánchez’s food might look at his career with awe because in many ways, he’s got it all: reputation, notoriety, a decades-long career in the food industry, brand partnerships and TV spots on MasterChef and Chopped to top it off. The chef, famous for his Latino-style cooking is living his dream and sure, he has the glamour that comes with success, but what’s especially interesting is his roots and the lead-up to where he is today.

Chef Sánchez always wanted his own

Prudhomme. There, he learned valuable

restaurant. That was the goal and

lessons for working in the kitchen

having been raised in a restaurant

taking them with him to San Francisco,

family, it was a realistic one. His mother

Texas and around the U.S. In 1998,

ran the top Mexican restaurant in New

he opened his first restaurant in the

York City for three decades, setting

lower east side of New York. 15 years

a solid foundation for what Sánchez

later, he followed that with Centrico

would later go on to do. In his teens,

and eventually Johnny Sánchez. Here,

the loss of his father led to a rebellious

Chef Sánchez explains the business

phase. He was sent to New Orleans

and branding tactics that led to this

where he trained under Chef Paul

success. entrepreneurial entrepreneurial chefchef 35


& QA The


Aarón Sánchez

What was it about that first restaurant that helped get you on the map? It was a true representation of who I was all about capturing the Latin spirit and being innovative, while still being inviting and not pretentious. The food was really inspired – it was the food I always wanted to cook. I worked with local farmers and chefs, and my sister was the GM at Paladar, so it had a family element to it. Prior to that first restaurant, all of my chef mentors really stressed the importance of developing my own culinary voice. That’s what helped me early on. I learned to distinguish myself from the pack – work on my craft and develop my style. Those are the lessons I’ve taken with me along the way.


entrepreneurial chef

With positive influences from people like your mother, and even Chef Prudhomme, did they help you understand the importance of developing a personal brand? Chef Prudhomme was the first celebrity chef in my opinion. He’d travel the country doing book tours, food festivals and making himself available. I always had him as an example, but for me, it was never a brand issue. I wanted to have my own restaurant. That was my dream. The brand part started later when I realized I could reach people with my story, my food, and my message. TV played a big part in that, and it continues to be a tool that I use to connect with people today.

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The idea of keeping it real and then doing the TV thing made me worry I’d be perceived as a sellout and not spending enough time in my kitchen. What was the transition like as your personal brand was taking shape and you were becoming a recognizable public figure?

go through. When I started getting recognized more from TV, I felt even more pressure to make sure the restaurants were taken care of. You have notoriety so the expectation gets higher and the room for error gets smaller. You have to focus and get your shit together.

I had conflicting feelings because you want to be that chef who’s at the restaurant every Saturday night keeping it real. I never took a weekend off in ten years – like never. The idea of keeping it real and then doing the TV thing made me worry I’d be perceived as a sellout and not spending enough time in my kitchen. I think that conflict is something a lot of my peers

But for me, the added challenges are well worth it because having a major content platform allows me to share my culture, love of food and passion for new discovery with people across the world. So while the transition took some getting used to, I‘m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that have come my way because of TV.


entrepreneurial chef

You mention being away from the restaurant, so how do you handle fans going to the restaurant expecting to see you? First and foremost, every restaurant is only as good as the team behind it, and we’re fortunate to have an incredible team in place. Chef Miles, my partner and Executive Chef, shares my vision and helps ensure the consistency is there every day. Our FOH team is committed to service and authenticity which is crucial to the vibe of Johnny Sánchez. I’m at the restaurant as often as possible, and I make it a priority to say hello to all of our guests when I am. The reality is I have other obligations and can’t be at the restaurant every day, but I believe our guests are understanding of that as long as the food, service and overall experience are consistent and authentic to who I am.

Were there parts of having a personal brand and being a public figure that you struggled with? Oh yeah, fame and notoriety come with a price. It cost me a marriage. It cost me not seeing my son as much as I’d like to. It has obviously impacted my privacy – especially with social media, etc. I do my best to keep mentally and physically fit and spiritually conscious. With that said, I genuinely love connecting and interacting with fans. It’s a privilege to be able to inspire, educate or simply entertain others. Which is why I never take it for granted and almost always make myself available for pictures, a quick chat or simply responding to people on social media. Obviously, it’s hard to keep up with it at all times, but I do my best and hope that people know I’m the same person on and off camera.

Fame and notoriety come with a price. I do my best to keep mentally and physically fit and spiritually conscious.

entrepreneurial chef


I had to take a step back and take a lower position and learn the nuts and bolts. I found that very helpful because it allowed me to slow down and do the necessary thing to gets better.


entrepreneurial chef

You mentioned past sacrifices, as such, how do you find balance between your personal and professional life? I’m still trying to figure that out, and it’s something I constantly work on. Scheduling personal time just like I schedule business obligations helps a lot. Put it on your calendar and make sure it’s not moveable. As I’ve gotten more successful financially, I’ve been able to put a team around me that helps me be more productive and thoughtful about my time. You have to empower other people so that you’re not needed at all times. I feel that entrepreneurs and people who run businesses who can’t relinquish control are going to be a slave to their own business and it can ultimately have the opposite effect you are going for. There’s a quote from hall of fame NFL coach Tony Dungy that I love, “Balance provides the chance for longevity. You can be a champion at work and at home.” Not sure I’ve figured it out exactly, but it’s something I continue to strive for.

You mention relinquishing control, did it take you a while to get there? Absolutely. It took a lot of discovery on my part to be like: “Why am I holding on so tight? Why am I not confident that they can deal without me?“ I started to understand my own values. I realized that if I’m at that restaurant every single day, I’m belittling my ability to inspire others and send my message to a wider audience. That’s a missed opportunity.

Make owners out of your employees; allow them to share in the pot.

entrepreneurial chef


What helped you not only relinquish control as you mentioned but also get your team to step up? A big part is to make owners out of your employees. Allow them to share in the pot. When the manager or chef has worked to gain a piece of the pie, and they’ve proven they should, you give it to them to show that you have faith in them. That’s a big part of it. Incentivize. That’s one of the biggest things that I’m working on all the time. I want my staff engaged and feeling like they’re in a situation where they can grow.

Outside of money, what else do you do to get your employees to buy-in so they operate at a high level? A big part of what we do is make sure we have a great management team and a hierarchy where everyone has a voice. When I have business meetings, I have the final say, but everything is on the table. It creates an environment of empowerment and value, and then everyone feels like they are participating and that’s extremely important. Everyone has to have a voice. Most great ideas come from collaboration, as we all know.

Changing gears, as your personal brand was taking shape, how did you go about monetizing it? Time is money, so if I’m not at my restaurant, I can’t pay myself because I’m no longer a cog 42

entrepreneurial chef

Everyone has to have a voice. Most great ideas come from collaboration, as we all know. in the business. I have to pay a chef to take the responsibility. So now, that income has to get shifted. What I’d normally make at my restaurant has to be matched by something else. That took time. I can be used for a Spanish speaking audience and in an English capacity so I can be utilized in two different markets. It took time to figure out what my value was.

For the young entrepreneurs trying to get to your level, what are you seeing? For all the entrepreneurial chefs who want to blow up, I get it man. But what I’m seeing is everyone rushing. They aren’t working on their craft; they’re using media outlets to give them more credibility than they really have. Instead of posting about all the people you’re cooking for, you should be interning with some grandma in Ecuador and really developing your craft. A word of caution to everyone out there: us older chefs see that, and we see who the fakers and the jokers are. Work on your craft, hone a culinary voice that has credibility, make delicious food, and all the other stuff will come.

Success doesn’t

necessarily equate to monetary value. It’s more about

happiness, and it

equates to how you’re perceived and if you enjoy what you’re doing.

entrepreneurial chef


What’s your definition of success? I don’t think any success can be shared alone and that’s extremely important. You have to be able to take the success you have and continue to build upon it. Keep people engaged in what you’re doing. You’re constantly in this position of imparting knowledge and working on your product and your craft. You’re also feeding yourself and making sure that you’re doing everything necessary to stay relevant and travel for inspiration. Success doesn’t necessarily equate to monetary value. It’s more about happiness, and it equates to how you’re perceived and if you enjoy what you’re doing. If you enjoy what you do and people can rally behind it, it’s a beautiful thing.

A lot of times for people to achieve that success, they have to endure mistakes, so what mistake(s) did you make along the way? One of the biggest ones was early on, I took on too much as a young chef, and I couldn’t back up what I was doing. I was a young kid with talent, but I had no idea how to manage people or run the financial part of a restaurant. It suffered. I had to take a step back and take a lower position and learn the nuts and bolts. I found that very helpful because it allowed me to slow down and do the necessary things to gets better.

Photo Credits: Randy Schmidt, FOX 44

entrepreneurial chef

If you were to give advice to the aspiring food entrepreneurs working on their dream, what would you say? In general, make sure you surround yourself with good people – find mentors, partners, investors that share your vision and are committed to the same standards that you have. Make sure you love what you do and never stop learning. You should constantly be on a mission to discover. When it comes to opening a restaurant, make sure you really understand your contracts an your obligations. Also, a good real estate deal will go a very long way.

Work on your craft, get a culinary voice that has credibility, make delicious food, and all the other stuff will come.

For the forward-thinking passion-driven food entrepreneur (and anyone else who loves reading about them)

Read about the successes & failures from the most celebrated chefs & restaurateurs in the world. Start your free trial today.



Getting Your Staff to Do

Their Best Work Day-In & Day-Out By: Chef Chris Hill


entrepreneurial chef


ased on my own experience, and in hearing stories from people around the world, a common struggle is getting our staff to do exactly what we need. As creative individuals, we want control over the final

product. We want to make sure things come out right, but just as important, we want to know we can trust the process leading up to the final product – we want to know that our employees didn’t cut corners somewhere along the way that could compromise the outcome. The problem with most of us, though, is that inherent in this situation is the necessity for us to let go and to trust those with whom we work – we need to trust that they will get the job done. But, how do we get there? Well, there are four key things.

We need to properly train our staff. We need to give them the tools and resources that will help them to be successful. So many of us get frustrated when we don’t see the results we want from certain individuals, but so often, if we take a step back and look in the mirror, we’ll see that perhaps their lack of success within our organization falls more on us than on them. Sure, there is a certain amount of personal responsibility that comes with every job and task, but are we training people properly? Are we giving them recipes to follow? Are we acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses and assigning them certain roles within the organization that tap into their strengths while at the same time minimizing their weaknesses? entrepreneurial chef


We need to create an environment that is safe. What does this mean exactly? Well, to put it simply, for individuals to do their best work and to properly grow, we need to create an environment that allows them to grow creatively and stretch beyond their comfort zones. We need to give them the space to fail on their own without being punished for it. Because, if they have the chance to fail on their own, soon enough, they will get the hang of it – on their own. We need to empower them. By empowering people in our organizations, we give them the confidence needed as they go down this road of trying to figure things out for themselves. If I give you a task and you screw it up the first time, but I still show the confidence in you to figure it out, you’re much more likely to succeed in figuring it out, versus if I berate you and give you a hard time. Empowering people isn’t about expecting them to be perfect and flawless, it’s about trusting them to continually move closer to getting it right, until eventually somewhere down the line, they do indeed get it right. If you create a proper environment of safety, empowerment looks like confidence and trust. If you don’t, it looks like intimidation and disappointment. 48

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We need to hold them accountable. First off, accountability is not about them getting it right all the time. Holding someone accountable doesn’t mean you expect for them to be perfect. Instead, it means that you have high standards for them, because you expect so much from them. The key with accountability is setting clear expectations, communicating those expectations and then giving someone a break if they failed to reach those expectations, even if they poured their heart and soul into meeting them. Accountability is what allows us to grow, but only if the person being held accountable feels like the person holding them accountable has their best interest in mind. Why do you have their best interest in mind? Well, because you want them to grow in your organization, but more importantly, because you care – you want to see them grow in their career. You want to see them tap into their full potential – you want to see them grow into who you always knew they were capable of becoming. None of this is easy. Most of it is hard. But it’s all worth it. Buying into this will take a load of stress off of you, while at the same time allowing and facilitating your team’s growth in ways you never knew possible. Photo Credit: Kzenon

Chef Chris Hill is regularly featured on TV shows in various markets throughout the Southeast. His writing & work have been featured in numerous publications, in addition to authoring his book “Crush Your Career: A Proven Path to a Sustainable Life in the Kitchen.” He speaks at various colleges & universities regarding culinary media, branding, social media, and the realm of food writing.

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Success Story

H o w

Kirsten Helle

Launched and Grew Her Line of Sauces and Bases By: Jenna Rimensnyder


entrepreneurial chef



little over a year after launching her brand of sauces and bases, Mesa de Vida, Chef Kirsten Helle has secured a partnership with Whole30. The Whole30 program, now

in book form, has sold over a million hardcover copies in the United States alone and is now offering Mesa de Vida cooking bases in three varieties as “Whole30 Approved” – with new flavors in development. Products are sold through online retailers Barefoot Provisions, Canada’s Natural Market, and in select Pacific Northwest independent retailers.

After “accidentally” losing 100 pounds during her transition to a healthy lifestyle, Helle began her journey in the food business as a personal chef to professional athletes. Appearing on Food Network, the cover of Woman’s Day and Women’s World magazines,

Helle is living proof that healthy choices – both in and out of the kitchen – can have a positive impact on life. Now, sharing her product with millions through the new partnership, Helle is sharing her path to entrepreneurship and advice for fellow food entrepreneurs launching a product line. entrepreneurial chef


Q&A The


Kirsten Helle

After the idea to create your line of sauces, how did you get started? I started by spending a year and a half researching the category and similar businesses. I consulted with MBA students, spoke with other food brand founders, and started building out the business plan.

Did you start with a single product or a full line initially? I started offering two flavors, with a planned rollout of an additional two flavors within six months. I wanted to test the response to the first two flavors and make sure our ordering platform was working – work out any kinks on fulfillment, shipping, etc. 52

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It also helped so we didn’t have to buy too much inventory right out of the gate, and the sales of the first two flavors helped generate the capital needed to produce the other two sauces.

What was the hardest part of launching your product and how’d you overcome? The hardest part is the rollercoaster. Starting your own business, and taking such a risk is such a journey of ups and downs. I can’t say that I’ve overcome that yet because I don’t think that ever goes away. But I’ve learned to embrace the ride, and not let the low points become a discouragement. I know that when I’m in the valley, the peak is right around the corner.

entrepreneurial chef


I started by spending a year and a half

researching the category and similar businesses.

How did you get your first sales and what was that period like for you?

Any business mistakes made in the evolution of creating and launching your sauces? I took a lot of advice from “experts,” or people with business degrees. What I found after talking with other successful food brand founders is that there is no one right way to do things. What works for other businesses doesn’t necessarily work for the food business. I always felt like since I didn’t have a business degree that I needed to do what others told me to do. I have found that every time my instincts told me it was wrong, that my instincts were right, so I listen to that more nowadays. I also seek out advice and mentors that are in similar categories to my brand, because each category is so different. 54

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I first went to market through e-commerce. It is so great to see the orders come in, pack it up, then be able to reach back out to the customer for feedback. I then did a demo at my local Williams Sonoma, which allowed me to make direct sales. That was a fantastic experience. We sold so many sauces I thought “Woohoo, retail here I come!” I started getting a few local retail accounts that allowed self-distribution. That is when I learned that retail is a fickle friend. When you’re on the shelf next to many other brands, how do you tell the story of how you can help them? How do you follow up with the customer? How do you show them all of the great recipes they can make? Now, I am focusing mostly on e-commerce, while still being available in select retail accounts. I love the ability to make an impact on my customers, and I love being able to have them reach out to me directly after their purchase, then continuing to build a relationship with them. I want to make an impact in people’s homes and their lives, I want them to feel like Mesa de Vida is a part of their family table, and e-commerce allows that.

What marketing and advertising actions have you taken that have worked extremely well? Authentic, genuine marketing and brand messaging is what is working. There are so many big brands, and there is no way to compete on pricing or advertising dollars, so I am going for a customer base like myself – I want to know that the product I’m choosing was made with passion and purpose, not just a commodity to make a profit. I love some of the catchy and fun marketing tactics some brands use, but I also know that those tactics aren’t my style, and I don’t want anything to be forced or contrived. I always want to remain authentic to who we are, and what we are about.

How did the Whole30 partnership come about?

The sales of the first two flavors helped generate the capital needed to produce the other two sauces.

Several years ago, when researching for the business plan, I had the goal of our products getting Whole30 approval, but I figured that wouldn’t happen until we are nationwide in stores, and a huge brand. I decided to stick my neck out and shoot an email one day to tell my story. I sent out samples, and they loved them. Their community loves to find products that make cooking simpler, more delicious, and that’s what we offer. We have flavors inspired by vibrant cultures from around the world which come in dried seasonings, or in one-use pouches. I’m so honored to partner with the Whole30 program because I know how healthy food can change a life – it truly did change mine. They are making a positive impact on millions of people’s health and quality of life, and I’m so thrilled to share my story and my sauces with their community. entrepreneurial chef


I’ve learned to embrace the ride, and not let the low points become a discouragement.


entrepreneurial chef

Photo Credit: Audra Mulkern

For other food entrepreneurs launching a product line, what’s your advice for them? My advice is to stay authentic. Get out there and get people to try your product as soon as possible, so you get honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board, and don’t let outside noise cloud your vision or instincts. Also, this is likely one of the hardest, arduous businesses out there, so be prepared to work endless hours, do everything yourself, and not see a paycheck for a while. But if you stick with it and have a great product, it will all be worth it.

I decided to stick my neck out and shoot an email one day to tell my story. I sent out samples, and they loved them. entrepreneurial chef



Tools of the Trade with David Burke

James Beard Award-winning Chef David Burke is a culinary icon who’s opened more than a dozen restaurants, is set to open Grand Tavern by David Burke in St. Louis this year, and has racked up a laundry list of accolades along the way. In this segment of “Tools of the Trade,” Chef Burke shares the top ten tools that are pivotal in bringing his cuisine to the next level.


entrepreneurial chef

Microplane Zester Chefs are always looking for simple ways to boost flavor, so I use this grater to quickly zest citrus, grate Parmigianino Reggiano cheese and other finishing ingredients.

Peugeot Pepper Mill, 7-inch

It’s important for chefs to have attention to detail, especially seasoning. This Peugeot Pepper Mill is a classic, crafted with quality wood, a stainless steel grinder, and multiple grind settings.

Town Stainless Steel Fish Scaler

We’re known for great seafood at both Tavern62 and BLT Prime, so this stainless steel fish scaler from Town is an essential and reliable tool. entrepreneurial chef


Smart Pack 12” x 3mm Diameter Round Bamboo Skewers Kebabs, from vegetable to octopus and chorizo, are some of my go-to grilling dishes. These Smart Pack Bamboo skewers are the perfect balance of sturdy and thin to hold the kebab in place while on the grill and for service.

Vollrath 10” High-Temperature Silicone Spatula This heat-resistant spatula has a flexible blade and is great for stovetop cooking, everything from eggs to sautéed vegetables. 60

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OXO Simple Mandoline

Presentation is very important to me, and this mandoline comes in handy as a quick way to cut fruits and vegetables into attractive and elegant slices or julienned strips. Even if you’re changing the cut, you don’t have to change the blade; this mandoline is as convenient as it gets.

Toque-Oeuf Rosle Brand This nifty little tool is great for creative presentations involving eggs and eggshells. I can perfectly slice the top of the egg and remove the yolk, so the shell can be repurposed as a cup or bowl.

Black Sharpie Marker (tip type: Super)

When you’re a chef and restaurateur, the to-do lists pile up. With the bold dark ink Sharpies, I can write clear notes to keep myself, and my teams at my restaurants, organized and on-task.

2-inch Chip Paint Brush This is my go-to tool for basting meats, as well as for painting sauces and glazes on plates for decorative plating presentations.

Escali Primo Digital Scale

I also make a lot of desserts, so when baking this digital scale is both easy to read and accurate for consistent ingredient measurements. entrepreneurial chef


Financial Management

Hidden Payment Processing Fees That Can Hamstring Your Food Business By: RJ Horsley


entrepreneurial chef



s a food entrepreneur, it’s nearly impossible to do business without accepting credit card payments. Unfortunately, many payment

processing vendors quote rates that appear reasonable at first glance but turn out to be exorbitant thanks to various hidden fees. Based on our years of experience consulting with merchants at SpotOn, there are six common fees you’ll want to avoid. After all, getting these in check will positively impact that bottom line.

Annual Fees

Payment processors often charge this fee, ostensibly to cover their operating costs, but don’t be fooled. Payment processors already add a markup to the fixed costs charged by credit card associations – Visa, Mastercard, etc. – and the banks that issue the credit cards. That markup is there specifically to cover the payment processor’s costs and ensure they make a profit. If they also charge an annual fee, they are lining their own pockets at your expense.

Batch Fees Some payment processors charge a fee when you settle your transactions during what’s called the batch-out or settlement process. These fees tend to be low, but pile up over time. After all, you should be batching out at least once a day – if you’re not, you’re likely being penalized with higher rates – and if you

have multiple POS terminals, you should be batching out each one individually on a daily basis. Over the course of the year, all those little charges add up.

PCI Fees PCI compliance is a legitimate concern, but that doesn’t mean you should be charged for it. PCI compliance is a set of data security standards established by the Payment Card Industry to prevent fraud. Staying compliant is a shared responsibility between you and your payment processor. Some payment processors provide services to help you meet your end of PCI compliance and charge a PCI fee to cover those services. Other companies charge a fee without helping you stay in compliance because they can get away with it. In contrast, reputable companies like SpotOn help you stay in compliance without hitting you with a separate fee. entrepreneurial chef


Terminal Fees Terminal fees are often charged to businesses for using POS systems to accept credit cards. It’s another way many payment processing companies charge you twice for the same service. After all, they are a payment processing vendor. Why are they adding a markup to credit card processing rates and then charging you extra to accept credit cards? Once again, the answer is because they can get away with it. Monthly Minimums The way payment pricing is typically structured, your payment processor has a good month when you have a good month since they are taking a small percentage off your transaction volume. Unfortunately, many processors make sure they get paid well even when your business has a bad month by charging a monthly minimum fee.

Early Termination Fees Numerous payment processors require long-term contracts up to four to five years. The penalty for canceling is almost always a costly termination fee. Sometimes you can be charged the full amount of fees the payment processor expected to capture from your 64

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business over the course of the contract term. That can easily be thousands of dollars. To add insult to injury, the payment processors that charge early termination fees are usually the same ones that charge other hidden fees. Choose one of those vendors and here’s how it plays out: 1) You get quoted a low discount rate; 2) You sign a contract, thinking you’re going to save money; 3) You get your first bill and see you’re paying way more thanks to all those hidden fees; 4) You cancel your contract and get hit with a hefty termination fee.

And Many More Those are the six most common fees, but there are plenty of others. As with any big financial decision, be well-informed and ask questions before signing a contract with a payment processing company. Your goal should be to partner with a payment processor that not only gives you the right hardware and software tools for your business, but also transparent, affordable pricing. Photo Credit: Team Oktopus

RJ Horsley is the President of SpotOn Transact, LLC, a cutting-edge payments, and software company redefining the merchant services industry. SpotOn brings together payment processing and customer engagement software, giving merchants richer data and tools that empower them to market more effectively to their customers.

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?


17,000+ students 191 public high school teachers 179 schools 2,000+ industry partners

Mentor or hire a student 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


The Inception Chef:

Food Trends Begin with Innovators In Collaboration With: The following food trends are all in the Inception Stage of Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC). Inception is where trends begin – these ingredients and dishes exemplify originality in flavor, preparation, and presentation. 66

entrepreneurial chef



Compared to other red meats, elk meat is leaner, has more protein, and less cholesterol. Why It’s Trendy: Specialty varieties of meat like elk, bison, and venison have been trending. It’s a versatile protein that can be used in numerous applications, from burgers to jerky to salad toppings and more.



1% Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

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Black Garlic One of Datassential’s 10 Flavors to Watch for in 2018, black garlic are garlic cloves created by aging full bulbs in an environment of specialized heat and humidity.


Why It’s Trendy: Any hint of garlic’s texture and sharpness is gone once the bulbs become black garlic. The result is a sweet flavor with notes of molasses, and a certain funk similar to fermented items (black garlic does not ferment). Funky, edgy flavoring is trending and a way for chefs to stand out.



35% 15%

Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

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Pho This traditional Vietnamese noodle dish consists of a flavored broth with meat or chicken. It includes ingredients like fresh herbs, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seed, and other spices.


Why It’s Trendy: Along with other global flavors, Southeast Asian cuisine is trending on menus. This versatile noodle soup allows operators to experiment with both authentic and modern versions, depending on consumer tastes.

41% 23%

2% Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

entrepreneurial chef


Persimmon A small, orange-colored fruit from a tree native to East Asia that can add sweetness and texture to a wide variety of dishes. Why It’s Trendy: Persimmons were the fastest-growing fruit on menus last year. The unique fruit can be used in everything from beverages to baked goods. It’s also perfect on its own in salads, cheese plates, and more.

35% 25%




Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

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Success Story

Sponsored by: American Lamb Board

How a

Sheep Producer

Reinvented His Business Model 72

entrepreneurial chef



here are approximately 80,000 sheep farms and ranches in the United States The vast majority of the nation’s sheep operations are family owned and operated. And they’re located in every state. Today’s shepherds are family focused, entrepreneurial and dedicated to the health and welfare of the sheep. When you menu local lamb, you are supporting local sheep operations.

Shepherds care for their sheep by making sure

clear undergrowth in forests and wooded areas and


wineries using sheep


to graze weeds in the

with the environment,

vineyards. One of the

a clean water source

first sheep producers







predators. Sheep work like self-propelled


to develop a business model based not only on lamb but also around these

Their natural grazing skills have led

sheep grazing skills is Don Watson,

to some interesting uses, such as

president of Napa Valley Lamb Company

preventing forest fires by having sheep

and Rocky Mountain Wooly Weeders. entrepreneurial chef


Can you tell us about yourself and your business? We have about 2000 sheep ewes and 500 goats grazing across Napa, Sonoma, Marin and Solano counties in California. In addition to providing milk-fed lamb to the finest restaurants in the Bay area, we also provide environmentally sensitive mowing services for vineyards, and open lands from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountain region.

How did you get into the sheep industry? My wife Carolyn and I graduated from the University of California in Davis in the early 1980s. I was a Certified Public Accountant, and Carolyn was an expert in SEC filings. We started in the sheep business after a dear friend died of cancer. Disillusioned with corporate life, we resigned from our jobs and traveled for a year in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. Somehow we ended up on a sheep and cattle station. When we returned to Napa Valley, we started our sheep business.

What type of sheep do you raise? We raise a mosaic of British sheep breeds – Suffolk, Hampshire, Shropshire and Dorset. To these breeds, we have added East Fresian, Texel and Persian Fat Tail. Our sheep have milkfed lambs that are ready to harvest and process at 100 to 150 days. They weigh about 70 to 80 pounds at the time of harvest. The carcasses delivered to area restaurants weigh 30 to 40 pounds.

Where do you sell your lamb? Most of our lamb is sold to area restaurants. During the past 30 years, we have become friends with many of the great chefs of San Francisco and Napa Valley. Our lamb is served from Mustards Grill to Manresa. Along the way, we stop for Quince, Kokkari, State Bird, Zuni CafĂŠ and Evvia. Our lamb is also retailed at Sonoma Market, Bi Rite in San Francisco and Golden Gate Meat at the Ferry Plaza. 74

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We discovered that sheep are the ideal mower for vineyards during the winter dormant season and they make great pluckers for the vines in mid-summer.

Why did you begin moving your sheep into the vineyards? A couple dozen of our sheep escaped into our neighbor’s vineyard, which just happened to belong to Robert Mondavi. As penance for the damage I imagined the sheep wrought on the vines, I donated some lambs to a Napa Valley wine auction dinner. There, the vineyard manager asked when I could bring the sheep back. We discovered that sheep are the ideal mower for vineyards during the winter dormant season and they make great pluckers for the vines in mid-summer. We introduced other wineries to the concept of using sheep as part of their grape growing practices.

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Where else do your Wooly Weeders operate?

basic elements of sun, rain, and soil and we nurture life. The sheep are the harvester of the grassland and chaparral. We then take them to the dinner table.

The Wooly Weeders work for NASCAR at the Sonoma Raceway as well. We also contract to mow, weed and fertilize 5,000 acres of open space and farmland each year. The fire mitigation work we did last year saved several homes from the fires in Napa and Sonoma. It is now quite obvious that the value of sheep is more than just lamb and wool.

I also get to work with amazing, creative chefs who honor our animals. There is an undeniable connection between wine, food, and sheep.

What is your favorite part of your job?

It is now quite

Each of us is born with a calling. Mine just happens to be sheep herding. The best part of my job is working with sheep. We take the

value of sheep

obvious that the is more than just lamb and wool.


entrepreneurial chef

Sheep producers in this country have a

commitment to the land, the animals,

our families and our What is your biggest challenge?

local communities.

The greatest challenge that we face is theft. Rustling is alive and well on the western range.

What do you want people to know about American Lamb and American Lamb industry? Sheep producers in this country have a commitment to the land, the animals, our families and our local communities. I hope that people will enjoy local lamb in their homes and when they dine out.

Do you have a favorite lamb cut or dish? We got into this business because we love lamb. We grill the rack and loin, we roast the legs, and we braise shanks, shoulders, and neck. This week, I will be grilling some lamb burgers. I use any leftover ground lamb for tacos. Photo Credit: Robyn Lehr entrepreneurial chef


How Did They

How Did They

Get Funded Being underfunded is the number one barrier preventing aspiring food entrepreneurs from launching their venture. In this month’s segment, we connect with five food entrepreneurs who opened up about how they funded their business and the advice they have for others. 78

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Savings + Investors + Bank Getting Funded: I funded my venture with a combination of savings, family investors, other investors, and a local non-profit credit institution. Advice: My advice for those looking to fund their business; put your money where your heart is. Investors are unlikely to invest in your venture if they do not see you have skin in the game. Also, for lender financing, carefully consider interest rate vs. ease of obtaining the loan. What looks sweet and easy in the beginning, might look bitter later on, and vice versa. Jelena Pasic Founder of Harlem Shake

Self-Funded & Bootstrapped Getting Funded: We are proudly a 100% self-funded business; bootstrapped from inception until now. Though we’ve been offered investor opportunities, we haven’t found the right fit for our business so far. We’ve focused on maintaining a lean team with strong skills in the F&B content production industry. It helps not only keep our initial costs low, but also to provide the best content we can for our clients. Advice: Get ready for rejection; keep pushing through the challenging times, and get ready to tighten your belt. There will be times when you won’t get paid simply because you have expenses and a team to pay. Noel and Waseem Ballou Founders of Foodeez

Home Equity Loan Getting Funded: I have owned and operated three food Businesses, Maui Wowi Smoothies and Coffee, Holiday Concessions, and Super Suppers. I used home equity loans to finance all of my ventures – albeit, not the best idea depending on the needs and situation of the borrower. Advice: A lesson learned is that I should have used equipment leasing programs for the Fixtures, Furniture and Equipment (FF&E). In the Super Suppers concept, we had hard times financially, and I couldn’t acquire loans because my loan-to-debt ratio was too high – home was maxed, and I had no equity – and I had to walk away. Another lesson was, however much you think something will cost, add twenty percent and double the time you think it will take. Always overestimate, be conservative, and don’t get caught short financially. Tom Scarda, CFE Founder of the Franchise Academy powered by FranChoice

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Self-Funded with Savings Getting Funded: We were self-funded through our savings. Advice: Start small and then scale using the money you accrue from your business. Make mistakes small so that scaling is as seamless as possible. Nicole Edelstein Founder and Chief Macaron Maker, Nicole Macaron

Local Town Fund + Home Equity Loan Getting Funded: We were able to raise money through the local town’s revolving fund and also by refinancing our house to pull out equity. Advice: Start small and lean. Don’t waste a lot of money on new fancy equipment or decor. We bought almost everything at auctions. Soft openings are great. They allow you to work out the kinks with people you know, who will be constructive with their feedback. Somehow, my wife and I, with zero restaurant experience have built a profitable restaurant, while other highly experienced and trained restaurateurs and chefs in the area have failed and closed their doors. Perhaps our naivete was a strength. Arif Khan Owner of Hoot Owl Restaurant Photo Credit: r3bel 80

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Success Story


Mark McDonald

Incorporates Culinary Tours as the Ultimate Guest Experience By: Chloe Friedman


entrepreneurial chef

Executive Chef, Mark


McDonald, of the award-

winning European-inspired restaurant, Old Vine Café

in Orange County, CA, has

tapped into hosting biannual culinary tours through

Italy. For nearly eight years,

McDonald has been running Splendors of Ancient Italy, providing guests of the

restaurant, amongst travelers and foodies, a chance to explore Italy’s history, culture, and cuisine. This unique opportunity allows not only supplemental income for McDonald, but also inspiration for seasonal café menus that are integrated after each tour.

cDonald is a graduate of the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy under the tutelage of Chef John Nocita, who is now a partner of the culinary tours. McDonald’s passion for Italian cuisine and culture are his motivation for providing the ultimate experience for his guests – activities such as artisan cannoli tastings, hands-on pasta workshops, and tours of several award-winning wineries. Over the years, the tours have grown to be more elaborate, traveling through Northern and Southern Italy. What started as a way to build stronger relationships with clientele has turned into a lucrative business. McDonald shares his culinary journey, how he launched the culinary tours and advice for others interested in pursuing this unique opportunity. entrepreneurial chef


& QA The


Mark McDonald

Where did your culinary career begin? At 13 years old, I acquired my first kitchen job as a dishwasher and prep cook, and I knew the kitchen was for me. I spent the next 14 years working in every position a restaurant has to offer, in both the front and back of the house. While working in restaurants, I spent years at local community colleges, and at a small private culinary school learning the basics. In 2006, I attended the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy where I completed a Master’s program studying under Chef John Nocita and his team. It was a life-changing experience and launched me into a life-long culinary education.

What is the significance of selecting Italian cuisine for the restaurant? While Old Vine Café is not strictly an Italian restaurant, we focus on a wide range of fusion in our cuisine, many of the techniques and fundamentals stem from my culinary education in Italy. Our pasta is made fresh in-house daily. Some of our dishes are traditional Italian, while others are a fusion of cuisines that I pick up along the way. Many dishes are inspired by my travels.

The tours are an extension of Old Vine Café. It is a way to build a stronger relationship with my clientele while offering an unforgettable gastronomic experience far from the restaurant. 84

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How soon after opening the restaurant did you begin the culinary tours? The itineraries were in my mind while living and studying in Italy. It was always part of my plan. In mid-2007, I opened Old Vine CafĂŠ, and in Spring of 2010, I led my first of many tours in Italy.

While the tours do create revenue, my motivation to lead them is driven by my love for Italy and its cuisine, culture, and history.


entrepreneurial chef

How do the tours influence your business? The tours are an extension of Old Vine CafĂŠ. It is a way to build a stronger relationship with my clientele while offering an unforgettable gastronomic experience far from the restaurant. Most of those who have traveled with me over the years have become close friends and some, family. While the tours do create revenue, my motivation to lead them is driven by my love for Italy and its cuisine, culture, and history.

Financially speaking, are the tours sustainable or scalable? The tours took time to build over the years and have graduated from sustainable to lucrative. Like any business, you need to build your reputation and gain the trust of your clients. Most of our first-time travelers return for a second tour, which is why we started doing two different tours per year. Now, the project is growing to the point that within the next several years, the income from the tours is expected to double.

Going in blind or not having established relationships like these can be detrimental to the quality of an experience. Currently, you offer tours to North & South Italy – any expansion plans? Splendors of South Italy is the original tour and remains the same as in the beginning. For two years, I led Splendors of North Italy, which were great tours. Now, instead of the northern tour, we offer Splendors of Ancient Italy, which explores more of the southern regions. Due to repeat traveler demand, the second tour will likely change every couple of years.

For anyone thinking of incorporating tours, what’s your advice for them? My partner in these tours is Chef John Nocita, founder of the Italian Culinary Institute (ICI) in Calabria, Italy. This partnership is essential to the success of our tours, as Chef John has been hosting groups of international students, corporate company retreats and leisure tours at ICI for over 20 years. The infrastructure is solid, including a fully licensed and insured transportation company that we have used for years. Also, ICI is located within a hotel perched on a bluff overlooking the Ionian Sea, so we have a built-in home base for lodging that is adjacent to the ICI kitchens and beautiful dining rooms. To successfully execute tours abroad, I would strongly advise a partnership with someone that is rooted in the area, and who can be trusted. All payments for our tours are made online through a secure payment system and go directly to ICI, which provides security for travelers. entrepreneurial chef


The tours took time to build over the years and have graduated from sustainable to lucrative. Like any business, you need to build your reputation and gain the trust of your clients. 88

entrepreneurial chef

Similar to above, what about cautions people should have before getting started with offering tours. After living in southern Italy while studying at ICI 13 years ago, I have been returning every year since. I know the regions that we tour, and we have made strong relationships with hotels and restaurants that we can count on year after year. Going in blind or not having established relationships like these can be detrimental to the quality of an experience. I would advise caution for anyone considering leading tours without having spent a lot of time in the regions and establishing relationships before bringing groups of their own.

What are your plans for the tours, restaurant, and business in general? I love Old Vine CafĂŠ and plan to continue running it for as long as possible while continuing to grow the tours. It has always been the dream and the plan. Photo Credit: Old Vine CafĂŠ

To successfully execute tours abroad, I would strongly advise a partnership with someone that is rooted in the area, and who can be trusted.

entrepreneurial chef




How Food Businesses

Can Measure ROI From Digital Marketing Campaigns By: Devin Baptiste


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the return on investment (ROI) for digital efforts is challenging for any industry. Most food businesses typically use digital marketing in the form of apps and rewards programs, focusing more on customer retention than new customer acquisition, making it near-impossible to figure out an ROI.

However, the marketing environment in the last few years has provided certain trackable alternatives for food businesses digitally. Online ordering has become huge, allowing customers to place their order via computer or mobile device before they ever set foot inside the physical location. This is providing a route toward traceable and beneficial digital marketing ventures. In 2017, over 35% of the industry’s global marketing revenue was spent on digital efforts, and that number is likely to go up. Since the food industry is embracing the digital marketing world, owners need to understand how much money their efforts are producing. Measuring return on investment is a vital piece of that puzzle, allowing businesses to gauge what is working and what is not.

ROI Metrics To measure your return on investment, it’s important to start with what metrics contribute to your overall profit. These metrics typically include: • • • •

Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) Lifetime Value (LTV) Campaign Revenue (CR) Return on Investment (ROI)

Cost-Per-Acquisition: Measure the CPA through a straightforward formula: What was spent divided by the number of conversions received. Here’s a simplified example: If a business spends $200 and gained ten conversions, then the cost per acquisition is $20. Lifetime Value: The lifetime value of a lead is determined by multiplying the average amount of a transaction, the frequency of purchases per year, and the expected years that you will retain this customer. entrepreneurial chef


Here’s an example: A customer comes to your business eight times per year and typically spends $100, and they come in for three years. You multiply 100 x 8 for a total of $800 from that customer per year. Then, you multiply 800 x 3 for a lifetime value of $2,400. Campaign Revenue: Determine the revenue generated by a digital marketing campaign by taking the total number of leads generated and multiplying that by the lifetime value. Then multiply that total by the closing ratio percentage to determine revenue. So, if 15 leads came in with a potential lifetime value of $2,400 and a closing ratio of 35%, you multiply $2,400 x 15 to get 36,000. Then you multiply 36,000 x .35 to get $12,600 in campaign revenue. Return on Investment: To determine the ROI, take the total campaign revenue and subtract it from total campaign cost. If your campaign drew in $12,600 and you spent $4,000 on the campaign in time, resources, and money, then your return on investment would be $8,600, or 53.48%. One of the most common digital platforms that generate ROI for many food businesses is social media.

Social Media Marketing The first step toward gauging social media ROI is setting measurable goals and understanding what percentage of your business is coming from it. It would be easy for a food business owner to say, “I’ve got 5,000 Facebook likes, my social media campaign is successful.” But that’s not necessarily true. Industry standards show that only 10% of social media followers will become customers, so quantity can be deceiving.


entrepreneurial chef

Redeemable printable coupons can be another trackable marketing campaign pushed out through social media. It also might be a good idea to give your customers some incentive to take a short survey that comes with their check. Something like, “Tell us where you heard about us and get a free beverage on your next visit.” This is something that your server can include in their opening greeting. Many food business owners have their wait staff ask tables, “Is this your first time dining with us tonight?” If the answer to that is yes, it’s easy to add, “Great, welcome! Where did you hear about us?” That’s all well and good for tracking ROI in the physical location, but it’s also important to track conversions digitally. By running the links that you’re sharing through a tracker and installing a tracking pixel on your website, you can monitor the activity of those who cross over from social media. This will help you see what kind of posts draw the most engagement, so that future marketing efforts can be more focused on tactics that are working.

A New World The food industry is changing. Customers are demanding a more seamless and integrated digital experience from their dining venues. By tracking your return on investment, you can ensure that your food business is spending money wisely and maximizing profits. Photo Credit: Photon Photo Devin Baptiste is the Founder/ CEO at GroupRaise.com, a social fundraising platform that encourages millennials to use their social connections and hunger to change the world by eating out at local restaurants in 50+ cities across 46 states.



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Profile for Rennew Media

Entrepreneurial Chef #26 - August 2018  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Aaron Sanchez: The Real Cost of Fame & Notoriety + Kirsten Helle: How to Launch & Grow a Li...

Entrepreneurial Chef #26 - August 2018  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Aaron Sanchez: The Real Cost of Fame & Notoriety + Kirsten Helle: How to Launch & Grow a Li...