Page 1

Entrepreneurial f The Premier Magazine For Food Entrepreneurs




The Dessert Business

February 2019 Issue 32

Full service at full speed. The point of sale that serves your business. Try us free for 30 days. Payment processing fees apply during your 30-day free trial.

Start your free trial

entrepreneurial chef

Š 2018 Square, Inc. Square, the Square logo, and Square for Restaurants are trademarks of Square, Inc.


Contents Features

41 Ksenia Penkina

The Dessert Business

19 Frankie Celenza

How He Carved His Niche On-Screen

61 Steve DiFillippo Building an Empire Fueled By Passion

entrepreneurial chef


Grow your business with Yelp Ads Push the button for free ads. No, seriously.

New, eligible advertisers only.

Š 2018 Yelp Inc. Yelp and related marks are registered trademarks of Yelp.

Contents Advice

10 3 Truths About Building a Personal Brand As a Chef

32 5 Techniques to Serve a High Volume of Guests

14 Mechanics of Assembling a Large Catering Event

36 Tools of the Trade with Melissa Santell



How Restaurants Can Prevent Sexual Harassment

The Inception Chef: Food Trends Begin with Innovators

28 Practical Ways to Use 10 Top Food Trends in Your Business

56 How to Make Your Restaurant More Sustainable

82 Entrepreneurial Overview: From “Idea” to “Open for Business” entrepreneurial chef


Learn more at

Business funding Business funding without the hassle. without the hassle. In the culinary industry, extra capital can

mean the difference between thriving In the culinary industry, extra capital can and just staying afloat. Kabbage helps mean the difference between thriving businesses access lines of credit of and just staying afloat. Kabbage helps up to $250,000 for whatever comes up. businesses access lines of credit of

Apply online andfor getwhatever a decision right up. away. up to $250,000 comes Withdraw funds when you need them Apply online and get a decision right away. without reapplying. Withdraw funds when you need them without reapplying.


Use Kabbage funds to: TA C K L E Y O U R B U S I E S T S E A S O N

Hire new to: UsePurchase Kabbage funds inventory


Purchase Upgrade inventory equipment

Hire new Improve employees your space

Upgrade equipment

Improve your space

© 2018 Kabbage, Inc. All rights reserved. Kabbage is a registered trademark of Kabbage, Inc., used under license. All Kabbage loans are issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC. Credit lines are subject to periodic review and change, including line reductions, line increases, or line eliminations. This is not a revolving account. Individual requests for capital are separate installment loans. © 2018 Kabbage, Inc. All rights reserved. Kabbage is a registered trademark of Kabbage, Inc., used under license.

entrepreneurial chef


Entrepreneurial f Che


February 2019 Volume 4 / Issue #32

Publisher Shawn Wenner Managing Editor Jenna Rimensnyder Contributing Editors Sinead Mulhern, Jennifer Marie Griffith Staff Writers Jay Michael, Marie Reynolds, Chloe Friedman Graphic Designer Rusdi Saleh Cover Ksenia Penkina Cover Photograph Courtesy of Ksenia Penkina Contributors Chris Hill, David Scott Peters, Deb Cantrell, Chef Wayne Elias, Megan Wenzl, Kayla Dusing, Dan Concepcion Special Thanks Ksenia Penkina, Melissa Santell, Steve DiFillippo, Frankie Celenza

Contact Us Entrepreneurial Chef 151 N. Maitland Ave #947511 Maitland, FL 32751 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. All Rights Reserved Š 2019 Entrepreneurial Chef Published by Rennew Media, LLC

entrepreneurial chef


Editor’s No Editor’s Note



t the start of every year, roughly 40% of people t the start of every year, roughly 40% of people officially make New Year’s resolutions, while the rest typically have s Year’s resolutions, while the rest typically have some particular goal in mind. Incredibly, only 8%by achieve the and focused. Penkina began her about journey wise woman once said that in mind. Incredibly, only about 8% achieve their resolutions and a staggering 92% and fail. Everything from starting learning about the craft, when she was “entrepreneurship is both a blessing staggering 92% fail. Everything from starting a business, getting in better managing stress better, there’s a myriad ready, sheshape, focused her attention into creating and a curse.” The blessing is doing in better managing stress better, an there’s adesire. myriad of lifestyle changes people online course. It was after experiencing the work shape, you love, and the curse people desire. success with course did shegoal slowly and is, well, doing the work you love. Meaning, For you, I’mher guessing a primary is one of two thing For you, I’m guessing a primary goal is one of two things; launch a business methodically began to expand. Despite her people tend to love many things, not just one, venture or grow one you’re currently running. Why else w grow one currently Why else would youresults, be reading Entrepreneurial Chef, right? That said, you truly eagerness to expedite and ifdesire to want to d and they venture have a or myriad of you’re business ideas running. Entrepreneurial Chef, right? said, if you want to dominate this year a truly food entrepreneur, I’d encourage you to focus have various ventures, Penkina wasaspatient and explicitl swirling around. Couple that with theThat freedom food to entrepreneur, I’d encourage focus and explicitly on your thoughts, feelings behaviors. as they say, your thoughts calculated – one step atBecause a time. to choose awhat work on and everythingyou to feelings and behaviors. Because they say, In your thoughts create your reality. gets worked on simultaneously. When as that issue, we connected with Chris Cosentino as o So, this as you think about the entrepreneurial this issue, we connected with Chris as our coverwho storygets and happens, theInamount of focus and attention heCosentino proved someone tune with their tho goals you’dthat like to accomplish, I’d in encourage heprogress proved that gets in tune with their thoughts, feelings and required for to besomeone made onwho any given behaviors can make massive positive both in their you to objectively evaluate how changes you are behaviors positive both in their life and career. And project diminish andcan themake cursemassive of “doing what changes Cosentino gives an extremely raw account of operating. Are you focused? Or are youhis journey Cosentino gives an extremely raw account of his that will no idea? doubtEssentially, you want, when you want,” appears. leave youjourney charge and constantly working oninspired. a new leavewith you eager chargefood and inspired. inside this issue, we curse? tackle upcoming trend are Additionally, you living the blessing or the Let’s It happens entrepreneurs inside this aissue, we tacklehope upcoming trends, branding, financial management, employee relations, and connect with various it’s not the latter. all the time. Additionally, They want to launch product, management, employee and connect various entrepreneurs who shed lightI hope onfood what made build a personal brand, open a brickrelations, and mortar Aswith always, you enjoythem the successful. latest issue who shed light on what made them successful. shop, become a brand ambassador and the list always, we fresh hope you enjoy the latest issue andAspull some ideas, inspiration, and and pick u goes on. However, while attempting to do it As always, we hope you enjoy the latest issue andadvice. pick up some fresh ideas, inspiration, and actionable advice. actionable all, nothinginspiration, ever gets done. The key isadvice. focusing and actionable one’s energy and efforts on a single project Cheers, Cheers, or venture, especially in the beginning, and Cheers, growing from there. That said, in this issue, we connected with Ksenia Penkina as our cover story, and she exemplifies what it means to remain disciplined

entrepreneurial chef 9 entrepreneurial chef 9

Personal Brand


3 Truths

About Building a Personal Brand As

a Chef By: Chris Hill


entrepreneurial chef


When you think about the insanely popular chefs and the personal brands they’ve been able to build over time, it’s almost impossible to think of when such individuals were mere humans just like you and me – back when no one seemed to care about what they had to say, either. They were putting their work out there and were trying to make a name for themselves in different ways, and at some point, each of these individuals hit a tipping point, changing the course of their history forever. But, and it’s no truer than in the culinary world, everyone starts at the same place – let’s call that lonely place ground zero – and from there, over time, if an individual is intentional and strategic, we will begin to see something special blossom.

In many cases, right before our eyes, we’re eyewitnesses to brand creation – we see something emerge from such individuals who create exposure and opportunities for themselves that most of us have a hard time even dreaming of. The truth is though, there is only one thing standing in the way of you creating your own big-time personal brand – you. Here are three keys to help you build the personal brand of our dreams.

One Big (Or Little) Idea When you look at the landscape of popular chefs, it’s pretty clear that there aren’t a whole lot of chefs that appeal to the entire market. Bourdain might have been an exception to this, and I’d put Gordon Ramsay in this category as well – these are once or twice in a generation type of personalities. If you do a good job of looking at the remaining group of well-known successful chefs you can see and identify something particular they are known for; a type of cuisine, a region, a style or a perspective. Takeaway: The question is, when someone thinks of you – what idea or words come to mind? The narrower the niche, the greater the possibility you have of making a splash in it. entrepreneurial chef


Connection & Networking We’re all a lot stronger as a group than we are as individuals – whether that’s in the kitchen or with friends and family. It’s also true in online spaces. Metcalfe’s Law states (and I’m simplifying it here): the power of a network is proportional to the number of nodes connected to it. Additionally, the stronger and more frequently those nodes are in connection, the more powerful the network becomes. So, maybe you only have a few nodes in your network right now, but use those (in a healthy way) to create more nodes, then stronger nodes. You can achieve this through investing in people within your local community, investing in people in an online community or by creating a platform such as a podcast or a blog, or even your own community. Takeaway: Great brands like TrueCooks and Spiceology were able to create substantial followings by enlisting people and influencers in their communities that could help carry the brand forward. In other words, you don’t have to do it on your own.

Scaling the Unscalable

stopping with the chef and/or owner. Otherwise, they’d have to be in the building every moment of every day. Building a personal brand using social media, however, is the exact opposite of that. It is by definition unscalable (at least if you want to create one with staying power) because social media is predicated on one thing; relationships – one to one interactions. So, one of the best ways to get people to notice you and to care about you online is to care about them, first. Reach out and respond to every single comment and mention. If you let the people following you know that you appreciate them, they’ll continue to appreciate you in return. This strategy takes time and patience, but it is an essential ingredient in building and maintaining a personal brand in the culinary world. Takeaway: A phenomenal example of this is chef Richard Blais. Over the last year, he made a promise to himself and his community that he’d be more engaging and interactive with them – he has done just that. This kind of commitment takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a lot of patience, however, the results undoubtedly speak for themselves. Blais has a rabid following that always seems to be hungry for more.

A kitchen’s survival is dependent on systems that allow for the operation to scale. Systems keep normal operations from starting and

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. 12

entrepreneurial chef


Add diet and allergen tags, calories and nutrient data to your recipes and menus. Sign up now for the Nutrition Wizard Pro with promo code to receive 20% discount. This is less than $20 a month for unlimited number of recipes.

1. Go to: 2. Select Wizard Pro 3. Enter promo code on payment page


Mechanics of Assembling

a Large Catering Event By: Chef Wayne Elias


entrepreneurial chef



f catering large events were

easy, everyone would be doing it. The work is strenuous, the planning is meticulous, and more often than not, you’ll be putting out small fires throughout the entire event – hopefully metaphorically and not literally. If you are planning on launching

Foundation for Success Organization: I’m a stickler for detail and making sure that everything is as perfect as possible before the guests arrive. Make sure your team is on the same page and follow a strict schedule to make things as smooth as possible on what could be a chaotic day.

a catering company, or already own one and are looking to tap into the market of large events, you need to do some research and be completely confident in your team’s ability to pull something this grandiose off. After reflecting on my 15 years of experience in catering large events, and 40 years in the industry overall, I’ve assembled a list of fundamental keys for success, outlining common misconceptions and advice for those who are looking to tap into the market.

Logistics: How much food do you need to feed X number of guests? When will you need to prep the food? How are you storing and transporting? Where is the commissary kitchen? Travel time to event space? Do you have enough team members? Think ahead: Consider what could go wrong and how you’ll troubleshoot. Has anything happened in the past that caught you offguard? Do everything in your power to avoid it and have your staff on high alert. Communication: Can’t stress this enough, before the planning process begins, it is important to be on the same page with your client. Draw up a contract, understand what is needed from you so you can perform at the highest level while meeting all expectations. After you understand what your job is, every detail from the menu to presentation to the timing of the event, this needs to be relayed to your team ensuring complete clarity for your 50+ team members. entrepreneurial chef


Common Misconceptions


Overconfident: The biggest shortcoming is when people think, “Oh, we got this.” What I have realized is no matter how many guests, whether it be 50 or 500, I look at it as if it is my first time, every time. I do not let my guard down or relax because anything could go wrong. I’ve learned firsthand what might have gone wrong in the past and don’t let it repeat itself. Always keep yourself confident and nervously excited – nothing should be too relaxed or calm.

Heavy focus on the logistics: I’m not just talking about the bottom line, people who want to jump into catering large events are wowed by the figures – but you’re working for every penny. Before you commit, you must ask yourself, “How am I really going to do it? Am I capable of this amount of work?” Don’t set the cart before the horse. Before you take the jump from small to large events, understand that you are catering someone’s event that is their livelihood and they want it to be perfect. The stakes are high, but the payoff is well worth the stress.

Detail-oriented: When I’m running a big team of 60 cooks, I’m evaluating every aspect once we’re on location. I became as good as I am and running events this smoothly because I’ve cared about them from the very beginning.

Chef Wayne Elias has owned Rockwell Table and Stage Restaurants for the past eight years. Prior to this, he owned Marks Restaurant on La Cienega Blvd for 15 years. He also owns Crumble Catering Company which provided Food Service and Catering for the NBC Studio Burbank Commissary and the Deluxe Labs Studio Lot Commissary. Wayne has been providing creative food and seasonal food for over 14 years for the Elton John Aids Foundation Oscar Party as well as events and premieres for such studios as Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal, Summitt Films, Lions Gate. He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design in the Culinary School and has traveled the world and learned many different styles of cuisine and tastes. 16

entrepreneurial chef


Success Story


Frankie Celenza Carved His

Niche On-Screen By: Jenna Rimensnyder


entrepreneurial chef


mmy award-winning cooking show host, chef and producer, Frankie Celenza, began his career in 2009 by shooting a web series with the ingenious idea to merge his passion for music with his love of Italian cuisine. Over the last decade, Celenza has built his career teaching the culinary history of dishes, while empowering his viewers to be bold and innovative in the kitchen by experimenting with new flavors. After the growing popularity of his Emmy® award-winning series, Frankie Cooks, the young chef was approached by Tastemade and has since become a key player in the video network’s success hosting original series including Struggle Meals, Frankie’s World, Savor Chicago as well as countless recipe tutorials.

When he’s not on-screen, Celenza shares his culinary talent as a private chef and as a consultant for consumer brands and food delivery services. His skill has awarded him an invitation to The White House to create recipes using The First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden and the opportunity to cook for Novak Djokovic and his team during the 2016 U.S. Open Championship. The charismatic chef shares how he found his niche in the food industry, the key to his evolution as a host, and the importance of mastering various roles both in front of and behind the camera.

entrepreneurial chef


I’ve also realized that the How did you get started with your web series in the first place? When I made my first segment in January 2009, young people weren’t on the wave of creating cooking shows yet. My logic was that if a teen or early twenty-something was interested in cooking, they’d most likely want to learn from someone their own age. At the time I was studying music, so the integration of music was partially because of my studies, but also to address the fact that cooking shows can only touch the visual and aural senses while missing taste, smell and texture. With that in mind, I hired my younger brother, Luke, to compose to my edits of cooking on my series, Frankie Cooks. Luke would compose pieces to accompany edits of me cooking, which we found accentuated what I was doing and 20

entrepreneurial chef

audience will both praise

and criticize me no matter what. Better to just move forward than worry, but that’s easier said than done.

simultaneously helped the viewer fall deeper into the content. His work on the show won back to back New York Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Musical Composition. It’s shocking that ten years later, producers still use random tracks as the underlying music rather than investing in making a more cohesive, unique video product.

How have you evolved over the years? Although my early videos are actually pretty informative, I do seem a little angry, which may have been due to anxiety. So the greatest evolution was finding the ability to relax in front of the camera. With practice comes confidence; I’ve become more myself and less worried about what people will think. I’ve also realized that the audience will both praise and criticize me no matter what. Better to just move forward than worry, but that’s easier said than done.

How was that relationship formed with Tastemade?

They approached me, ads were turned on, and nothing happened other than that for a few years. In the meantime, I continued Frankie Cooks. As it became more popular, Tastemade eventually circled back to me with a proposal for a show which we shot but never aired. About six months later they invited me to California to shoot some recipe cards in their studio. The synergy between myself and their crew was fantastic – which may be due to working on my own for so long that when the time came to work with a team, communication and respect for everyone’s job was present from the beginning. The relationship swelled from there. As more technology and video platforms were introduced into the cooking/food space, I realized what it was to have such a tech-savvy, trailblazing partner.

Tastemade launched as a multichannel network on YouTube, essentially like a record company for cooking channels on the platform.

The greatest evolution was finding the ability to relax in front of the camera. With practice comes confidence; I’ve become more myself and less worried about what people will think. 22

entrepreneurial chef

The most important thing is to learn how to video edit yourself. You’ll never understand how to be better on camera unless you are watching a playback in the edit booth, cursing yourself out for breaking eye contact on the last word of a sentence, or flubbing a word and not repeating.

entrepreneurial chef


Everyone is unique, and there are so many people on this planet that I’m convinced that there’s an audience for everyone. Your voice will be heard if you truly want it to.

What are some key practices for those trying to stand out with their own videos/ tutorials? The most important thing is to learn how to video edit yourself. You’ll never understand how to be better on camera unless you are watching a playback in the edit booth, cursing yourself out for breaking eye contact on the last word of a sentence, or flubbing a word and not repeating. Editors can tell you how to improve, but it won’t register without understanding the process from start to finish. Another piece of advice is to bang out ten videos over the course of two months. The learning curve is steep in the beginning and quantity helps enormously, don’t do one video and call it a day – the second one is even more important. After you incorporate these methods, the next step is to be yourself. Everyone is unique, and there are so many people on this planet that I’m convinced that there’s an audience for everyone. Your voice will be heard if you truly want it to.

What would you say are some best practices in front of the camera? After being your own editor, other best practices include being happy, explaining every fact or anecdote you have about every step, pausing occasionally so there’s a cut point, and being yourself. The true shape of your video takes place during editing, but that shape can only be fantastic if there’s a lot of wonderful material to work with. It’s no different than making a dish; if you have a lot of ingredients to choose from, the probability of you creating something incredible is higher than starting with very few ingredients. Everything is parallel. 24

entrepreneurial chef

The true shape of your video takes place during editing, but that shape can only be fantastic if there’s a lot of wonderful material to work with. How much importance do you place on your Instagram presence to help build your brand? Instagram is my favorite social tool, but I try to find a balance between being present on that platform and living my life. You have to have a social media presence, or else you don’t exist, but keep in mind, if your every move is on there, your followers will become bored and you’ll lose them.

What are some of the obstacles in this industry that you’ve been faced with? How have you overcome them? So many obstacles. Nobody wants to help you until everyone wants to help you. In other words, you have to work every role until a team begins to form, which could be years. I’ve dealt with a 99% rejection rate for years in meetings, phone calls and asks. One day the switch flipped in my favor, which was a result of never letting up. The answer to each obstacle is to push through. Perseverance and determination go a very long way. They are key factors in any field of work. entrepreneurial chef


You have to have a social media presence, or else you don’t exist, but keep in mind, if your every move is on there, your followers will become bored and you’ll lose them.

Anything that food entrepreneurs should be wary of when venturing out on their own? Explore as many aspects of the industry to learn as much as possible, and then don’t be afraid to follow your gut. I’ve worked the line, continue to work as a personal cook for a few families, I work on-screen and consult with brands and food delivery services. What I’m finding is that being on-screen has a wonderful crossover to the hospitality industry, and the synergy between the two is becoming greater in my career. The job you think you’re made for may not exist in a decade or two – so be nimble, keep your finger on the pulse and move around to stay alive. No matter what path you take, when you look back you’ll realize, “oh, that’s life; literally all my failures and successes are part of the human experience.” Photo Credit: Oresti Tsonopoulos


entrepreneurial chef

You have the idea, now what? BRANDING IP MANAGEMENT SUPPLIER AGREEMENTS DISTRIBUTOR FOOD LABELLING COMPLIANCE Cohn Legal Group is a specialty branch of a larger law firm with a robust presence and expertise in the food space. Our food lawyers work with high-growth, innovative consumer products startups in the food space. We take great pride in our ability to provide a comprehensive plan and structure to work through these issues and keep our clients appraised of all relevant action points as they arise. · · 216-912-6760 © 2018 Cohn Legal Group



Practical Ways to Use

10 Top Food Trends in Your Business By: Deb Cantrell


entrepreneurial chef


ood trends do you follow them?

I never used to give them

I did the homework for you and discovered the top 10 food trends of 2019. Here are some practical applications for each so that your business stays fresh in the new year: 1. P  acific Rim Flavors – Flavors from Asia, Oceania, and North and South America will start showing up such as Filipino pork sausage, dried shrimp, and tropical fruits.

much thought because I was always too focused on just making it through the day. You know, the days where your dishwasher doesn’t show up or your line cooks are 30 minutes late. I also used to think they were simply just “trends” and thought if I could prepare amazing scratch food for my personal chef clients – using the freshest ingredients and creative preparations – that’s all I needed. Wrong. With food becoming more and more competitive, I started to realize that I should pay closer attention to what kind of food consumers are wanting since this can change. I learned that I could actually increase my bottom line as a business owner if I incorporated some of these trends into my services because it would help me stay relevant and keep my customers happy.

 ractical Application – As chefs, this P might mean infusing Pacific Rim flavors into your menu. Some examples might be using jackfruit as a meat substitute, passionfruit in sparkling water or even guava in vinaigrettes. This shows that you are current with food trends to savvy, more educated consumers. The more innovative and different you can be, the better.

2. S  helf Stable Probiotics – No longer is it just for kimchi. Fermentation has been all the rage for the last several years, but now they are putting this in pantry staples like granola, oatmeal, and even nut butter.

 ractical Application – Would it make P sense to start offering fermented versions of your food products/dishes? Would some of your clients be drawn to the health benefits it offers? Of course, you have to do what makes sense for your brand but if it fits with your company’s values go for it! Fermented foods are going mainstream.

3. F  ats Are Back – With all the rage of the latest diets such as Keto, Paleo and Grainfree, this is just in time. The front-runners are ghee, coconut oil and MCT oil. I was at a restaurant in Austin, Texas a few weeks ago and had the most amazing mocha with MCT added in. These fats are being incorporated into snack bars, yogurts and even meatbased snacks such as pork cracklings. entrepreneurial chef


 Practical application – Can you start emphasizing the healthy fats in your foods and the benefits that come from it? If you’re a personal, private chef or caterer, do you know how to cook according to the Keto, Paleo or grain-free diets? Now might be a good time to brush up on some new dishes. 4. H  emp Is Huge – Imagine that. Technically, CBD oil is not legal in all 50 states but companies have a found a way around this. Look for hemp-derived products of all kinds in 2019.

 ractical Application – This trend might not P be practical or even desirable for everyone, so you’ll have to make this decision personally for your company.

5. F  ake Meat Snacks – Plant-based food has come to the snack aisle in the form of imitation beef jerky and pork rinds. I’ll leave that right there. Mushrooms are also part of this category, and manufacturers are adding all kinds of flavors to offer as a healthy snack. As a whole in 2019, you will see mushrooms used more and more versatilely.  Practical Application – If you serve vegan or vegetarian clientele, this will be an obvious trend you’ll want to start incorporating. Are there more creative ways you can use mushrooms in your dishes? What other veggies can you use as meat substitutes to satisfy someone’s meat craving? I know when jackfruit is shredded and flavored just right, it’s used as a substitute for shredded pork in tacos. Can you offer a plant-based version of a food product or dish you offer to accommodate another group of eaters? 30

entrepreneurial chef

6.  Eco-Conscious Packaging – More cities are banning plastic of any kind to include straws. Be on the lookout for beeswax food wraps, silicone storage containers and other packaging such as take-out containers to get on the bandwagon.  Practical Application – When was the last time you took a thoughtful look at your packaging? Could it be more eco-friendly? Could you use fewer materials? Better catering dishes? People care about these things. Announcing that you are changing your packaging to be more eco-friendly will cause your ideal customers to look at your company in a new light, and it also goes right along with “empowered food” that is coming in 2019. Did you ever think you might be losing customers to the packaging you use? Gone are the days of Styrofoam containers. 7.  Frozen Treats – Whoever thought you could make ice cream better? We will start to see new bases of avocado, tahini, and coconut water. If you want to consume more than just non-dairy ice cream, then you will love the Thai-rolled ice cream that is coming, Taiwanese snow ice, and even stretchy Turkish ice creams — saving the best for last. Watch all the boozy popsicles and gelatos that are coming too.

Practical Application – This trend might not apply to your culinary business at all, but perhaps you can team up with a local business that does do frozen treats and collab on a menu. If you’re a personal, private chef or caterer, maybe you can start adding frozen treats in your dessert line up in the spring/summer. Or if you already offer frozen treats like artisan pops, now you know what kind of bases and add-ins people are looking for.

8. S  eaweeds – Seaweed snacks are old school. Now, this amazing marine plant is making its way into butter and don’t forget about kelp noodles, puffy water lily seed snacks and snackable salmon skins. Look out for the kelp jerky coming next.  Practical application – Can you start incorporating more seaweed into salads and other dishes you wouldn’t expect or even taste it in like smoothies? 9.  Snacks 2.0 – It seems we will be talking about snacks a great deal this coming year as well as all things plant-based – which would seem to be a huge focus of food trends in 2019. There will be more gourmet versions of cheese and cracker packs for lunches.

Practical application – If you aren’t already offering them, now would be a great time. If you’re a personal or private chef, can you upsell your current clients to a few snacks a day or offer a line of just snacks if you sell food products? Can your current food products be used in a snack? Start recipe developing and show people how to use it in their snacking.

10. Empowered food – Consumers more than ever will want to know who is making their

food, where it is made and what it is made with. Consumers are seeking out veteranowned, women-owned, and businesses that serve disadvantaged populations.

Practical application – If you have special team members (such as veterans), let people know about it. Do some social media posts introducing your team members or some short videos of your team members. People can relate to other humans and love when they see certain populations being supported by your company.

The bottom line is giving your food an update in 2019 by incorporating what trends make sense for your company and clientele. Not every single trend is worth doing if it doesn’t alight with your company values, doesn’t fit with what you already offer or isn’t something your current customers would enjoy. If anything, I hope this got your wheels turning so you can stay ahead of the power curve and offer some fresh takes on food this year!

Chef Deb Cantrell 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. entrepreneurial chef




5 Techniques to Serve a High Volume of Guests By: Dan Concepcion


entrepreneurial chef


hen transitioning from the average number of tables at a restaurant to serving

upwards of 1,200 guests on a daily basis, you not only need to be aware of how to mass

produce a perfected recipe,

but also how to enhance the guest experience to avoid

letting them get drowned out in the crowd. Whether you are catering an event, or running a kitchen for a campus, there are a variety of aspects to take into consideration. Here are the keys mastering the technique of preparing foods to be flavorful and unique, all while serving a high volume of guests.

Unique Ways to Enhance the Guest Experience Steer clear of processed or frozen foods as much as possible, cooking fresh is the most important thing when enhancing the guest experience. Personally, we make our stocks, soups, marinades and spice blends in-house - placing importance on taking that step to produce a not only a healthier option, but also a more flavorful experience for guests. To keep things interesting, we have interactive pop-up restaurants and themed days that we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from by our guests. We have our steakhouse popup, Corte, in which all steaks are grilled to order, and although we have about 300-400 people to serve, not a single piece of meat is cooked ahead of time.

Creating Flavor Profiles Accommodating a high volume of people can be a difficult feat, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. By cooking various elements in layers can ensure the dish has a lot of depth. For instance, I’ll have five or six types of chilis for a salsa prepared in a variety of ways. I may have a roasted jalapeño along with some blistered and grilled to incorporate smokiness. I try to make sure it has some heat to it without being overpowering - by layering the food and using different techniques, you are able to accommodate the population of varying palates. entrepreneurial chef


Be Agile Gone are the days of chef screaming and yelling at your kitchen staff, the culture has transformed. It is important to be a leader in the kitchen and have your team share your values and vision. I think being centric and agile in the kitchen can assist in accommodating not only your guests, but also guide your team.

Never Forget to Add Your Personal Touch I absolutely believe in not letting your style get lost no matter the number of guests. Personally, I’m known for my intensity of flavors - not over seasoning - but staying true to flavor profiles and beefing them up. I want my flavors and dishes to be on the same playing field as fine dining restaurants.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes When a chef is making a sauce for 300, it is not the same for 3000. A common oversight can be improper scaling of the seasoning. A chef that is serving a high volume of guests is to understand mathematics and how to multiply, convert and scale their recipes accordingly. Secondly, tasting each element of a dish is pivotal. Make rounds to each chef in the kitchen to evaluate the sauces. When people think of hospital food, they think tasteless - which can happen if you are attempting to recreate a dish that is meant for ten people for 100. The depth in the flavors can easily be lost if you aren’t monitoring and tasting the product. 34

entrepreneurial chef

Dan Concepcion is the Executive Chef for Table 29 at Sam’s Club, where him and his team serve over 1,200 customers on a daily basis. The chef rebranded the restaurant shortly after joining the company and is working to change the way you dine corporately. He’s also developing new products sold under the T29 brand and his name, including a recently launched spice blend.

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 to start your project today!

75% of food projects FAIL on most crowdfunding sites…

until now!

“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.”

PieShell PieShell ThePieShell

Erika Kerekes PieSheller + Founder of Not Ketchup


Tools of the Trade with Melissa Santell

Named one of Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 30 under 30, Melissa Santell has a taste for bringing ideas to life – in the kitchen and at the office. Marketing for major brands including Neuman’s Kitchen, Welch’s and Impossible Foods has allowed Santell to flex her creative muscles while developing strategies, generating food content and managing restaurant social media channels. The savvy entrepreneur is a self-taught chef, restaurant marketing consultant, photographer and blogger at When she’s not writing about culinary experiences, you can find her creating recipes for brand partners or eating her way through the closest dessert menu.


entrepreneurial chef

All-Clad Immersion Blender This blender wears a lot of hats in my kitchen. Like the rest of the world, I use it to blend my way through silky butternut squash soups, but it can do so much more than that! It’s also lightweight, compact and ultra-powerful, making it easy to store and convenient to use.

Joule Sous Vide by Chef Steps If you like velvety, tender lamb shank, you’re going to love the Joule Sous Vide. This tool is wildly easy to use and takes all of the guesswork out of cook times and temperatures. To use it, all you need to do is download the Joule app on your phone, select the ingredient you’re cooking, along with desired ‘doneness’ and let the tool work its magic.

Pre-Cut Parchment Sheets Time is the most valuable thing in the world. And I don’t know about you, but when I see an opportunity to save it, I take it. Pre-cut parchment sheets make baking a breeze and clean-up even easier. Air hug to the human who dreamt these up. entrepreneurial chef


Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more satisfying than an imperfect flake of salt melting on my tongue. It’s the secret weapon to a finished plate that says “I love you,” with a little extra zing. You’ll find it kissing the tops of warm chocolate chip cookies in my kitchen.

Fujifilm X-T2

If you didn’t take a picture, did it even happen? The Fuji Film X-T2 is my sidekick in the kitchen. It allows me to document the cooking process from start to finish, without sparing a single highresolution detail. My blog and restaurant clients are thankful for it too!


entrepreneurial chef

Lodge Cast Iron 12” Skillet How magical is it that this pan doesn’t need to be washed and creates layers of flavor? I love spoiling my skillet with tons of gluten-free cornbread, frittatas packed with leftovers and lately, it’s my favorite tool to reverse-sear steak on. Call it the Golden Retriever of kitchen tools – trustworthy, loyal and fun to own.

Le Creuset Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt.

Where there’s a shared pot of Coq au Vin, there must be love too. More than any other tool I have, the Le Creuset Dutch Oven makes slow-cooked masterpieces tangible and approachable. I won my first Dutch oven on a Food52 giveaway, and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received!

Farm Fresh Eggs

San Marzano Tomatoes

I know what you’re thinking, canned tomatoes? But did you know San Marzano tomatoes are strategically and strictly grown in volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius? If that wasn’t enough to deem them special, they’re luscious, sweet and have less acidity than your average tomato. I always have at least two cans in my pantry!

Knowing exactly where my food comes from makes me appreciate it a million times more. I love visiting local farms to score a fresh dozen of freshly laid eggs (and petting the chickens to show gratitude whenever possible). The quality of farm fresh eggs always makes my cakes taste better and my life a little richer. It’s the little things.

New York Times: What to Cook This Week Newsletter There’s nothing like weekly inspiration that lands in your inbox, especially when it’s from the New York Times – aka the culinary bible of our time. Their weekly newsletter is a welcomed reminder of what the cookery world is capable of. Needless to say, I always eat it up.

entrepreneurial chef


Cover Story

Ksenia Penkina:

The Dessert Business By: Shawn Wenner


entrepreneurial chef



nown as the “Glazing Queen,” Ksenia Penkina’s artistic

style, creative flair, and illustrative creations have been shared and admired around the world. Between her online and hands-on classes, brand collaborations, and new Haute [ōt] Online Pastry Shop, Penkina has methodically carved an entrepreneurial niche centered around her two passions – business and pastries.

After receiving her degree in Switzerland, Penkina continued to develop her passion and knowledge by learning from the most respected pastry chefs and schools across the globe. Knowing she ultimately wanted to build a brand, Penkina focused heavily on

social media to build her proverbial tribe. Now, her star power online, and much deserved respect in the pastry community, has led to collaborations with companies like Silikomart, invites to teach master classes at various schools, her online and hands-on classes, and a massive social presence that drives her entrepreneurial pursuits. Fascinated by the chemistry of pastry, and a process of product integration, Penkina developed a signature brand of Haute [ōt] Food Colors, featuring a full range of both water soluble and oil soluble colors. From there, Penkina took her product line a step further by launching Haute [ōt] Online Pastry Shop that presents her Haute [ōt] Food Colors, premium & unique ingredients, cake silicone molds, and equipment for the professional and home kitchen. In our interview, Penkina shares the interesting story of how her food journey began, how she’s been able to methodically build her brand, some tips for standing out online, and the value of going all-in with your passion. entrepreneurial chef


& QA The


Ksenia Penkina

What business activities are you involved with currently? I’m involved with various projects, and it makes my work interesting, surprising and keeps me learning and developing. I began selling cakes, and now I have a teaching practice –maybe one day I will invest in a bakery with a pastry team. When I was selling cakes, I began filming the online classes – an idea that came from my followers. I’m always listening to feedback from people who follow my page, and when suggestions and comments begin to repeat, I pay attention and take action. That’s how I began online classes, followed by hands-on classes, projects with Silikomart, an online pastry shop, and the production of my signature Food Colors Haute [ōt] – a project I’m most proud of.


entrepreneurial chef

Where did your entrepreneurial spark come from? Patisserie is my passion; from the creativity to the art and learning aspect, but for me, business is on a whole other level. I came to pastry arts through my passion for business, which is rare because usually, the story begins with desserts or a chef. I grew up very business oriented – passionate about building connections, seeing possibilities, acting without fear and analyzing people’s behavior to predict their actions. Since 14 years old, I have been creating artistically and finding ways to build a business. From painting to photography, writing, decorating clothes, and more, until I ended up baking. Now, combining those two – business and desserts – makes me happy. I’m strict and precise on the business side and at the same time fun and loving on the artistic side.

entrepreneurial chef


What led to you focusing on being an entrepreneur in the world of desserts? There were two big projects, not connected to the pastry world, but they brought me to my pastry journey – being a TV host and nail artist. As a host, I had fun, until I realized I was working for free. After a couple of years, I got into drawing and nail art. It became profitable work with a lot of attention – I was using social networks that time – but even though I had great income, I didn’t feel like I belonged or proud of the work. After analyzing those projects, I came up with three main points that would make me a happy businesswoman; something I create with my hands, something profitable, and something I’m proud of and makes a difference. It was my sister who suggested entremets and pastry, and not only did I love the idea, I felt good about it. I could see if I worked hard, my three points could be achieved. Since then, I had many sleepless nights, tiring days of studying and lots of work, but it was a joy to finally achieve what I dreamed.


entrepreneurial chef

Patisserie is my passion; from the creativity to the art and learning aspect, but for me, business is on a whole other level. From where you began until today, what’s been the hardest part of the journey? The lack of time. When I began, I had a full-time job, and I was trying to put my full attention into baking and studying. There was not enough sleep, but the excitement and success I was feeling blocked those tired moments. When you begin to see results, get attention for your creations, see the interest in people’s eyes, and have self-made income, nothing can be more satisfying. I was tired but very happy. Since then, there are no real challenges that affect me like at the beginning with the lack of time.

Start, Grow & Monetize Your Food Blog

foodbloggerpro.comentrepreneurial chef


At what point did you begin experiencing higher levels of success? Releasing my first online class was a big moment because it brought me financial stability. So, I began to develop that strategy by filming more classes. About six months after the first course, I began offering hands-on classes. It was a whole new world where I communicated with my students in person – quite easy on the organizational side because things were taken care of by the school that invited me. At that moment, I began working harder on my teaching style, recipes, and program to make sure I presented my knowledge in the best possible way for my students. When my business team grew, I was able to organize classes in Vancouver, Canada. Now, students come from all over the world for a class – it’s a successful project. Then, collaborating with Silikomart on molds, GEMMA, and MINI GEMMA, gave me a whole new level of opportunities and established “my place” in the pastry world. They became one of the most popular molds of 2018.


entrepreneurial chef

[Finally], deciding to have my own coloring brand was a big journey – trying to find a manufacturer, create a unique concept, and work on logistics. The online shop began profitably and has since grown in popularity. The project is important to me personally because I feel we have created something for the pastry community around the world.

What would you say was a contributing factor to some of the successes you’ve mentioned? Easy; it was Instagram and my social network followers. It made my work visible and all those points possible.

I’m always listening to feedback from people who follow my page, and when suggestions and comments begin to repeat, I pay attention and take action.

What has contributed to building your influence on social media? Any particular strategies or was it simply organic? I am following a “simply organic strategy” [laughs]. I’m highly focused on the content of my pages by analyzing what people would like to see. When I understand the needs of my followers, I present what they value most, and that attracts more visitors at the same time. If you have one dessert in a bakery that never sells, it’s logical to remove it from the menu. I do the same with my pictures, text, and content on social networks. I work to understand “what, when and how” I should or should not post. It’s simple marketing, and a lot of hard work, but this is what every business needs to be successful.

I made sure to build my Instagram in the beginning as a platform to promote the projects that I would create. Nowadays, bakers must not only create unique texture, flavor, and balance in their dessert but also design something that’s attractive to the eye and impresses online viewers. Many people are still trying to go against it, and don’t see the value of good content, and unfortunately, this is today’s world. You either go with the flow, learn new skills and develop, or you are going backward. entrepreneurial chef


With your online courses, did you have instant success or was there a level of marketing/selling needed to get students? The moment I released the first online class, I had followers waiting to purchase. At that time, my Instagram page was filled with beautiful pictures of cakes and people were asking to learn. The success was instant because the project was needed even before I started planning. It was just a couple of years ago, but back then online classes were not yet popular as they are today. Especially in the baking industry, a course dedicated to entremets and beautiful glazing was unique and one of a kind. Nowadays, I see those classes everywhere, but thankfully mine are still in demand.

How has social media contributed to your success from a business standpoint? I have never paid for any advertising; everything comes from my social media pictures and videos. People find me online, get interested in my work and content, and buy one of my online classes. By using tags like #Vancouver, people from my city find my work, and that fills my hands-on classes. By getting reposted by various pages, many schools and brands worldwide see my work and invite me to teach or collaborate. Social media is one hundred percent my one and only tool. I get scared sometimes thinking that one-day social networks will disappear or go out of style. On the other hand, I follow trends and look to the future, so if there is any hint of a new communication tool, I will be there to recognize and apply it in my business. 48

entrepreneurial chef

The moment I released the first online class, I had followers waiting to purchase. At that time, my Instagram page was filled with beautiful pictures of cakes and people were asking to learn.

I follow trends and look to the future, so if there is any hint of a new communication tool, I will be there to recognize and apply it in my business. entrepreneurial chef


Many chefs or food entrepreneurs want to create courses to teach others, so can you share how you created yours? I never had money to start any of my projects, and I have always learned to create something out of nothing. That is why handmade was always my thing – no investment needed. I had an old iPhone, a couple of molds, ingredients, and knowledge to share in videos. I went to the window for the best light, taped my iPhone to a chair and started filming. It was hard but possible. One of my hobbies was editing, so I took the time to edit all my videos, record the sound, insert text and add music. You can still see those classes on my website with great reviews from students. Even today, with a crazy amount of online classes filmed by professionals, my classes stay in demand. I believe it’s more about [someone’s] persona. If a chef is in demand, then their classes are in demand. 50

entrepreneurial chef

I have never paid for any advertising; everything comes from my social media pictures and videos. People find me online, get interested in my work and content, and buy one of my online classes. For those wanting to create online courses as a means to monetize their talents and teach others, what’s your advice for them? I would advise to not care much about filming, but about the content and your audience. If you have a community – on Instagram, by email, or other channels – and those people love your work, they will accept any video quality if you provide content that interests them. You just need a phone, window light, tape, and to center your camera placement. All of this is free and accessible. If you have a chance to hire a professional team, that is even more amazing, but no matter how you film, make sure your audience is interested and you provide knowledge that impresses. Do not be afraid to work with limited resources.

You have an Instagram account dedicated to your students’ work, which is brilliant, so what was the thought process behind this from a business standpoint? It does look magical having a whole account dedicated to my students, and I do love following their success, but looking from the business side, it helps promote my master classes. In the past, I posted my students’ work in my Instagram stories, showing how amazing they were doing and promoting my classes, but two things started bringing discomfort. First, to find a good picture, I had to search tons of emails and Instagram accounts, and second, some of my students’ accounts were private. With that in mind, I thought about creating a separate account to follow my students and have pictures of their work in one place to easily search. Today, the page is a big community of students from all around the world, and any cakes I see in the feed are my students. It makes me happy that my students are now proud of that page. They strive to do their best to be featured, and they connect with other students – it’s a little family.

I take one step at the time, keeping in mind what more we could build, and when the time comes, I analyze which idea would be appropriate and begin the new journey. entrepreneurial chef


I never had money to start any of my projects, and I have always learned to create something out of nothing. That is why handmade was always my thing – no investment needed.


entrepreneurial chef

What prompted the launch of your online pastry shop HAUTE [ŌT] and what went into bringing this to life? At first, the plan was to build a platform to launch my signature food colors that we’ve been working on for a year. Then we added silicone molds because colors and molds are two of the most wanted products. Somehow, we then added chocolate, decorations, sugars, tools and so on. We kept adding things because my students were asking about the products I was using in my master classes.

You either go with the flow, learn new skills and develop, or you are going backward.

It was several months of working with suppliers and distributors from around the world setting the deals, finding the best shipping rates, packaging, warehouses, and of course building the website. I used to build websites, so my manager and I worked on this together. It is a long process – research, time – but in the end, it’s quite simple. We looked for a packing facility, warehouse, and the office, and hired an employee to take care of the packing and communication. We worked almost six months to set up the shop operations, products and website. During each step, it seemed harder than projected, but looking back, it had some errors but went quite smooth. It could have been faster, but at the same time I had master classes, communication with students, articles, colors production, collaborations with companies, development of recipes and taking care of my Instagram content – that takes about 2-3 hours a day because I am very picky [laughs].

entrepreneurial chef


Finally, what’s on the horizon for you in the coming year? Any new ventures you’re working on? I have a cooking book coming at the beginning of 2019 in Russia, and I plan on translating for the rest of the world. I have collaborations coming with chefs, pastry companies and non-pastry companies. I will be traveling with classes, developing my online shop, and probably filming a major online course. And I always leave two to three months at the end of the year for vacation and some interesting last-minute projects that always appear.

Do not be afraid to work with limited resources. What are some of the marketing/ advertising activities you engage in to promote the shop and drive product sales? I never used anything except Instagram – it’s one big channel that is not only widely available but [people on Instagram] are very interested in exactly what I’m selling. I could not find a better channel to promote my classes and products. I made sure to build my Instagram in the beginning as a platform to promote the projects that I would create. When the shop appeared, I constantly mention it on my page, and shoppers find me. 54

entrepreneurial chef

[Although], no matter how precise in planning I am, the world is turning. What was relevant on Monday, may not be relevant on Tuesday. I take one step at the time, keeping in mind what more we could build, and when the time comes, I analyze which idea would be appropriate and begin the new journey. Photo Credits: Ken V. Avelino, Ksenia Penkina

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.


How to Make

Your Restaurant More Sustainable By: Megan Wenzl


entrepreneurial chef



irst, let’s start with why – why make your restaurant more sustainable? Building a sustainable restaurant can reduce your carbon footprint on the environment, in addition to contributing to the overall health of your customers. Moreover, being a restaurant that considers itself environmentally conscious can also help attract customers. According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, about half of customers say that a restaurant’s efforts in sustainability can be factors in where they choose to eat. For example, if a customer in Detroit is looking for a restaurant with locally-sourced ingredients, they might Google “sustainable restaurants in Detroit.” If you are committed to operating a sustainable business, they will see your restaurant in search results.

A sustainable business plan can contribute to your reputation. With the anti-plastic straw movement in full effect, businesses are searching for ways to please lawmakers, along with appealing to patrons that expect more out of their local restaurants when it comes to their environmental impact. Good buzz from your greenish business practices can affect your reviews online and by word of mouth. Here’s a look at some ways to implement sustainable business practices. entrepreneurial chef


Use Recycled Paper for Your Menu Utilizing recycled paper for your menu can be one of the many ways to kick off implementing sustainable business practices - which can prove to be cost-effective if your menu rotates seasonally. Being that seasonality of dishes is a booming restaurant trend as of late, according to Upserve, your restaurant will not just be “trendy,” but you will also be supporting neighborhood farmers markets and businesses by sourcing locally - a win/win for your community.

Reduce Waste According to interviews with restaurant leaders by OpenTable, the most expensive waste for restaurants is general waste or landfill. By implementing an initiative to recycle all applicable materials and sending packaging back to suppliers to be reused, you can control your environmental impact and your operating costs in one fell swoop. Executive Chef Suzanne O’Connor shares within the article that she has formed relationships with all of her suppliers, and requests that nothing be sent in Styrofoam.

In addition, consider composting your leftover scraps from service to put it back into your own farm or garden to reduce waste. Don’t have one? Donate the compost to a community garden. 58

entrepreneurial chef

Grow Your Own Food Growing your own food helps reduce carbon emissions from the transport of food. The Southern Living Sustainable Guide reports that food usually travels hundreds or even thousands of miles before it gets to your kitchen. Another perk? Your food will be fresh, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction when it comes to food quality. Concepts located in an area with little space for backyard or rural gardens have taken to their rooftops. One of which is Chicago-based Uncommon Ground, first to be certified as a top organic rooftop farm in the U.S. The 2,500 square-foot-deck of space is even made of recycled materials.

Use Sustainable Products

Encourage Positive Lifestyles

Sustainability is not limited to the ingredients and the material of your menu. Eco-friendly products have become sturdier to accommodate restaurants that are looking to transfer from plastic to paper and/or recyclable materials from straws to utensils and even vessels used for delivery. If you want to make delivery easier, delivery vessels should not only be sustainable, but functional. It is important to do your research and a bit of testing before moving products to the floor. If you are considering using cornstarch straws, be wary of the fact that they tend to not be able to stand up to heat. Does that work for your menu items? Make sure you are not compromising quality for eco-friendly materials.

A sustainable business means promoting health for both your customers and your employees. Some businesses have gone as far as giving their employees money toward gym memberships and supplying them with a basic benefits package. This is an enticing way to retain employees and reinforce the new restaurant culture that is being built on a healthy lifestyle in and out of the kitchen.

Investing in cleaning products that are plant-based and non-toxic, is often an overlooked way of having a sustainable business practice. EcoLogic Solutions is a popular brand that offers cleaning solution that protects both customers and employees from chemicals.

Reflecting on Sustainability for Your Business Before you implement sustainable business practices in your restaurant, think about why you want to do so. Sustainability is a mindset. It’s something you should be committed to not just for marketing purposes, but because you actually want to improve the environment, create a positive employee culture, support local farmers and businesses, and serve delicious, fresh food to your guests.

Megan Wenzl is a writer based in Chicago. She enjoys creating useful, informative stories to help businesses succeed. Megan holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Western Michigan University. Megan has written about a range of different topics including event marketing, productivity, customer experience, and the history of root beer floats in Chicago. Megan is currently the community outreach associate for Clique Studios. Prior, Megan worked at ReviewTrackers as a marketer and writer. She started her career at MLive, where she held an internship as a news reporter. When not writing, Megan enjoys watching shows and movies, playing golf, and reading. entrepreneurial chef


Success Story

From Restaurants to Food Products,

Steve DiFillippo’s Food Empire is Fueled By Passion By: Jenna Rimensnyder


entrepreneurial chef



assachusetts Restaurant Hall of Famer, Steve DiFillippo, has been building his food empire since the ripe age of 24 upon purchasing his very first Italian concept in Boston, Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse. Since then, the award-winning brand has grown, adding nine locations scouring the nation– with more on the horizon.

The Cambridge School of Culinary graduate

Now, with over three decades

learned the ropes at the Boston hotspot,

of experience, the restaurant

SeaSide, mastering positions in both the

mogul shares his wisdom through

front and back of the house before ultimately

community outreach and his first

assuming the role of executive chef. In 1985,

published book, It’s All About the

DiFillippo purchased Davio’s with the mindset

Guest: Exceeding Expectations in

to match community needs – and as Boston’s

Business and in Life, the Davio’s Way.

culinary tastes began to develop and became

The memoir and hospitality book

more refined, DiFillippo transformed the location

features business advice for aspiring

into a fine dining destination. After perfecting

restaurateurs and chefs as well as

menu items and assessing market trends, in the

twelve signature Davio’s recipes.

fall of 2007, DiFillippo launched his popular

In our interview, DiFillippo shares

Philly Cheese Steak Spring Roll® as a retail

his journey and trade secrets for

product. Today his product line offers unique

blossoming entrepreneurs in the food

Spring Rolls in a selection of flavors, which are

industry including the importance of

available in 5,000 stores in 40 states across the

acquiring mentors, keys to successful

country, and they are a reoccurring featured item

expansion, and why restaurateurs

on the QVC Network.

should focus on all things local. entrepreneurial entrepreneurial chefchef 61


& QA The

with Steve DiFillippo

Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial journey in foodservice?

new design. Nowadays, any time we open a new location, we try out new things that, if successful, we transfer back to our existing locations.

We started Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in 1985. My goal was always to be a national brand. My dad was a businessman who helped grow an industrial uniform company called Unifirst to a national brand, and it gave me the idea at a young age I could do that in the restaurant business. We have 10 Davio’s restaurants now and will have 15 in the next few years. I really enjoy the process of opening new locations. If you do it right, expanding your operations can be a powerful way to change your operations so that they all stay fresh. We used our expansion to Philadelphia as a way to test a concept that we ultimately rolled out in our core market, Boston. Once we opened in Boston, we took the great new chairs and upholstery we designed for that location and wound up installing them in Philly, too, followed by Boston’s larger menu and great

Did you have an expansion strategy? How did you select new markets and how long did each new location take to open?


entrepreneurial chef

My strategy is to open a Davio’s where people are, where they work, live and travel. You want to have a diverse population that isn’t just residential or business. You should try to get all the boxes crossed off. Once we find a location, it takes about a year for the lease and construction to be done. Don’t make the mistake that some restaurateurs make and grow because you want to find places for your up-and-coming team members. If you expand, do it for the right reasons. It takes about 2-3 years to select each new market.

entrepreneurial chef


Don’t make the mistake that some restaurateurs make and grow because you want to find places for your upand-coming team members. If you expand, do it for the right reasons.

How do you become a part of the community’s DNA? All restaurants should be local. You need to cover the local area in all regards. Hire local, buy local, and choose local charities when you give back to the community you are now part of. Pay attention to the community and get involved. We do this in every market we go into. We want to be there for the long haul, so we immerse ourselves into the community and what is important to the guests in that particular region.

What inspired your expansion out west to Orange County, CA? In my eyes, we need to be coast to coast to be a national brand. California was always in the plans. When I met with The Irvine Company, I knew we found the perfect match. The landlord is crucial to the success of a restaurant. They are great partners and care so much about our success.

Now about your food merchandising – what sparked the idea? What are your current offerings? The Davio’s Philly Cheese Steak Spring Rolls was our first product. Jonathan Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, gave us the idea to go retail with the item. We now have over 20 products including six different spring rolls, sausages, meatballs, scallops, salmon, etc. They have been featured on QVC and have been purchased for homes all over the country. 64

entrepreneurial chef

What was your first step? Did you always know you would specifically sell the meatballs and spring rolls to stores, or did it evolve to be that way? Kraft suggested the idea of selling the item in retail stores and not just in our restaurants. We had to figure out how to make that happen. In order to mass produce the product, I met Stephanie Hernan who owned a local seafood company in MA. She helped us get started with our first product. It took a lot of tweaking, but we perfected the product and eventually got them into 4,000 stores. Now Davio’s is partnered with her, and the company is called Yankee Trader Seafood which is also a USDA company that makes meat products now as well.

All restaurants should be local. You need to cover the local area in all regards. Hire local, buy local, and choose local charities when you give back to the community you are now part of. How did the frozen foods gain popularity? Any particular marketing strategies involved? The Davio’s Philly Spring Rolls were very popular right off the bat at the restaurants. We used a design company called Motiv to create our packaging. Many guests have tried the spring rolls before they have visited the restaurants which proves the power of good design and instore presence. Also, we participate in a lot of marketing events in all our markets where we sample the spring rolls. entrepreneurial chef


Kraft said that they were just as good as in the restaurant and wanted to serve them at the stadium. That was our first account—Gillette Stadium. They were an instant hit; we sold out our shipment of 1,000 rolls during the first game. 66

entrepreneurial chef

We met with everyone we could get a meeting with. Hernan and I did this ourselves at the beginning. It’s hard work; you have to be aggressive and not take no for an answer. rolls. The big distributor Agar saw how successful we were at Gillette Stadium and agreed to have its own salespeople push the rolls to restaurants, caterers, hotels, and others they served. The same thing happened with Sysco Philadelphia. In some cases, the buyer decided to resell our rolls to end consumers as a Davio’s branded product.

How did you get them picked up by distributors? Also, any advice for others trying to get distribution for their products? We met with everyone we could get a meeting with. Hernan and I did this ourselves at the beginning. It’s hard work; you have to be aggressive and not take no for an answer. In early 2008, when the product was finally ready for sale, I called up Kraft who told me to bring them by the stadium, to try them out. Kraft said that they were just as good as in the restaurant and wanted to serve them at the stadium. That was our first account—Gillette Stadium. They were an instant hit; we sold out our shipment of 1,000 rolls during the first game. Kraft became a huge advocate for us. When you tell buyers in the food industry that you’re being sold in Gillette Stadium, and you have a wellknown guy like him singing your praises, you can make headway. I approached food distributors who sold to Davio’s and asked them to try our

What was your experience like pitching to and working with retailers? By 2009, we decided we were ready for retail. Hernan’s Yankee Trader seafood products were already in a lot of east coast stores, such as Stop & Shop, Roche Bros., and Big Y, so she was able to get appointments for us with frozen food buyers. We got a few sales initially, but many more the following year when we redesigned our package. Today, retail sales are about 50 percent of our total packaged foods business. I initially had a licensing agreement with Yankee Trader, giving me a share of sales, but sales of the spring rolls grew so quickly that I was soon accounting for half of that company’s sales. Feeling that I was leaving money on the table, I renegotiated a deal that gave me 40 percent of Yankee Trader. Davio’s branded products currently account for 60 percent of Yankee Trader’s sales. Responding to requests from our guests, we’re continually trying out new product ideas. entrepreneurial chef


Responding to requests from our guests, we’re continually trying out new product ideas. For the aspiring food entrepreneurs out there, what’s your best piece of advice for them? If you’re getting into the restaurant business, make sure you get a great education and make sure you have mentors, that’s what it’s all about. It’s up to us to appreciate the admirable people we cross paths with in life, observe what they do, and take them on in our minds and hearts as people who will influence us. Mentors don’t have to come from business; you can find them in your personal life, too. I’ve had so many mentors in my life—maybe ten or twenty of them. 68

entrepreneurial chef

My dad taught me to pay attention and never stop learning, among many other things. Bill Rodan, my high school football coach, taught me to never quit and do the best I could every day. Steve Mindich, owner of the Boston Phoenix newspaper, taught me how to have a winning lunch business. Charlie Sarkis, owner of thirtyfive restaurants, taught me about taking care of guests and team members. And my neighbor, Mr. Sampsonas, taught me that no matter how successful you are, you can’t ever take your eye off your family. Then, if you want to open a restaurant, you have to save up a lot of money – more than you think you need. And love what you do. If you don’t have passion for this business, then get out. Photo Credit: Briana Moore Photography


Apply and receive quotes from top-rated carriers in as little as 15 minutes. Our expert agents will then help you choose the right policy for your business. Get covered in as little as 24 hours. It’s that easy. After all, something about owning a business should be.

APPLY ONLINE From personal and private chefs to the restauranteur, we’ve got you covered.





Human Resources

t n e v e r P n a C s t n a r u a t s e R w o H

l a u x e t

n S e ssm a r a H


la Du y a K : By


entrepreneurial chef


ountless sexual harassment allegations have surfaced in the entertainment industry, which has prompted outrage throughout many other industries. Sexual harassment is, unfortunately, not limited to any segment, and the restaurant industry is no stranger to sexual misconduct. According to a report by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, restaurant workers file more sexual harassment claims than any other industry. In fact, more than 170,000 sexual misconduct claims have been filed in the industry in the past 20 years, and 83% have come from women alone. So why is it that restaurants experience more sexual misconduct, and what can organizations do to stop harassment?

Unique Issues in the Hospitality Industry There are several specific issues that hospitality workers face in the industry that contribute to the overwhelming number of sexual allegations. For starters, because management tends to be primarily male-dominated, many times it can feel like a “boys’ club” in the kitchen. Restaurant Opportunities Center United reported that while women do comprise 71% of servers, men make up the majority when it comes to managers, head chefs and owners. When the power dynamic is so skewed, a workplace

environment can shift to a place where sexual harassment is tolerated, ignored or normalized. As a result, employees may begin to feel resistant about confronting others and/or reporting inappropriate behavior. Along with a male-dominated environment, there is an abundance of young people in restaurants. Many teens, who look to the foodservice industry for their first jobs, are inexperienced with workplace standards. They may not have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t professional at work. And in some cases, their manager may be another young person who wasn’t trained on handling allegations or leading a respectful workplace. entrepreneurial chef


The most convenient way to set up an anti-harassment program is through online training modules. Adopting e-learning makes it easy for staff to access modules 24/7, deliver consistent training across all employees, and allow for tracking completions. 72

entrepreneurial chef

Lastly, customers play an integral role in some restaurant employees’ earnings. With wait staff relying heavily on tips, many employees put up with harassment from customers daily. Combined with the old industry saying, “the customer is always right,” and not wanting to sacrifice a generous tip, employees are less likely to speak out against sexual acts. Additionally, some employees may see this harassment as part of the job. All restaurants have a different culture, and sometimes revealing clothing is part of the service experience. Unfortunately, a revealing uniform helps customers justify their sexual harassment, leading employees to believe it’s acceptable.

Stop Harassment in Its Tracks It is the responsibility of the organization to ensure employees are receiving proper sexual harassment prevention training. The physical safety of all employees is a workplace concern and must be treated the same as any other safety law or procedure. Below is an outline of three ways restaurants can prevent sexual harassment. 1. E  stablish a Clear-cut, Zero-tolerance, Anti-harassment Policy Restaurants need to make it abundantly clear that harassment of any kind is neither allowed nor tolerated. If your restaurant does not have an anti-harassment policy, put one in place and display it in the appropriate areas. The policy doesn’t have to be ten pages of legalese; a simple one-page document with simple language will do the trick. Next, organizations must create procedures for everyone to follow if they need to file a complaint to ensure employees understand how to report harassment. In some instances, managers are responsible for handling complaints, but they may also be the perpetrator. Creating an alternative reporting solution is important for employees to utilize in these cases.

2. Training and Awareness Programs All employees should be required to complete sexual harassment prevention training, so they are equipped to identify harassment and able to maintain a respectful workplace. Managers, especially, should be trained to recognize harassment, understand legal requirements, address complaints and lead a harassment-free workplace. The most convenient way to set up an antiharassment program is through online training modules. Adopting e-learning makes it easy for staff to access modules 24/7, deliver consistent training across all employees, and allow for tracking completions. Many restaurants also utilize a blended learning approach to their training. Blended learning combines online training and traditional face-to-face training. Whether that be a combination of classroom training coupled with an online exam or handson training, blended learning can enhance the learning experience by reinforcing lessons via multiple media.

E-learning also keeps learners more engaged as opposed to paper-based materials, and modules can be viewed multiple

3. I ncorporate Harassment Prevention with other Training To be effective, harassment prevention training must be repeated often as part of an ongoing initiative. Organizations should aim to create a plan that incorporates anti-harassment training periodically to keep the content top-of-mind. Furthermore, harassment prevention training should be integrated even in the context of other training. How can you weave in a reminder about harassment prevention when discussing diversity? Can you reference a harassment claim when training conflict resolution? Incorporating harassment prevention messages in related training content is an easy way to remind learners how to recognize and prevent harassment.

By implementing a clear-cut policy, training awareness programs for employees and managers, and incorporating harassment prevention with other training you’ll ensure a respectful workplace for all of your employees, while reducing turnover and protecting your brand.

times to review confusing or forgotten concepts. Additionally, over time e-learning is costeffective when compared to the costs of traditional training expenses, such as travel, printed materials and time.

Kayla Dusing is the Public Relations Coordinator for Discover Link ( located in West Chicago, IL. DiscoverLink is the leader in e-learning for the restaurant industry, offering a unique combination of content and technology solutions supported by extensive development and implementation expertise. entrepreneurial chef


The world’s leading business plan software, built for entrepreneurs Pitch, plan, and track your business. Anywhere.

Test the numbers

Validate your idea

Create a pitch presentation

Share with stakeholders

With LivePlan’s unique approach to business planning, you’ll have a one-page business plan before you know it. It’s fast, easy, and even fun. In no time, you’ll be planning marketing sales activities, dreaming up products and service offerings, and creating essential financial projections. It’s the quickest way to get started.


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, (212) 974-1711, or visit 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. 76

entrepreneurial chef

Ghee A traditional cow or buffalo milk-based, nuttytasting type of clarified butter nicknamed “liquid gold” that’s native to India, where it’s closely associated with religious rituals and Ayurveda. Why It’s Trendy: Claimed health benefits include anti-inflammatory and digestive aiding properties. Ghee is commonly created by simmering butter (longer than you would for traditional clarified butter) until the milk solids caramelize and sink to the bottom of the pan – at that point, they can be strained out, leaving just pure butterfat, which increases ghee’s shelf life.

28% 12% <1%

Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It


entrepreneurial chef


Moringa Moringa is a type of tree (also known as a drumstick or horseradish tree) hailing from India and South Asia. Why Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Trendy: Boasting a long list of health benefits that bridge food and beauty, adaptogenic moringa could be the next big superfood â&#x20AC;&#x201C; look out, kale and matcha. As consumers increasingly look to foods and beverages that can do something for them, adaptogenic ingredients are becoming more central to functional eating.



16% 7%


Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

entrepreneurial chef

Kava Kava (aka kava kava) is a bitter-tasting tea native to the Pacific Islands. Created by grinding the root of the kava plant into a powder and steeping it in water, the end result resembles murky water and has an earthy scent.


Why Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Trendy: Kava is widely considered a functional drink, as it has a sedative/relaxing effect and is said to reduce stress and anxiety without affecting mental clarity.

Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

4% Consumers Know It


Consumers Tried It

entrepreneurial chef


Small Business Accounting Software That Makes Billing Painless

The all-new FreshBooks is accounting software that makes running your small business easy, fast and secure. Spend less time on accounting and more time doing the work you love. Š 2018 FreshBooks


Join us to end childhood hunger in America.


Entrepreneurial Overview:

From “Idea” to “Open for Business” By: Nahamani Yisrael


entrepreneurial chef



or any individual wishing to start a business in the food industry, they need more than technical skills

before going to market. Being able to cook does not necessarily mean they are able to create and operate a thriving business.

In Ice Houseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Entrepreneurship Program, we teach aspiring entrepreneurs to look at their business idea as a means of solving a problem for their customers. In order for them to have a clear understanding as to what problem their business idea solves, they must do ample research and test their theory. This technique requires that they talk to as many people as humanly possible at each stage.

To that end, every aspiring food entrepreneur needs to understand what angst their target audience is facing and how their potential customers are currently solving this issue. From there they can develop a strategic plan that addresses the issue in a unique and innovative way. Now, once the individual has created a concept they believe will stand out in the market, they must test the market thoroughly before investing large sums of money and time in the business. In the world of food, one great way is hosting a â&#x20AC;&#x153;pop-upâ&#x20AC;? at a location where the target audience is currently spending their time. To do this, the individual must first define their target audience and have a clear understanding as to what behaviors their target audience portrays. entrepreneurial chef


The initial goal is to get as many individuals to validate the business idea by exchanging money for the products being offered. In this early phase, every effort should be made to gather feedback from each buyer that will later be used to perfect the business idea. Food entrepreneurs, in general, must carefully modify their initial approach based upon the feedback they have received. Although, it is imperative they change only one or two aspects before retesting their product offerings in order to determine if the changes had a meaningful impact.

After creating a demand for a product, the food entrepreneur can then can look at scaling up their services. The appropriate next step would be to have a “soft launch.” Again, the goal at this phase should be to generate sales and gather more feedback, so it is important to not exhaust financial resources until there is certainty that product sales can support the business long-term. Finally, before fully investing the time and resources required to run a successful business, the aspiring entrepreneur will need to assess their strengths and weaknesses by doing a deep dive into their ability to handle the other aspects of business management: managing inventory, handling the accounting, finances, legal matters, as well as managing employees. If there are deficiencies in any of these areas, they will need to supplement by bringing on others who are strong in one or more of these areas. 84

entrepreneurial chef

Nahamani Yisrael is an Organizational Development Consultant at Nahamani. org. She obtained her BSBA from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio before launching her Consulting and Communications firm. She is a certified Ice House Entrepreneurship Program facilitator and teaches Ice House at Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative, where she shows aspiring entrepreneurs how to adopt the “Entrepreneurial Mindset.” Individuals who would like to learn more about Nahamani Yisrael, her business or how she can help you develop a strategic plan for long term success are encouraged to visit her website, or email her at



Are you in?

To get your company involved, visit



Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss the next issue! Guaranteed to be jam packed with fresh ideas, inspiration and actionable advice.

Profile for Rennew Media

Entrepreneurial Chef #32 - February 2019  

What will you learn from this issue? + Ksenia Penkina: The Dessert Business + Frankie Celenza: How He Carved His Niche On-Screen + Steve Di...

Entrepreneurial Chef #32 - February 2019  

What will you learn from this issue? + Ksenia Penkina: The Dessert Business + Frankie Celenza: How He Carved His Niche On-Screen + Steve Di...