I always tell people I was raised in the kitchen. My father was also a caterer and exec chef. I went to every single catering event and grew to love the work he did in the kitchen. It started as me just going because of childcare needs, to actually creating a passion for the world of Culinary Arts. I started as his dishwasher, moving to prep cook, advancing to line cook, and assume the role of a lead cook. It was at the advancement of a lead chef, I realized this was the work that I truly loved. We’ve all heard that expression "It's not work if you love what you do". Becoming a Chef was that work for me. On the other hand, I was really good in another field as well. I worked in education for 10 years and I enjoyed the work I did as a school administrator. I constantly battled with working in education and my passion for cooking. I knew my true calling was OWNING my own catering company/ restaurant. I started that journey after a few more years in education, going back to school for culinary arts, and moving from Philadelphia to Houston. I did just that as I launched my business and am now the CEO/ Exec Chef.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
My biggest hurdle was walking away from a consistent job, consisting of a 73k a year salary. The hardest part was going from something known to a very unfamiliar day to day. I overcame the fear by looking at my end in the beginning. I soon came to understand that in my current role as a school administrator, I was already at my ceiling. Where I was going within my business, a ceiling didn’t exist.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
In regards to contention or negativity, I didn’t receive any. Everyone I went to was very positive and knew that the gift I had would flourish. My fiancé, who knew our financial situation and the need for me to keep working was the one who pushed me into my dream the most. I wouldn’t change anything but my timing. I wish I would have jumped out on FAITH sooner than I did.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
My two most influential factors would be my faith and the people around me. The reason I say this is because neither would allow me to stop or walk away. The one thing I know today that I wish I had known when I started, is the importance of mentorship. In order for me to go places I have never been and see things I have never seen is surrounding myself with chefs who have.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
My piece of advice would be to KNOW your GIFT and your PURPOSE. You have the gift and it’s up to you to make it flourish. Understand you can’t do it alone and you need likeminded people who have done it all before around you in your circle.
This is Chef Mark and I look forward to seeing you on the other side of the table!!!