Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carl Shipp, Founder of Chef Carl, located in Baltimore, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a private chef/caterer and creator of the "Cuisine of Love." Through my cuisine, I curate menus that are intentional and inspired by the guest or guests of honor. I use my culinary skill to create dishes that are edible expressions of love. If you're a foodie and want to host an event or tell that special person you love them, let my team help you create that unforgettable experience.
Tell us about yourself
I had the privilege of growing up in the kitchen with my mom and grandma. I have fond memories of those Sunday dinners at grandma's house with all my cousins and aunts, and uncles. To me, love is food and family. Cooking came naturally to me, and I knew that this career was the one that I could excel. I've had a few serious/dangerous careers. Although they all were rewarding and honorable, none were as fun as being a chef.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment. However, all my private events are major accomplishments for me. I help some create memories that last a lifetime, from weddings to anniversaries. It was my privilege to cater to a couple celebrating 50yrs of marriage. There was a lot of love in the dining room that day. There are a couple of events that stand out. But I'll share one that has been going on annually for three years now. It's called the "Soiree' of Love." This event is a pre valentine's love affair for couples. Four-course meal paired with wine, a live band for the evening, and a DJ for the after-party. We have a 360 camera set up as well as a photo for a couple of professional pictures to be taken. It is a night to celebrate love. Every year we pack a venue with 50 plus couples, so the execution of this event with all its moving pieces is an accomplishment I'm proud of.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things is having a work/life balance. There are so many hats you have to wear when running your own business. Relationships with friends and family can suffer as well as your personal health. Also, I can be really creative, and right at the end of an event or private dinner, I could be planning the next one. Well, you gotta find a healthy way to turn it off. To unplug sometimes. I guess that's the gift and the curse. I truly enjoy the creativity I can express in the kitchen. It's so much fun to create, to take natural ingredients and transform them into a dish that will nourish another. Turning it off is hard, especially since I took have to eat every day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Study and research your industry. You must know your market, so you know where you fit in and how you stand out.
- "No's" are just as important as "Yes's"; you cannot let a no discourage you. The road has "no's" scattered all around, but your yes is right there. And you have to be ok with telling what you make think is a potential client NO, that you are not the right fit for the job. It's healthy to give out your own "No's"; this can help maintain the integrity and value of your business.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Or get a mentor in your industry or field of work.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Fatherhood is a major pillar in my life. My sons are my WHY. Through entrepreneurship and the Culinary Arts, I have been able to provide for my four sons, as well as show them a great example of a man determined to excel in something he loves to do. And a chef is not who I am; it's what I do. My belief in God and focus on the culinary arts have opened so many doors and so many opportunities to grow and learn new disciplines and skills.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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