Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ken Payette, Owner and Founder of Ken Payette Personal Chef, located in Rochester, NH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is in 3 parts. First off, I deliver family-style meals from Sanford, ME, to Newmarket, NH, and from Portsmouth, NH, to Alton Bay, NH. Then we are a full-service event caterer. Lastly, we do personal chef meals at clients' homes. My customers are anyone that wants to have a professional, delicious meal at a reasonable price.
Tell us about yourself
I have been cooking for over 30 years professionally. I started in my parent's home cooking for the family. I fell in love with food and the different flavor combinations that happen when certain ingredients are used. I worked in a variety of different restaurants in Maine and NH.
When I was laid off from Compass Group at Liberty Mutual in 2020 due to COVID, my clients, whom I had been cooking for the past six years, got me to make them chicken pot pie. I thought that I would only sell about 5 or 6 pies, but as luck would have it, I sold over 30! I was up to my eyeballs in the dough for two days. Ken Payette, the Personal Chef, was born. I met clients at the Walmart parking lot and sold food out the back of my pickup truck. Now we lease the banquet kitchen from the Governor's Inn in Rochester, serving over 170 meals a week and making about 40-50 deliveries.
The thing that motivates me every day is my relationship with Jesus. He has blessed me in so many incredible ways, from the amazing chefs that I have working with me to being able to bless others through the business platform. Another thing that gets me up in the morning is to be able to help my community through Manna Meal and Bread of Life ministry.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is taking a small meal business and turning it into a profitable catering business in just over a year.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think the hardest thing that I have had to deal with is taking care of my clients while the cost of everything skyrockets. I made a pledge not to raise prices during the rising fuel costs and food prices. It was hard, but I was actually able to hold out for the past three months. Now I have had to go up a little more due to the cost of supplies and food.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- The first is that never give up. Every time someone tells you that it isn't worth it, don't listen to them.
- Second, take care of your customers. They are the lifeblood of your business. Listen to their suggestions and forget your own ego.
- Third, always remember the ones in the background that have helped you get where you are. Spouses, parents, children, friends, and other professionals. Without them having your back, you might not get to where you want to be.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I want to thank God. My wife and parents have always supported me. My friends Marlo and Andy have been instrumental in my success. I also want to thank my loyal customers for helping me to get where I am today.
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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