Not sure you’ve seen my new logo?
Thanks to my amazing hubby Reggie Johnson, Burnt Toast Kitchen NYC is fancy and schmancy! (not only is he great with graphic designing, he knows a LOT about social media and marketing, getting your name out there. Good to have a hubby like him).
Starting your own business (especially when you know nothing about starting a new business) can be daunting! After many free classes through the Small Business Services, Score, We NYC, the Power Up program via the Brooklyn Public Library ( yes I’m hoping to win $20,000!) and here I am seven months later. What have I learned? Mainly that there’s always something new to be learning.
Learning has taken many forms.
Talking with other small business owners: I’ve talked to a few other women who’ve started their own businesses: Ronna, from Purple Kale Kitchenworks (a whole ingredient cooking school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn) (who also just published a gorgeous cookbook The Nimble Cook which encompasses her whole ingredient, minimal waste philosophy) and Alexis of Bronx Baking Co (who specializes in German Style Pretzels and pretzel bread (scrumptious!) and I got from both of them that it takes a lot of planning, hard work and sometimes just trial and error for things to work. It’s so easy to get self absorbed in designing a website, writing a business plan, submitting paperwork to incorporate, figuring out ways to get my name out there and advertise, etc. For me, it’s so important to maintain contact and interactions with people or I easily will feel disconnected and disjointed.
Classes. I am a gatherer of information. If I feel unsure of myelf about something, I do lots of research and try to learn as much as I can about the topic. As mentioned above, I took (and am still taking) business classes. I also love learning something new. As some of you know through my posts on Instagram and Facebook I took a bread class in Florence through the Artisan Bread School. With the guidance and expertise of master baker, Carl Shavitz and his super patient (and talented) assistant Laurie Pike, I learned to make bread. Mainly sourdoughs, but also simple white loaves. I came back from my class and practiced practiced practiced.
Bread and pastry has always made me nervous, given their need for precision and expertise. In non pastry/bread cooking, you can wing it and fix most mistakes, but baking? Not really. Overproofing, Underproofing, too much humidity in the air, too much heat in the air, a cold room, all can contribute to a sad end product. Working in restaurants often added another layer of pressure to the situation, as you often needed to have your product ready for service that day or evening and if it failed, you didn’t have much (or any!) time to start again.
Perhaps being a vegetarian/vegan private chef makes it a little more difficult to find people to work with, but I keep on trucking! I believe in creating vegetable-focused meals that are delicious and make the eater happy. It’s important to know both your strengths and weaknesses, so you know the areas that you have to work on. I have learned that I need to tweak my photos and sharpen my photo taking skills. That’s next on the agenda for me to learn. In this social-media driven world I know that pictures and videos say a thousand words.
Immediate future plans for Burnt Toast Kitchen NYC:
Have a test class or two. People seem excited to learn things and have been asking about when the classes aspect of my business will begin. I have to find a space for group classes, but I definitely can come to apartments and homes do individual classes with 1-4 people involved.
Finish my business plan! As mentioned above, I am enrolled in the Power-Up program through the Brooklyn Public Library. The top winner gets $20K, with $10K for the runner up and a few $5K winners after that. Other branches have their own version, but you need to have an idea for, or have recently started (having earned less than $10K) a business. Through classes and meeting with mentors and librarians, the goal is to write your business plan (for those not in the no, it’s a sketchout of what you plan to accomplish three (or more) years for your business. You need to look at the market, is your idea viable, your competition, who will your customers be, and the dreaded financials. Let me tell you, writing a business plan is not for the faint of heart! It’s not an overnight accomplishment but takes hours. Even if I don’t win, I will have an amazing blueprint of what I want to accomplish for the next few years.
Help a new business owner out! That’s where you, Burnt Toast Kitchen NYC aficionados come in . I know I have a multitude of readers from all over, meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians (you guys eat it all!) What do you think? Would you guys ever consider having someone to cook for you? If so how much would you pay? Would my meat eating friends (or flexitarians) ever consider having a vegetarian chef cook a meal/meals for you? And cooking classes? Would you consider vegetarian or vegan classes? I have two formal surveys that some of you may receive, or find here and here but informally, inquiring minds want to know! Would love any feedback (important for my business plan so any little bit helps! Comments are welcome!
Will keep you guys posted on the progress!