All Articles Tagged "food network chefs"
Meet Chef Delilah Winder: Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the City of Brotherly Love, Chef Delilah Winder is an award winning celebrity chef who garnered national attention in 2003 when Oprah named her Mac & Cheese “The Best.” Chef Delilah has been recognized as national spokesperson for Wal-Mart Stores, Lactaid and Hillshire Farms. Her combination of prize-winning culinary art skills and business acumen has been recognized nationally. In fact, she was the first African-American woman honored with the James Beard Foundation, Women in Food Business Award. The former business analyst hit it big when she took $50,000 and opened her first six Delilah’s Southern Cuisine stands, and later, opened a soul food restaurant in 2000 (which eventually closed). The author shares some learning experiences with Madame Noire.
MN: Some people have had certain career passions for as long as they can remember. Was it always your dream to own a restaurant? If so, what attracted you to the field?
CDW: I have always had a love for food and entertaining. I feel like there is no other joy than to be able to share a good meal with people you love and care about.
MN: Why did you decide to leave your job as a business analyst and start your own company?
CDW: One day as I was hosting an intimate get-together with some friends, I realized that my passion for cooking was so strong that I just decided to step out on faith and follow my dreams.
MN: How long had you thought about opening your one-woman food stand in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market before you actually took the steps to open the eatery? What was the process of starting that early business like?
CDW: My location in Reading Terminal actually came as a result of a girlfriend of mine who, at the time, knew the general manager. She introduced us and I mentioned that I would love to open a restaurant there and the next thing you know it happened. The rest is history.
MN: What was your initial investment in your first restaurant?
CDW: My initial investment was a $50,000 loan which I borrowed from my god-parents. I was blessed to have family members and friends who believed in me enough to want to invest in my dreams. My passion for food and cooking proved to be the icing on the cake. I continue to be involved in the day to day operations of my restaurant. I have developed long-term relationships and friendships with many of the customers that come in for lunch and/or dinner on a regular basis. I love seeing people enjoy good food.
MN: In his book, The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber talks about the difference between a technician and an entrepreneur. For example, he says a technician may write entertaining books but someone who owns a bookstore needs to have marketing, financial management, employee relations, customer relations, etc. skills to succeed as a business owner. Gerber goes on to say that most entrepreneurs don’t understand this difference, many lacking business skills, until after they’ve launched a business. Considering the fact that the Small Business Administration estimates that nearly 552,600 new businesses are opened each year while another 660,900 companies close each year, would you say most business owners do adequate research and are fully prepared to open a company or do you think, like Michael Gerber, that businesses fail because their owners have strong technical skills but weak entrepreneurial skills? Why do you say this?
CDW: I would say it’s a combination of both. Many people that step out to become entrepreneurs do so because of a particular passion they have. Many times, things start to happen so quickly, that they do find themselves lacking in some areas. A person with drive and determination will learn by trial and error, but also remain focused on being successful at their end result. This requires the desire to constantly learn and research the industry.
MN: Owning a restaurant is no easy gig. Success in the restaurant business demands focus, solid financial management and passion. What skills did you bring to the table when you opened your first restaurant, skills you gained from years of working as a business analyst? Which skills did you have to acquire along the way?