Tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey.
Cooking has been a passion of mine ever since I was a young child. I actually started cooking with my grandmother at the age of 4, and continued practicing and experimenting throughout my life. My husband used to joke that my TV only had 2 channels – Food Network and the Cooking Channel. I have to admit, I learned a lot and was inspired watching shows like Iron Chef. I knew I loved to cook, and always felt very comfortable in the kitchen making just about anything I set my mind to.
A few years ago, I finally decided to go to culinary school to gain more formal training, and I chose Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts here in Austin, TX. It helped me develop even more technical skills as well as the confidence to attempt any dish. Upon graduation from Le Cordon Bleu, I started working with a local catering company. However, I found that I really wanted to make my own menus, and bring more creativity to my work. The best way to do that was to start my own business as a personal chef. This is when Cuisine by Christy was born. It’s been a whirlwind start, and I’ve enjoyed every moment!
What did you do before launching your personal chef business?
I actually graduated with a degree in business from California State University, Fresno. I spent the first decade after school doing various marketing roles, including for a couple of local businesses in Austin – Borland Software and Bazaarvoice. Although my career was progressing well, it just wasn’t my passion. Cooking was, and is, my true passion.
Where do you find new clients?
A lot of my clients come from word-of-mouth, which is the best marketing you can have. But I also have found clients via a local community site on Facebook, Lakeway Swap – that caters to my local area, which works well for this type of business. I also use Thumbtack and some Facebook promotion. My goal is simple – delight every client, so they refer me to a new client.
How are you currently growing your business?
(Really same answer as above.) For what I do, the best way to grow the business is to delight your clients. Word-of-mouth is critical in this business. A lot of my engagements are doing dinner parties for multiple couples. The great thing about those opportunities is that I am already exposing my business to multiple new potential clients. This is why every engagement gets my best!
What advice do you have for other women who are considering this profession?
Whether it’s cooking or marketing or anything else, marry your passion with your career. I think we all can be successful in different ways. But what’s most important is waking up, looking forward to what you’re going to do that day. That simply outweighs everything else.
Is there anything you wish you knew before going to culinary school?
Cooking is really like a second career for me, so I attended culinary school a bit later than most students. I don’t know why, but I was a bit surprised how young everyone around me was. I just wish I had done this earlier. I wish I had made the decision to apply my passion to my career early on. Not that having a marketing degree hurts when you have your own business.
As a mom of two young children, how do you manage your family time and your business?
One of the great things about being a personal chef is that I have some control over my schedule. With my husband being a busy executive who does travel from time to time, we’ve had to bring in outside support to help take care of my children. I am so fortunate to have someone that is not only great with the kids, but also works with me on bigger client engagements. It seems to have all worked out pretty well.
Do you have a signature recipe that you can share with TWAHW’s readers?
I don’t know if this would be considered my “signature” dish, but I love making appetizers and this is a crowd pleaser. If you’re not keen on Gorgonzola, you can substitute Brie.
Roasted Pear & Gorgonzola Crostini
Makes Approx. 28 Crostini
- 2 Bosc Pears
- 6 oz Gorgonzola Cheese (room temperature)
- 1 French Baguette
- 1/4c Chopped Pecans, toasted
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- 4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
- 1c Baby Arugula (or micro arugula)
Cut each pear in half and remove the core using a melon baller or teaspoon. Slice each pear into approximately 14 wedges (approx. 1/4” thick). Place on parchment or foil lined baking sheet; brush with melted butter. Bake pears at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly brown, but still firm. While pears are baking, thinly slice baguette. Place baguette slices on baking sheet, brush with remaining melted butter and toast under the broiler until lightly browned, approximately 1-2 minutes.
Atop each slice of toasted baguette, place approximately 1-2 teaspoons of Gorgonzola cheese. Top with baked pear, chopped nuts and arugula. Finish with a drizzle of honey. Enjoy!
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