You’ve probably scrolled past editorial stylized dishes on your favorite food blog or on social media. But it’s not every day that you learn about the business behind culinary entrepreneurship. Yes, it’s an entire industry. And if you’re ready to learn how to take the heat in the kitchen, Chef Erica Barrett, founder and CEO of Southern Culture Foods, wants to help you learn the recipe for success as a food entrepreneur.
Since launching her company in 2012, Southern Culture Foods products are being sold in 4,000 stores nationwide. And we hear that her pancake mix, waffle mix, and rubs are popular by demand! So, if you’ve been sitting on a family recipe, want to learn more about the science of cooking, or become an entrepreneur and food personality like her—she has you covered.
Barrett took a moment from throwing down in the kitchen to talk about all things food and business. Take a look at her bite-size tips for food entrepreneurs.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: There are years of training that goes into becoming a chef, how can those interested in food entrepreneurship learn the basics without formal training?
Erica Barrett: Being an entrepreneur is about figuring things out. When you embark on a food journey, you embark on the road less traveled. Read articles, research everything, exhaust all resources, reach out to people that you admire. Make mistakes as experience is the best teacher.
How did you turn your career as a chef into a successful business, Southern Culture Foods?
I really didn’t do anything outside of step out on faith. God did the rest. My journey has been an everyday journey of learning, growing, networking, structuring my goals, and working tirelessly to make Southern Culture a household name.
What is the secret sauce to the business of culinary entrepreneurship?
The secret sauce is learning about the food industry every day, studying trends, and striving to be extremely different.
You wrote the cookbook, Shuga & Seoul, which seems like a natural move for a chef but what did you learn about culinary entrepreneurship through that process?
Writing a book taught me about structure, being organized, and creating a culinary road map for others to follow.
How important is it for food entrepreneurs to position themselves as personalities and build their social media presence?
Social media is huge and can be life-changing. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, separating yourself comes from being totally different. We have an opportunity to change the world through food, so don’t take it lightly.
Have you been able to monetize your online presence? If so, what advice do you have for other food entrepreneurs?
Yes, I use FB ads; I also do influencer ads, videos, FB lives and email lists. Building a community online is important to success. My advice is to find your unique calling in food and trust your gut. Be bold in who you are as a chef an entrepreneur and success will follow.
If you want to hear more from Barrett, join us in Charlotte for our newest premier event for innovators, creators, and founders; FWD. Get your tickets today!