So, a while back, a friend suggested that I just start cooking dinner for my friends on a daily basis. Tell them what’s for dinner, a price and then tell them what time it will be ready to come pick up. Cook like I cook for my family. And that this could be, should be, my job.
I didn’t pay it much attention, but then when I got laid off last May, I thought about it some. I kicked around a few ideas as to what to do with myself, other than work for someone else for a living, and this one kept rising to the top as the most well, everything, with feasible at the top of the list of pros. So I spent some time this summer talking about it, reading about it, from a slew of incredible food blogs getting ideas about food to books on starting my own business, my own home based business, my own catering business and writing a business plan, among others, but really haven’t been quite sure exactly where to start.
I’ve talked to just about every chef I know about this. A few told me to just start cooking and figure it out from there. I really wanted to have a set, written business plan, I wanted to be organized and thoughtful about this, but after debating this fly by the seat of my pants approach, which, honestly, is how I seem to end up doing everything I do most of the time anyway, I decided to just do it. Really, just jumping in and seeing what it took, at least once, might really be more helpful. Yes? I have an outline in my head. I have a vision. I know I have to start from somewhere….. but in the process of that, I find myself getting caught up in the minutia, I find myself getting overwhelmed and stalling out. And a number of thoughtful people told me to just jump in and do it. People whom I thought might know what they are talking about.
So, yesterday, I had my first test run. I emailed some of the people I’ve babbled to about this over the summer with a dish (black bean/spinach/goat cheese enchiladas), a price and a pick up time. RSVP please. I had 6 families sign up. I had a few others interested but either missed the RSVP cut off time or weren’t sure about goat cheese. (Something I learned – to note when I’m willing to make a substitution for something like goat cheese.)
I spent my day cooking and figuring out some of the how. Which at times was work, but at times, wasn’t. I don’t measure things when I cook – I eyeball it. To take that method of cooking and make it not only precise, but to quintuple it was a challenge. I did okay. I got some things wrong, but nothing too major, nothing I couldn’t fix. I got a feel for what my kitchen and equipment could handle. There’s alot of math involved and I’ve always said I hate when math is on the quiz for the day. So many details to figure out. I’m not sure what my next step is. Keep going, of course.
I met with someone from the local chapter of SCORE today. I set this appointment up a few weeks ago, as a self imposed deadline to do something on my big idea. I had grand plans of having a fully written business plan by now, instead, I’m just trying to figure out what else I need to do, besides keep cooking. There’s a whole legal, business side to this that I need to get a handle on. And while he did help with that, he also gave me the same advice I’m getting from a few different corners – just cook. Start small and just take it from there. Figure out my plan, but right now, it’s okay to just put one foot in front of the other and see where the path leads me.
After spending the summer brainstorming a name with everyone we saw, Virginia came up with one a few weeks ago. Dinnaah. Dinn-aah, as I’m calling it. Once I had that, I felt much better about moving on. I’m going to cook as if I’m cooking for my family, so it’s local, seasonal and mostly vegetarian, with any meat that we do serve being local and humanely raised. I might even include some of my own produce – yesterday’s dish helped with the avalanche of peppers I have going on. I’m going to keep it small and try out different recipes and see what works, what doesn’t. I think I’ll need another stock pot and maybe a back up fridge. Yesterday’s first run was met with much applause and praise. Thanks Robyn, for the huge shout out on Facebook that started a little buzz this morning. I definitely feel like I’m moving in the right direction. There are going to be mistakes, but that’s life. I want to find a way to make money and have it be something I enjoy. This just feels right, no matter how much I get lost in the details. So, I’m just going to cook.
Yesterday I got a good feel for how things could work in my kitchen. I definitely need to take some time and get myself organized around here, so it will be a slow start at first. I’ll probably only do dinner one or two nights next week. And I need to figure out our Wednesdays, because I somehow have lined up the most inefficient schedule imaginable for a certain someone and will need to figure out how to juggle that along with serving dinner to not just my family, but others. But, hopefully, by the end of September, I can be be serving dinner at least 3 nights a week. That’s a good goal, yes?