We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The Chef and the Baker was started organically when Chef Jason London and I started dating and realized that we had complementary culinary talents. We both had a desire to start our own food businesses, and a mutual desire to serve people through food.
Chef Jason has background as a restaurant manager and personal chef, and I had been baking for years. After understanding that our passions & purposes were aligned, The Chef and the Baker was born! We provide Comfort Food with a Twist via private, virtual and and pop-up in-person events.
We started this business in order to creatively express our passion for food and leverage our talents. The fact that we have each other to lean on within a partnership has allowed us to push each other and stretch ourselves past what we may have done alone. The business also provides an additional stream of income, which continues to motivate us in our entrepreneurial journey.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
One thing that sets us apart is our partnership. Chef Jason is the culinary mastermind behind the food, and I am the creative director and baker behind the brand. We work together on creative menus and customized experiences for our clients. The experience we provide is a truly a collaboration of the best from the both of us.
Our concept “Comfort Food with a Twist” also sets us apart. Our menu includes comfort food from all over the world. You can find dishes like our specialty – Short Rib Risotto, to our Jerk Chicken Alfredo, to our flavorful Curry dish with rice. Our desserts are also comforting and delicious with items like Chocolate Chip & Pecan Cookies and Mini-7-Up Bundt cakes.
Getting to where we are today was not easy. We both have full-time “day jobs” and it can be difficult to continue to maintain a side business. We are able to overcome the challenges by setting realistic business goals for ourselves and having regular business meetings to track against these goals and hold each other accountable.
Some lessons that we have learned along the way is that you have to know within yourself that you did an amazing job. At the end of the event or your assignment, you have to walk away knowing that you laid it all out there and did the absolute best you could. If you know deep down that you killed it, then the validation from the client is just the cherry on top. You have to know for yourself, and only you will know if you reached the standard that you set for yourself.
We want the world to know that our goal is that our love for each other comes through in the food and experiences we create. We work together to show the ways comfort can be manifested on a plate or in a serving platter.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We are currently based in Chicago, but in Atlanta, I would highly recommend that any foodies work off their calories at a new cycling studio called CYCMODE based in Buckhead. It’s a cycling studio that has bikes that move from side-to-side along with a massive video screen where you ride the bikes along with video. You are transported to another world, and sometimes it feels like you are working out inside of a video game. They also have Music Video rides, where the hottest music videos are playing on the screen with a cycling instructor that has arranged an amazing workout to the music. The best part is that it’s black-woman owned!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We would like to dedicate our shout out to our friends, family and customers that have supported us along the way. Specifically, we would like to give a shout out to Samantha Dockery, who recommended us for food pairings on her virtual Wine Crawl, Prince Kuumba who trusted us with his rehearsal dinner (one of our first larger scale events) and Regine Rousseau with Shall We Wine, who brought our culinary talents to a food and wine pairing with her clients. Partnerships like this allow us to expand our reach and introduce our brand to more people – and we are forever grateful.
Nate Crawford @capturesbytkco