Introduction From a Career Transitioner

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Guest, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest


    I've been lurking in the forum for sometime but thought I would introduce myself. I've been working as both a developer and a manager tech industry for 15+ years and been an avid amateur cook for that same time, mainly focusing on Indian inspired foods as that is my ethnic heritage. After thinking about it for many years, I've decided to take the plunge and leave the tech industry to open a food cart focusing on "Local Fare with Indian Flair," i.e, not my mom's Indian food. I'm super excited and I know that I am leaving a cushy job for something that will be physically grueling but I'm turning 40 and decided I just need to go follow this passion. I have run kitchens in the past for various festivals and local non-profit events, putting together menus and managing a crew of folks to feed up to 300 people, so I have a tiny bit of experience plus my management experience from the tech world. At first it will just be me but I hope to hire my first employee in the next few months and have a goal of opening a brick/mortar in the next 3 years. In many ways cooking/running a kitchen is an engineering process that requires understanding flow of items and people so I'm feeling pretty confident but know that there will be lots of bumps in the road. I am opening in a few weeks and my starting menu is mostly in place. It will change seasonally as I'm going to sourcing directly from a few farmers but the core will remain the same:

    * Cardamom Chai Chicken: Chicken wings brinned in tea, par-steamed with tea, deep fried, glazed with a coconut sugar-chai glaze, finished with smoked cardamom salt.

    * Chana Masalla Belly - Ginger tamarind brinned brinned pork belly that's slow roasted and then seared in ghee before serving, cumin-onion confit, garam masala roasted garbanzo beans

    * Fried rice - basmati, cranberries, various spices

    * Vegan bean flour waffles served with seasonal fruit chutneys

    * Indian spiced coleslaw

    * Seasonal sabzi (sauteed veggies in custom curry blend)

    * Candied hazelnuts with Bengali 5 spices

    * "Pulse of the Moment" - rotating selection of beans, lentils

    * Cascadian Chai - Traditional Chai meets Pacific NW wild crafted herbs 

    My biggest challenges will probably be inventory management and not under/over producing items and really getting a grasp of all the health code issues (for example, I'm still trying to figure what is an acceptable way to hold hot milky chai for service as an airpot is not acceptable for dairy products from my research).

    I'm sure I'll have lots of questions as I go down this path and I've already learned a lot from reading here.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2015
  2. chefedb


    Likes Received:
    Retired Chef
    You seem to know what you want to do and have the right attitude.

        Opening a food facility is a valuable learning experience. It requires patience, understanding human nature, labor management and control, purchasing, food prep, engineering, sanitation. You have to be a little bit of everything. Oh Yes if the toilet breaks you should know how to fix that too.  Keep your menu simple,

    Things that you can't hold or serve correctly don't make.

    Do what you are best at. Become known for 1 special item.  Good Luck to you in your new venture.