Each month Business Minded Women, B.M.W will be showcasing a Business of the Month to spotlight their success, along with the hard work and dedication that is put into keeping them focused everyday. I have interviewed a few businesses in person and online to ask questions to help us learn more about the owners and the products and services they provide to the community .
This month’s Spotlight B.M.W feature is business owner and Chef of Scratch by Chef Christa…..Christa McLaughlin!
Host: I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with me today!
Host: What brought you to Business Minded Women, B.M.W group and what have your experience been with the group?
You actually added me I believe but honestly it’s hard to say because people add me to their groups all the time but once I checked it out I was more than happy to be a part of the group. I enjoy the group actually especially when so many women are against each other or aim to put each other down its nice to be a part of a group where women can not only uplift and motivate each other but also support each other’s businesses as we aim to uplift our community.
Host: I like to add women that I see are about their business! 🙂
Host: How does the group benefit you/your business?
Having been given the opportunity to post my menus and flyers I have acquired new clients and relationships within the group.
Host: So, what inspired you to start your own business and to start this type of company?
When my daughter was born I was blessed with the opportunity to stay home with her for her first year and in doing so I fell in love with cooking. I started cooking for friends which turned into a side gig. Maybe 5 years later I made the decision to become a professional chef so I went to culinary school and my career as a chef began however as I worked for many different kinds of restaurants I saw that I faced similar challenges as I did working in the corporate world. I also continued to cook and cater for friends and managed to maintain a small client list so after about 5 years of experiencing all of the challenges that come with being not only a woman but a black woman in a very male dominated industry I started to realize that if I could create such amazing creations for the restaurants I worked for then I could also do it for myself. I have always been different and always found a way to make money on my own outside of the traditional paycheck but once I became a chef I knew it was my life’s work and my key to true freedom so I began to learn all that I could and jump from place to place to gain experience in every genre I could. One of my final stops was a large catering company in DC and it was there that I knew that I could do it, that I could use all that I had learned to free myself from the thumb of employers for good. I had tried many times before and many times I lost hope but without failure you cannot attain success so I stopped partying, I stopped hanging out and everything else that kept me from giving myself the same 100% that I gave my former employers.
Host: WOW, that’s understood! Very much so!
Host: I notice you LOVE to fish, what inspired you to start and what are some of your favorite fish to catch?
Fishing saved my life! Being a former bartender and living the life of a chef alcoholism is an easy trap to fall into and it was that trap that I was stuck in. I had fallen into a cycle of drinking, hanging in bars and keeping the company of so called friends that only brought me down. Everyone wants to hang with the person that is the life of the party, always buying and never expecting anything in return. After hitting rock bottom a few times and looking around to see that none of those people were there for me when I was down I decided I wanted to make a change and get a hobby that would keep me out of the bars. I had an associate who was in a group I was in who mentioned that he was going fishing and had a fishing group, I had been fishing when I was little and I remembered how much I enjoyed it so I had him add me to the group, got myself a rod and started going with them. In the beginning I didn’t know how to cast or even setup my rod for that matter but they showed me everything I needed to know and in a couple months I was just as good as they were. I found a peace like no other when I was on the pier, a bond with this group of guys that wasn’t sexual or inappropriate and most of all I was able to let go of my habit with the bottle. While I still appreciate a cocktail I have self control and overall I am a much calmer person. I love fishing so much that I don’t have a favorite fish to catch, I just love it all whether its fishing on a pier or deep sea fishing off a boat.
Host: I Love IT!!!
Host: Do you have a signature dish? Do you have any favorite dishes?
I don’t have a favorite dish it’s impossible with so many choices to choose just one, my love affair is with food, how it grown/raised and the many ways to prepare it. I do however have a signature dish it’s my brain child I created at my very first restaurant out of culinary school as Executive Chef. It was at Indulj Restaurant & Lounge where a very young Chef Christa created the Collard Green Spring Roll in 2008. Since then others have tried to imitate them and some have even attempted to take credit for them but anyone who is familiar with DC, U Street or Chef Christa knows exactly where they came from.
Host: What are some of your favorite ingredients?
I love fresh vegetables and herbs for certain….even though the term farm to table is somewhat cliché the concept of it is still very attractive to me. I also love cooking with seafood but it has to be fresh I just can’t get next to frozen unless I have no choice. I also really love experiencing new ingredients and different foods from all over the world.
Host: If I wanted to have a candlelight dinner for myself and my “hunny” would you be able to offer that service?
Yes! I do intimate private dinners all the time and when I do I bring the ambiance, the food, the wine…..the entire experience.
Host: Does Scratch do catering for weddings?
Scratch definitely caters weddings both small and large plus because of my pastry experience I also do wedding cakes and dessert displays so I have the ability to handle all of the food and beverage to make any wedding a special event.
Host: Do you have specific packages?
Because Scratch is a 100% custom catering business I don’t offer packages, instead I create menus unique to my clients and the theme of their event.
Host: Do you do partnerships with other business owners?
Yes! I partner with other business owners for events all the time, it’s a great way to build relationships as well as grow my client base.
Host: What keeps you motivated?
My daughter and my family keep me motivated, the ability to be there for them and offer my assistance when they need me. Plus I appreciate little moments like my quiet time in the morning, being able to take care of my chores and errands while everyone else is at work and having time to drive my daughter to school or go fishing are luxuries that many don’t get to enjoy.
Host: How do you overcome adversity as an entrepreneur?….People don’t understand we go thru many ups and downs its not as easy as some may think…so how do you handle adversity?
I’ve never been the type to allow people to tell me no to my dreams and aspirations. When I told my mother that I wanted to be a chef she told me that I needed to get a real job because I had a child but I knew what I wanted to do and I did it. There will always be nay sayers, there will always be doubters but I don’t allow the noise to stop me. Since I was a child people have tried to put their doubts and negative energy on my life based on what they expected me to become and I have always proven them wrong.
Great! I love that!! That’s how you do that! 🙂
Host: Bonus question: If you could time travel back to day one of your startup and have 15min with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and heart ache, what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself not to allow outside noise to take away my focus, to always have my contracts and paperwork in order no matter the relationship and to allow myself to enjoy the journey while still focusing on the destination.
Host: How can people reach you if they need your services?
By phone: 202-599-3240
Thank you so much for being B.M.W StarBiz of the Month!!