On Saturday, February 17th, Spice Kitchen Incubator hosted the second annual Food Entrepreneur Round Table at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in Salt Lake City. Aspiring food entrepreneurs spent an exciting day learning and collaborating with experienced chefs and entrepreneurs. Workshop topics included hiring and managing employees, talking to the press, scaling a business to a food truck, restaurant, or packaged product, and more. With support from community partners including, the Utah State University Extension, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake Chamber's Women’s Business Center, The Suazo Center, and the Microbusiness Connection Center the event was able to reach close to fifty attendees.
Natalie El-Deiry, deputy director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City, led the morning’s introductions and opening remarks. Moudi Sbeity, chef and co-owner of Laziz Kitchen, addressed the group with his inspirational story of hard work and achieving his dream of owning a successful food business that invites the community to experience and enjoy Lebanese cuisine.
Afterward, attendees dispersed to the morning breakout sessions, focusing on business operations. Speakers from the Utah Department of Health, Westminster College, Utah’s Own, Utah Department of Agriculture, and numerous local businesses shared their expertise. Participants worked through the lunch hour listening in during a Q&A session where panelists shared insights into their most useful resources and lessons learned in the process of starting and sustaining their businesses. During the afternoon, breakout sessions focused on scaling a business.
Throughout the day, established Spice Kitchen entrepreneurs displayed their expertise and passion by leading several sessions. Chef Donovan of Jamaica’s Kitchen shared his experiences of scaling his business to finally purchase and run a food trailer. Chef Wichai of Laan Na Thai sat on a panel discussing the lessons he learned during the first year of restaurant ownership. Chefs Kamal & Geeta of Bhutan House Restaurant in Sandy, UT catered lunch for the Round Table offering an example to all budding entrepreneurs of a successful brick-and-mortar.
At the end of the day, attendees built their network during a mixer, approaching the day’s panelists and speakers with specific questions. The feedback from attendees was overwhelming. Entrepreneurs felt inspired to take on the next steps for their business and equipped with new tools and resources to do so.
You can learn more about Spice Kitchen Incubator and the current businesses working with the program by visiting SpiceKitchenIncubator.org. If you would like to sponsor future Food Entrepreneur Round Tables for refugees and new Americans, email us at SaltLakeCity [at] Rescue.org (subject: Food%20Entrepreneur%20Round%20Table%20-%20Inquiry) .