“Do you want to get to know African food? You don’t need to pay for a ticket to fly anywhere," says Lamine Sarr, co-owner of East and West Catering. "We can take you all over Africa in half an hour!”
[caption id="attachment_3192" align="alignright" width="300"] East and West Catering co-owner Adama Jammeh makes beignets and brochettes at the Taste Around the Globe booth at Tukwila Village Farmers Market.[/caption]
Lamine and his cousins Adama Jammeh and Oumie Sallah launched East and West Catering this spring to offer traditional foods and beverages from their home countries of Gambia and Senegal, as well as favorite dishes from other parts of Africa. Their menu items include mafe peanut butter soup from Senegal, sukuma wiki braised vegetables from East Africa, and a hibiscus drink that is especially popular in Gambia.
Check out East and West Catering’s menu and website, and hire them to bring delicious cuisine to your next event! You can also try their food at our Taste Around the Globe booth. This month, you can find East and West Catering at:
- Renton Farmers Market on July 9,
- Pike Place MarketFront on July 12, 19, and 20,
- Tukwila Village Farmers Market on July 17,
- and Auburn Farmers Market on July 28.
Stay tuned to our website for additional Taste Around the Globe booth dates. In the meantime, enjoy our Q&A with Lamine:
Tell us about your business.
We promote a variety of East and West African foods, offering good quality and good prices.
[caption id="attachment_3194" align="alignright" width="300"] Sautéed okra with bell pepper and onion by East and West Catering.[/caption]
What inspired you to start East and West Catering?
I used to own a restaurant in France, and I have worked as a chef in Seattle for three years. I’m excited to apply my food industry expertise to our family business.
What makes East and West Catering different from other food businesses?
We cater for all communities. Our dishes are tasty, nicely presented, and professionally prepared.
What do you like most about your work?
My favorite part of my work is when I’m in the kitchen, cooking for customers.
[caption id="attachment_3193" align="alignright" width="300"] Samosas by East and West Catering.[/caption]
What have been the biggest challenges in launching your business? What resources have helped?
To know how to cook is not enough. You have to know customers’ needs and how to solve them. FIN helps us in many ways – it opened my eyes to marketing and communication. I’m learning how to connect with customers. And now I can do my accounting and business plan because of FIN.
With family roots in the American South, Jalissa Horton acquired a taste for soul food as a child. By age 13, Jalissa was preparing full-course meals for her family, and she developed her love of cooking making family recipes passed down through generations. Jalissa’s mother nurtured her passion by allowing her to turn their home into a weekend restaurant for family, friends, and co-workers. In high school, Jalissa learned cooking fundamentals at a culinary vocational program, and then received a scholarship to the prestigious College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University. After earning her degree, she studied Italian cuisine at the Florence University of Arts School of Culinary Arts in Italy. A new member of FIN’s Food Business Incubator, Jalissa is continuing her culinary journey through her business, which specializes in scrumptious food based on fresh, in-season local ingredients. Check out Chef Jalissa’s website, and read our Q&A with her:
Tell us about your business.We create products for fellow “foodies” who live for delicious food and love unique culinary experiences.
What makes your business unique?We present a fusion of Southern American cuisine and international spices to create a unique experience. I take pride in making everything from scratch, using authentic and natural ingredients for all dishes.
What inspired you to start this business?I started this business because I love to cook for others -- my food is authentic and made with love. I have spent my entire career in the restaurant industry. I live, eat, and breathe food. It’s not a hobby for me, but a way of life.
What are some of your most popular menu items?Mouth-watering smoked meats, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, sweet potato pies and other desserts, specialty ice teas, homemade condiments, and sandwiches.
What’s been the biggest challenge in launching your business, and where did you find help?Finance has been the biggest hurdle, and FIN has been a big help to me. I have peace of mind now, and I am so excited for the future!
The culinary arts have been Monica Wachira's passion since she started learning to cook at age 5. She went on to study catering, and has worked in restaurants for more than 10 years. Her love of preparing and sharing healthy food led her to join our Food Business Incubator and launch her own business, Monique’s Hot Kitchen, this spring. Check out Monique’s Hot Kitchen’s catering menu, and find Monica at FIN’s Taste Around the Globe booth at the Federal Way Farmers Market on July 6, and at our new Tukwila Village Farmers Market on July 3. (Stay tuned for more Taste Around the Globe dates.) You can also meet Monica at our Food and Fashion Makers Night fundraising event, where FIN food businesses will offer up samples of their delicious cuisine. In the meantime, enjoy our Q&A with Monica!
Tell us about your business.Monique’s Hot Kitchen is a catering business making authentic Kenyan food.
What inspired you to start Monique’s Hot Kitchen?Every time people come to my house, I cook for them and serve them as if they’re in a restaurant. They like my hospitality and they are happy about my food. They say, “Wow, I felt like I was in a five-star restaurant! You should open a restaurant!” They see that this is my passion. When you do something you love, it will come out perfect. I make food with love, and I take pride in what I do in the kitchen.
What makes Monique’s Hot Kitchen different from other food businesses?[caption id="attachment_2984" align="alignright" width="300"] Monique's Hot Kitchen's pilau rice, mukimo, and samosas.[/caption] I make food from scratch using natural ingredients, and fresh, high-quality spices. I can taste the difference between natural and unnatural food. [Where I grew up] in Kenya you could grow things in the garden and take them straight to the kitchen -- no GMOs. That’s what I like, and why I use organic food. I want to feed people healthy food. There is so much disease these days caused by unhealthy food.
What do you like most about your work?I love it when I know I’ve done the best job, and my customers are satisfied.
What have been the biggest challenges in launching your business? What resources have helped?The challenges have been figuring out where to start, how to start, choosing my business name, and accessing capital! Connecting with FIN and getting coaching from Kerrie Carbary have been a big help.
What would you say to other aspiring food business owners?Go for what you believe in, don’t give up, and look for resources around you. FIN is a great resource – you can’t go wrong working with them.
Over the last few weeks, we've shared videos profiling each of our Food Business Incubator program participants. It's time for our fifth and final video, which features Mamá Tila Catering: Ofelia named Mamá Tila after her mother, who was known as the best cook in her town. Ofelia takes her time preparing authentic dishes from across Mexico, including many of her mother’s recipes. Check out Mamá Tila’s menu! And if you haven't yet seen all of our business profile videos, catch up now:
It's time for another video in our profile series of FIN food businesses! This week we're featuring Taste of Congo: The only Congolese food business in our region, Taste of Congo offers a one-of-a-kind experience! Founder Caroline encourages you to try her beignets, which can be enjoyed any time of day. Check out Taste of Congo's menu, and stay tuned for more videos in our business profile series.
It's time for the second video in our FIN food business profile series! This week we are featuring Naija Buka: Chef Lilian makes delicious, authentic Nigerian cuisine. Try Naija Buka's popular jollof rice, as well as fried plantains, peppersoup, puff-puffs, and more. Check out their pop-up event at Project Feast's Ubuntu Street Café on March 9! Can't wait that long to get your fix? Visit Naija Buka's new website to see their menu and make your order. Then stay tuned for the next video in our business profile series.
We're excited to share the first of five videos profiling FIN Food Business Incubator participants! This week the spotlight is on Soozveen Mediterranean Catering. Sisters Sheelan and Zozan founded Soozveen because they wanted to share family recipes and stories. Try their dolmas, hummus, falafel, and other dishes made from scratch and flavored with the spices of Northern Iraq. And don't forget dessert -- their baklava and jasmine cookies are out of this world! Check out Soozveen’s menu, learn more about our Food Business Incubator, and stay tuned for videos featuring Sherehe Kenya Kitchen, Naija Buka, Mamá Tila Catering, and Taste of Congo coming out over the next four weeks!
Incubator program participant Ofelia Anorve brings authentic dishes from across Mexico to the Seattle area. Check out Mamá Tila's catering menu, and read on for our Q & A with Ofelia. Tell us about your business. My business specializes in traditional Mexican food. How did get the idea for your business? A lot of people would tell me that my food was really good, and I should have my own business. Also, there was a lack of traditional Mexican food in the Seattle area. What makes you different from other catering companies? I take my time when I cook my food, and I do it with love. What do you like best about your work? What I think is best about my work is seeing people enjoy my food. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business? I think people would be surprised to learn that my food is authentic, fresh, delicious and healthy. What’s your business’ biggest challenge? My biggest challenge is that if my business is growing fast, I can be under stress since I am running it alone. What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? I would say that FIN is really helpful and you learn a lot. Contact Ofelia: (206) 265-9746 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We're excited to introduce you to incubator program participant Caroline Musitu! Her new business, Taste of Congo, has been a hit at farmers markets in Renton and Federal Way this summer. Visit her at a farmers market, check out Taste of Congo's catering menu, and read on for our Q & A with Caroline. Tell us about your business. My business is a catering food service. I cook African food -- Congolese food. I make samosas, rice with vegetables, goat, chicken, salad, French donuts called beignets, and more. What inspired you to start this business? I am from Congo, from Kinshasa, a beautiful city where people like to dance and to eat. There’s lots of parties and celebration. When I was young, my mom used to do catering for weddings, parties, and church; I used to help her make things. But when I came here, my Congolese community would just cook food on their own for events. I said, Why not start a business cooking for them? Special events like weddings happen once in your life, and you have to have food that wows! What makes you different from other catering companies? I have the only Congolese food business in the area! Once people try Congolese food, they’ll know it’s good. It’s very fresh and healthy, too. What do you like best about your work? When my food makes people happy. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business? I’ve cooked since I was 10 years old. When people visited, I’d go to the kitchen and cook for them. My siblings don’t like to cook, but I love it. My mom showed me how to cook, but I like to invent new recipes; I don’t like to do the same thing, I want to keep it fresh and different. What’s your business’ biggest challenge? I’m learning how the market works, and how to present Congolese food to people who aren’t Congolese. What services or programs have been helpful? Ventures and FIN have helped with the business side: the formal lessons, marketing, calculation, prices. What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? FIN are good people to work with; they help us small businesses to get started, grow, and even become big businesses. Contact Caroline: 206.778.5615, email@example.com, Taste of Congo on Facebook
[caption id="attachment_1834" align="alignright" width="300"] Yanzhi and her daughter, Manchun Yu[/caption]
Mian Dian NoodlesMian Dian is an authentic Chinese catering company run by Yanzhi Zhang and her daughter, Manchun Yu. Together, they make handmade food like they used to enjoy in China. Service Area: Within 20 Miles of Kent Availability: Delivery on Saturday and Sundays Contact: 425-524-2721
Q: What inspired you to start Mian Dian Noodles? When I first came to the US, I was surprised and delighted by how much Americans love Chinese food. But after a while, I discovered that most Chinese food sold here has been modified to suit an American palate. American Chinese food has been this way since the 1920s and is far from the kind of food I had back in China. So, I decided to make it my mission to provide Americans with an opportunity to experience real, authentic Chinese food, and provide Chinese people with the food they had back home. Q: What makes you different from other types of Chinese food? My daughter and I both grew up with authentic Chinese food handmade by our loved ones. Every part of our lives was embraced by our traditions and our food. We want to spread the blessing we've had to Americans. Q: What do you like best about your work and what is most challenging? Spending time with my daughter while planning the future of our business. Also being able to share the most important part of our culture with so many people through Chinese cuisine. My daughter and I both have day jobs, so it's very challenging for us to have time for a business. My daughter and I both have day jobs, so it's very challenging for us to have time for a business. My daughter and I have only been in the US for three years, though, and from difficulties with everyday activities to owning a business, we have come a long way. Q: What types of services or programs have been helpful? The project feast training I received two years ago has helped me out a lot in the process of creating my business. I learned a lot about the how to use a commercial kitchen, which I had no experience with before. Q: What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? If they have the opportunity to work with FIN, I highly encourage them to do so. FIN has provided us with all the resources that we needed along the way, they have helped me to make my dream come true.