A Recipe of Epic Proportion

This time last year I was preparing for the biggest attraction in the city of Philadelphia – the 2016 Democratic National Convention. On Saturday July 23rd and again on the 24th, JADE Jamaican Grill would become one of a select group of food vendors at the DNC. It was a recipe of epic proportion whipping together two thousand bites for each event; the Media Party at Citizens Bank Park and the Welcome Delegate Reception at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. And an excellent showing it was, filled with world-renowned Jamaican goodness and Caribbean charm.

A few days prior to the DNC, I orchestrated a live television appearance on the local FOX-TV affiliate station and featured both dishes that would be served at the convention; our signature Caribbean Sea Salt Rum Cupcakes, and classic Jerk Pork and Rice & Peas. It was a fun time on Good Day Philadelphia with co-hosts Mike Jerrick and Alex Holley, and an experience of a lifetime at the convention events.

As I sat at my desk yesterday preparing for another exciting opportunity – Adjunct Chef Instructor at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College – I was reminded about the convention. I was struck by the fact that exactly a year ago I was gearing up for what was divine fortune. Had you told me last year that my small business would be part of the DNC, and not just one but two events, I might have given you the suspicious side eye. Had you told me a few months ago that I would be preparing to teach at The Restaurant School, I wouldn’t have believed it either. Yet, here we are. Here I am.

What a difference a year makes! And yet, the more things change the more they stay the same. In a revelatory sort of way, I was struck that each birthday month (I was born on July 9th and just celebrated my 44th birthday) the universe gifts me an amazing opportunity tailor-made for my unique talents and abilities. On Monday, this Monday, July 24th, I will step onto the campus at The Restaurant School in Philadelphia to teach my first class – a one-week International Summer Cooking Camp. I simply could not have written a better script or charted a more interesting course. This new adventure is, in the same way, a recipe of epic proportion; the same month, the same dates, the same place.

Don’t you just love when things fall into place? And isn’t that it? They somehow always do. Eventually, we all get where we’re supposed to be, not minding the twists and turns, speed bumps and roadblocks.

Here’s to the business of traveling down a new road on this lifestyle, foodie, entrepreneur journey that is my life. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Knowing whichever way the road forks and whatever path I take, I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

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A Good Day to Air Things Out

Whenever you have the opportunity to share major news on air count it a good day. And that’s the day Jade Jamaican Grill enjoyed recently when I stopped by Good Day Philadelphia to dish about my company’s participation at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

This wasn’t my first time on television or at FOX 29 News for that matter. I’d been on with host Mike Jerrick and his colleagues numerous times over the years. But this particular appearance with Jerrick and his co-host Alex Holley took the cake!

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Here I was – one of a select group of small business food vendors chosen to provide tantalizing tastes at this major national event. And not just one event either. JADE was selected for two; the Media Party on Saturday, July 23rd at Citizens Bank Park and the Welcome Delegate Party at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, July 24th.

So a few days prior to the start of the convention I took the opportunity to air things out on live television by showcasing the bites JADE would be serving at the DNC. Let’s just say our hosts could not keep their forks or fingers off the food. I mean chunks of spicy Jerk Pork and heaps of savory Rice and Peas disappearing in plain view. You can’t make this stuff up. See for yourself.

JADE Jamaican Grill at the DNC

It really was a good day to air things out!

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A Fresh Start

Much like this salad, the new year brings with it a fresh start; an opportunity to do a new thing. Even if you’re pursuing the same dreams, going after the same goals, working the same resolutions, it’s your chance at doing it differently.

It’s been said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is foolish. So, what better time to toss out the old?

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Here are the five steps I’m employing as I press my way to a spectacular 2016:

Go Organic

Strip away all the baggage, dirt, and junk of 2015 and leave it all behind. Take only the lessons. Garb a hold of that fresh start and forge ahead. That means no pollutants; only sustainable practices that will move you closer to your field of dreams.

Plant that Seed

Get out there and work that thing! Enough said.

Water It

What can you do to ensure that newly planted seed will grow? Water it, of course! Put in the time, effort and resources necessary to set yourself up for success. Follow-up, follow through, and repeat.

Build & Grow

As you work and water do so with the expectation that your seed will sprout. Before you know it your tree will be blossoming.

Root it Up

Sure you’ll pause to take it all in. We all want to enjoy the fruits of you labor. But, don’t get so enamored with the pretty flowers that you stop planting for tomorrow. Go back to the root, the source and keep planting, watering, building and growing so you can get to that full blown harvest.

I know it will be hard. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. But day by day, week by week, month by month…

What are you doing differently this year to ensure you’ll have your heart’s desire? Share it. Perhaps I’ll pick one or two to add to my mix.

Happy New Year and all the best for a bountiful and prosperous 2016!

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A Prosperous New Year

A heartfelt thank you for supporting JADE and FullOnFlavor this year. I could not have done it without you! Wishing you a year filled with peace, joy and prosperity.

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See you in the New Year!

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Working with Williams-Sonoma

As I sat at my desk outlining my fall calendar a few weeks ago it occurred to me how fortunate I am to be working with Williams-Sonoma. With two upcoming food events at the gourmet retailer, I began to reflect on how our collaboration began. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share how it all came to be.

Our relationship is no accident. I had taught cooking classes at another chain store. After about three years, I decided to fold it into my own product offering as Pantry Parties – private, hands-on instruction in the comfort of the client’s home. So, I’d been there, done that so to speak.

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Seeking to establish my brand as a flavorful food venture- not merely a Jamaican one, I set my sights on a company whose name is synonymous with taste, quality, style and functionality.

If you’re a food connoisseur,           Williams-Sonoma’s high quality cookware, specialty products, gourmet foods, in-store culinary events and stylish home furnishings are familiar. And it’s not just passionate foodies; professional chefs are hot for the brand.

Not long after I formed my namesake JADE in the fall of 2013, I contacted the Princeton, New Jersey store to see whether they offered cooking classes and how I would go about getting on the roster. During our conversation I fired off my list of accomplishments – numerous television appearances on NBC and FOX, a cooking series on PBS, mentions in the local print press, having taught culinary demonstrations previously, and so on. They were impressed and we scheduled a meeting and site tour. I followed-up with an email, included the standard accompaniments – my resume, bio, head shot and media clippings.

We met, all went well and we booked my first cooking class. Thrilled about my score I wasted no time. I telephoned the flagship store at Columbus Circle in New York City. A similar scenario transpired. After a site tour the assistant manager and I discussed how we would incorporate my brand of flavor into the mix. Long story short, we settled on a date for demo number two.

My first demonstration was a success. So much so that by the time I reached out to the King of Prussia store the following Monday they were well aware of who I was and equally as excited about me doing a demo there.

Since then I’ve taught almost ten classes, in five cities and three states in under two years. I’ve loved every minute of it! And from the fact that they’ve invited me back numerous times – I think it’s safe to say they relish having me there too.

And that’s how the story goes!

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Making the Most of Small Successes

miTZyMUEverybody wants to win. We want to win in school, at home, on the job, in business and just about every aspect of life. No one gets in the game to lose. But how do you get to the winner’s table?

I’ve noticed that people do not relate in terms of winning when discussing their personal aspirations. They instead use words and phrases like succeeding if life, being successful, accomplishing my dreams, doing what I was meant to do and so on. But one must realize that it’s not only sports teams and politicians who set out to win. That thing you refer to as a goal, a dream, a destiny, or that expectation that consumes so much of your time and effort is you ultimately trying to win. Winning is the realization of your potential.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, innovators, creators and visionaries especially, understand that there is a process to everything. But more than that, they recognize that rejection is part of that process. We hear the word “No” a lot. No, it doesn’t make sense, no, I don’t think it will do well, no, I don’t think the market is ready for that, no your price is too high, no, you’re not the right fit, no, I’m not interested, No, No, No! Eventually however, you get a yes. And it doesn’t have to be a life-altering, breakout yes that catapults you into global recognition. It can just simply be a yes. The size however, is a minor point. The power lies in the win itself. The validation signals something is working. Here’s how making the most of small successes can work for you:

Showing Gratitude

Begin by being grateful. Gratitude is the all important first step to realizing your dreams. It creates the right attitude and the right approach. It is a gentle acknowledgement in your spirit that says you appreciate where you are in the process. It’s that drop of oil in your lamp that sparks the flame that lights the fire in your belly that powers you to take your next step. When your approach is in alignment you are on a path to success; the very thing you’re trying to achieve. Gratitude is a force all its own.

Sweet Inspiration

Once you’re outfitted with the proper disposition you are ready for business. When you’re feeling good about where you are, who you are, what you’re doing, it unleashes a wellspringof inspiration. And we know when someone is inspired, truly inspired to do, to be, to create, watch out! History is the greatest teacher of what truly inspired people can be led to accomplish. Using small victories to empower and embolden you breathes new life into the every day. Inspiration is one of the greatest motivators you can have. It’s organic and it comes from within.

Motivation makes you word harder, take bold steps and make bold moves. Think of the last time you were really revved up. What happened? You went on to do that task that you’d been putting off, make that phone call that you’ve been dreading, or something else along those lines. The bottom line is when you became inspired it motivated you in such a way that things that were larger than life no longer seem daunting. Suddenly there were no fears, no hesitation and no hang ups.

Unleash Your Creativity

Inspiration breeds creativity, and creativity sets passion on fire, transforming ideas and vision into tangible results. When creativity flows momentum happens. Your labor begins to bear fruits. That no becomes yes. And that yes, even a small one, can move you closer to that goal line. So, take time to celebrate your small successes by giving yourself a virtual pat on the back.  Celebration shows approval. It says, yes, I want more of that. Here’s where the true power lies:

  1. When you accomplish even the smallest of tasks, it affirms that it can be done. How? Because you just did it!
  2. It tells you it can be done again. Why? If you did it once before it stands to reason you can do it again!

Suddenly the unreachable, unattainable and unachievable, no longer is.

Moving with Purpose

When you are close to the goal line you must be purposeful; purposeful with your time, your money, any and every resource at your disposal.

Too often in life and in business, we get caught doing things just because. We do it for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps someone else has done it, we’ve been invited to do it, or we simply had an opening in our schedule. But in order to make it to the winner’s circle you have to brush away the fluff.

Celebrating your small successes helps you do that. It acknowledges and reaffirms that you’re heading in the right direction. I did this and that happened. And why wouldn’t you want more of what actually works? When you’re focused you are more strategic, you move with intention and with purpose. It’s worth remembering everything has a season and seasons change.  Let one small victory lead you to the next and ultimately to your destiny. Here’s to small successes!

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Delivering A Satisfying Customer Experience

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I meet a lot of people as a traveling private chef. The people I’ve met are from all facets of life, at varying levels of success, with different educational backgrounds working in various industries. And it doesn’t matter how much they make, where they’re from and what they do for a living. They all want the same thing from the company or people they’re in business with; and that is a satisfying experience.

So how do you go about making a client happy? Here is my recipe for delivering a satisfying customer experience from start to finish:

1. Respond Quickly
Each encounter with a client should be positive and engaging. Start by responding quickly to the initial inquiry. That means as soon as possible and within 24 hours. This reaffirms for the client that they made the right decision and that you’re the right person for the job.

2. Be Professional
How you present yourself, your product and/or service is an extension of your business. How well you treat your customers, their colleagues, their guests, etc., matters tremendously. So, be respectful, be kind, and be professional. Remember, you never know who is watching.

3. Plan, Prepare, Execute
Everything thus far has been ground work, attitudes and mindsets that shape your business and set you apart from the competition. This third step however is the meat and potatoes. This is where the bulk of the work gets done.

No matter what line of work you’re in and how long you have been doing it you have to put in the work. Everyone wants to do a great job. But in order to get to that satisfying end result there are three things you must do; you must plan, you must prepare, and then you must execute. You cannot prepare if you don’t have an action plan and you cannot execute your plan if you’re unprepared. It’s really that simple! Put the work in so you can achieve the desired result. This is your recipe for success!

4. Be Appreciative
We live in a very competitive marketplace with tons of options for every product and service under the sun. Yes, you may be good at what you do, great even, but there will always be someone equally as good or arguably better. Take the time during your follow-up to let the client know you appreciate their business and value them as a customer. Doing this helps foster an ongoing and hopefully long-term relationship.

There’s a quote I like that says “People may forget what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel.” A truly wonderful experience makes a lasting impression.

I’ve had the good fortune to work with some really great clients and have received many rave reviews. Here’s one from a customer in New York City:

“We absolutely loved it. Chef Janet was amazing and really helped provide the exact experience I was looking to achieve. I work for the food network and have a lot of history dealing with chefs and I have to say that chef Janet was the pinnacle of professionalism. The food was outstanding and her ability to work with me on curating the menu made everything easy. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a great dining experience.”

Do you have an amazing customer service experience you would like to share? Post them here. To read more of my customer reviews visit JADE Jamaican Grill.

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