Mary attended the prestigious Scottsdale Culinary Institute, graduating valedictorian of her class. She worked as a pastry chef in a variety of high-end venues, managed several large retail bakeries, and owned and operated a bed and breakfast. With her business partner Susan, Mary began developing gluten-free recipes to make delicious, allergy-friendly food available to more Tucsonans. They began selling their products at local farmer’s markets and developed a loyal following. They successfully launched their restaurant, Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery/Bistro, in 2011. Mary can frequently be found doing local fundraising events to give back to the community.
Rebecca believes that being gluten-free shouldn’t mean that your food tastes bad or is super expensive. She and her husband created Dedicated Gluten-Free Bakery & Coffee Shop to serve the community, and they are proud to share their delicious baked treats with their fellow GF’ers! Dedicated has a line of retail products available, and they supply restaurants and special events with a wide assortment of items. They continually strive for innovation, yet they’re still making their creations the way grandma made them.
Sigret has been passionate about cooking since she was a child. But it didn’t become more than a hobby until her early 20s, after she began working in the food and hospitality industry. She moved around the globe, spending time in New York, London, and Sydney, and expanded her reach as a personal trainer. In 2011, Thompson and her sister, Keanne, jumped at an opportunity to enter the catering business. Less than a year later, they opened a full restaurant offering an exclusively vegetarian menu.
The Panel Roundtable
- Food plays such a huge role in our sense of memory. To this day, the smell of onion slowly cooking in butter on the stove will instantly transport me to my Mom’s kitchen. I know when she starts a pan of that golden goodness that something delicious is coming our way. Are there particular food rituals or dishes from your childhood that inspired your love of cooking? Mary, I’ll start with you.
- As a business coach, I find myself chanting “You can sell to anyone, but who you market to should be specific. What your Ideal Client wants should be guiding your decisions.” I think some business owners shy away from being specific because they think they’re missing out on revenue. Yet each of you started a restaurant very much on your own terms and with a specific niche market in mind. I’m curious how each of you came to your respective concepts and whether you had any doubts about how they would be received. Sigret, I’ll start with you.
- Women still only make up around 21% of all head chefs. What’s frequently discussed is the difference between how women are perceived as domestic cooks versus professional chefs. Women chefs are managing a typically male-dominated staff under fast-paced and competitive circumstances. Sometimes people don’t always know how to interact with feminine energy in a leadership role. I know some women leaders feel like if they are calm and courteous, things don’t always get done. But if they become more aggressive, they either see results, experience resentment, or sometimes both. Have you ever struggled with feeling like you have to alter your personality to be a chef, or to be respected by your staff? Rebecca, I’ll start with you.
About Your Host, Stephanie Rising
A business coach and author, Stephanie Rising has helped over 100 small business owners achieve greater proficiency, profitability, and sanity. She specializes in navigating the complexities of family-owned companies and partnerships with 5 to 25 employees. An expert small business advocate, she provides objective problem solving and accountability that has led many of her clients to award-winning achievement. Her clients have represented a total of over $60M in annual revenues and 1,000 employees.
Stephanie specializes in DISC behavioral analysis and her book, DISC: Leverage Your Nature, Increase Your Sales, is available on Amazon. She outlines step-by-step tactics for building a marketing plan that is sustainable for each reader’s personality and speaks to their specific target market. Stephanie has led numerous well-received workshops on DISC-based marketing and applying behavioral analysis in business.
As an extension of her belief in promoting an educated and healthy community, Stephanie is a monthly sponsor of Youth On Their Own, which provides stipends, supplies, and mentorship to Tucson teens who are homeless through no fault of their own. She also supports Temwani Children’s Foundation, which provides education, food, and hope to orphaned children impoverished by the effects of HIV/AIDS in Lusaka, Zambia in Africa.
Stephanie’s podcast, Small Biz, Big Voices, is broadcast monthly on Tucson Business Radio X. Show notes, interview questions and additional coaching tips can be found on her Small Biz, Big Voices Facebook page.
Stephanie is available for executive team coaching, strategic planning retreats, and public speaking.