We had the good fortune of connecting with Micole Rondinone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Micole, what role has risk played in your life or career?
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned through having my own business (two of them, actually) is that risk is imperative. I think you could argue that an opposite of risk is fear: we avoid risk because we’re afraid. But I’ve found that for me to be afraid is to be living fully alive… My life is full because every day looks different. I am forced to live in the full spectrum of experience and emotions.
Before deciding to become a solopreneur I lived a very risk averse life. I was always waiting for life to happen to me rather than taking the risks necessary to create the life I wanted.
So I started by taking risks slowly — I didn’t just jump off the cliff. I started exploring the things I was interested in. Then started investing money into my interests and ideas. First I got a website, then a new camera, then went to get culinary training… In February of 2020 when I was laid off I had done enough small risk taking and experimenting that I knew it was time to take the biggest risk of all: to start my own businesses. Even in the midst of a global pandemic I went all in. It has been, and continues to be, incredibly confronting and challenging – yet so fulfilling and rewarding.
My life now is one where I have to be pretty cozy with risk (& potential failures). Something I remind myself of often is that the safe option is always there. The 9 – 5 job, the traditional options – they’re not going anywhere. So why not lean into the risk first?
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
In my work as an Intuitive Culinary Coach I welcome people to approach food and cooking from a new perspective, which I certainly am very excited about.
I encourage people to think about cooking as more than just a mechanical necessity of daily life. Instead, understanding cooking as a practice that supports us. As self care, just like meditation or yoga. Cooking can be a modality for emotional healing. The kitchen, a place for meditative quiet and creative expression. A place where we simply nourish ourselves with food, and don’t overcomplicate it.
So many of us approach cooking with an all or nothing attitude (and lots of cultural stories). We forge ahead with newfound aspiration at the start of each season or week, committing ourselves to it then petering out just as quickly as we’ve jam-packed our fridge with food we’ll never get around to making. This resembles the way people approach going to the gym or meditating, which is without consideration of, “Is this going to be sustainable in the long run?”. We have to approach cooking more realistically, building a practice that suits our specific lifestyle and time constraints.
I’ve just launched my signature 8 Week Culinary Coaching program called Kitchen Confident, which is a high touch 1:1 culinary experience for beginner and intermediate home cooks to practice technique, learn flavor mastery & address mindset — all in one place. This is about helping them build their most sustainable cooking practice.
I wanted this program to equally acknowledge the technical while also considering the multi-faceted, and often times complicated, relationship so many of us have to food and cooking.
When discussing the idea of finding your purpose, or building a business, I often use the analogy of a sculptor – who chisels away at a boulder and ends up with a beautiful statue: it takes a long time for the creation to be revealed, and of course there is always space to tweak and reimagine.
My ideas are definitely layered with my personal history. I am someone who is recovering from disordered eating, perfectionism, workaholism and trauma. My approach is one that I feel is not yet largely represented in existing culinary education, wwhich is one that is neither nutrition-focused, recipe-focused nor technique-focused.Sure, those things are all a part of the dialogue but when it comes to food, there is no one size fits all for each person.
Since I started rcommitting to my own ideas, it’s been about 5 years. I’ve been operating as a business for nearly 2 ,and I still have SO far to go. This path is one of trial and error, exploring different avenues, being willing to take risks and make mistakes. Solopreneurship is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is fulfilling. It requires a lot of perseverance and a strong community. You need people around you who can help you to see the value in what you offer, because as entrepreneurs we are also usually thought leaders. In wanting to do things differently, we have to trust that our genre of different has value. My entrepreneurial colleagues are paramount to my success.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Gosh – as a born and raised New Yorker, this is a tough one! Not only is there just SOOOO MUCH to see, since the pandemic many favorite local stores, restaurants and small businesses were shuttered. I grew up in the West Village, and though the neighborhood is still beautiful, the community has changed significantly.
That said, some highlights for me would have to be as follows:
See what’s left of Little India on East 6th Street. The dueling restaurants Milon and Panna II are most famous, but I personally prefer Malai Marke around the corner. Make sure to do some spice shopping at Duals Natural on 1st Avenue.
Do a taco crawl! There are MANY places to go for good tacos but if I had to choose just three: start at Los Tacos #1 at Chelsea Market, then hit Tacombi on Bleecker Street, and finish at Chilo’s bar in Brooklyn for the backyard tacos. Taqueria St. Marks Place used to be on that list but they closed in the pandemic…
Walk around Greenpoint, the neighborhood I’ve called home over the last 8 years. Some great shops are Archestratus Books & Foods, Burson and Reynolds, Lockwood and Word Bookstore. Lots more in between to discover. Go to The Meat Hook for great local groceries and see the fanastic view from Transmitter Park!
Other wonderful restaurants, bars and cafes nearby in no particular order: Crema Coffee, Ovenly, Dar 525, Edy’s Grocer, Taqueria La Nortena for Al Pastor nachos & Acapulco Deli for Huaraches, Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop and Naked Dog,
To finish, just a few places that remind me of old school West Village…
Ottomanelli & Sons Italian Butcher
La Bonbonniere Diner
John’s Bleecker Street
St. Luke in the Fields Garden
Abingdon Square Park
Porto Rico Importing Co Coffee
Mercer St Books & Records
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many shout outs! I wouldn’t be where I am without the incredible guidance of so many other women entrepreneurs who came before me — who paved the way and showed me that this life is not only possible, but attainable. I wish I could list them all here but there wouldn’t be space!
I owe a lot to Shanna Tyler, a brand coach, without whom I wouldn’t have met a large portion of my existing network or advanced in my business as strategically as I have since working with her. I also owe a lot to Emily Merrell and her truly incredible networking company, Six Degrees Society, another space in which I was lucky to meet many of the women in my current network.
There are also women who have given me the gift of access to professional opportunities: Adriana Urbina, an amazing chef & consultant, who took a chance on me as a sous chef right out of culinary school. Also Diana Davis, a fellow photographer and business coach for creatives, who has been generous in sharing aligned clients with me as an associate photographer. Finally Alison Gilbert, founder of The Big Whisper, who has both guided me and trusted me in numerous, invaluable ways.
In my experience, the more broad, healthy and supportive my network is, the more successful I am, so I try to give back to my community where ever and whenever I can, and also to pass on that same level of support and encouragement to other aspiring female entrepreneurs. Last year I ran a show on my IG TV dedicated to this purpose called The Art of Starting. It’s on a hiatus but I hope to bring it back in the future.
Photo Credits: The Studio by Micole Photos of me by Erin Dwyer Photography