We had the good fortune of connecting with Terrence Gatlin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Terrence, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Some of us have experienced or observed others getting up and going to work and dreading it. I never liked the idea of working for someone but knew I had to make a living. So being able to do something I’m passionate about that would allow me to make my own schedule and profit from it made sense. I’ve always enjoyed entertaining and cooking for my friends and family and would often be asked Why don’t I start my own catering business? After contemplating for some time, I finally decided to make my hobby a full time venture.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What sets me apart from others in my field is my versatility. Most chefs have a set menu but I offer something new each week with my most popular dishes frequently revisiting the menu. I’m proud of the success I’ve experienced thus far. The rapport I’ve built with my clients and the constant referrals they send my way. It feels good to know my dining experience is enjoyable! I take pride in my brand. The last job I worked was in October of 2016. It was a non profit organization in Century City. I was let go on my birthday. For most people that would have felt like a setback, but for me it was the push I needed to get started on a goal I had been wanting to pursue for years. I didn’t know what step to take first nor whether or not I’d be successful. But I was ready for this new journey. I started doing my research to find out what documentation I would need to start my own business legally as well as who to market to and how to promote my business. After careful consideration of all the above 60 days later I was ready to get my catering business off the ground. I started by making lunches ; like gourmet deli sandwiches soups and salads. I would market to hair salons barbershops and teachers. Soon after my clientele expanded. I started catering lunch for students and teachers at the local elementary schools, and high schools. From there I began cooking my infamous wings in the snack bar at the park my kids played sports at. After the first year I was catering events, doing pop ups, and food festivals etc…. Being a wife a mother of 4 and juggling my own business has it’s challenges. Not to mention being in the middle of a Pandemic. Due to COVID-19 I haven’t been able to do my pop ups, food festivals, and private events have slowed down too. These challenges haven’t stopped my momentum. I still cook a few days out the week(Taco Tuesday, Fish fry Fridays, Brunch Saturdays & Sunday dinner) and sell plates and my faithful customers come support. I’ve gotten a lot more clientele since the Pandemic and look forward to being able to do more catering events once it’s safe. I’ve learned a lot about time management and the level of professionalism that’s expected dealing with a variety of clients. Go out of your way to make sure your clients are satisfied. My motto is “Come experience food made with love”- so from set up to clean up I make it my goal to do everything with Love! My brand is my identifying mark so when it’s mentioned I always want it to leave a good taste in your mouth. It’s my mission for anyone doing business with me to have a memorable experience.
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?
Most of my friends are huge foodies like myself so we live for a good meal! I’d definitely take them to Killer Shrimp in Marina Del Rey with a nice view of the marina. That has to be my favorite restaurant! The ambience, the view, the food, and the drinks are everything! For a good burger we’d visit the original Tommy’s on Beverly & Rampart. The BEST chili cheese burgers in town. We’d have to book a sip n paint too. You can’t go wrong going Downtown to LA. LIVE there’s plenty to see and eat. Calo Kitchen + Tequila in El Segundo’s drinks are to die for! So yummy… Leimert park is an entire vibe! Especially on Sunday’s, lots of food vendors and a smoking hot Salsa dancing social. I live for Brunch so I’d most definitely take them to the Odyssey in Granada Hills or The Warehouse in Marina Del Rey for Brunch and unlimited mimosas. Every one loves visiting the beach when in L.A so I’d take them to Venice Beach or Santa Monica then head over to Teddy’s red tacos for some off the chain Birria tacos. Lastly would be a dining experience with myself “Brown Sugah’s Cafe” It’s the music, complimentary cocktails and the food made with Love for me! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Without a doubt I dedicate my shout out to my husband and 4 children. Although many have supported my vision,my family have been my biggest fans! They inspire me to reach heights I didn’t think were possible. I appreciate their consistent honesty and constant encouragement. Most importantly they assist me. My sous chefs. It’s a family business! Growing up being in the kitchen with Mom watching her cook and entertain played a huge role in me pursuing my goal to be a personal chef/caterer. I never had professional training but I learned from the best, Mommy!