Interviewee: Chef Michelle Tampakis, Chef/Owner Whipped Pastry Boutique
Food Startup Help has reached out to several business owners, chefs, and experts in the food industry to see how they’re adjusting to the changes that coronavirus has imposed on this industry. We have conducted an interview in a Q&A format.
For today Food Startup Help is featuring Chef Michelle Tampakis. In this interview, she explains how she is responding to the pandemic and what she looks forward to once this hardship is behind us.
FOOD STARTUP HELP: What is happening in your business now given the COVID-19 virus? Are you still able to work?
Whipped Pastry Boutique shut down on March 19, 2020, as a result of the Coronavirus. All our hotel/restaurant/catering clients were canceling their orders one after another in rapid succession. Although our supermarket/specialty grocer customers were still placing orders, it was not sufficient to sustain the business.
A note from one of Michelle’s daughters via Facebook, when the virus forced the closure of small businesses, Michelle used up all the ingredients she had on hand at Whipped Pastry Boutique and baked to deliver goods to hospitals for doctors, nurses, hospital staff.
FOOD STARTUP HELP: What are your hopes for the near future in terms of your work?
I don't think the near future is something to count on. I believe it will take many months, maybe more than a year for our hotel/restaurant/catering clients to catch up. Travel will resume eventually, but all the events, (weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs, etc). that we had orders for will not suddenly all be rescheduled as soon as the shelter in place orders are lifted.
I think people will change the way they live for a few years after this experience, at least until the shock wears off. People who go weeks without work and have to make do with unemployment checks will be more frugal. There will be many restaurants that never re-open and those employees may have to transition to a new type of work since restaurant jobs will be fewer.
FOOD STARTUP HELP: If we had not had the virus change our lives, what had you been seeing as the most important food/beverage related trend(s) in what you do?
If the virus had not changed our lives, the trends I was seeing in my bakery were for more and more vegan items, with fewer ingredients.
FOOD STARTUP HELP: Is there anything else you would like to add, or for potential food industry professionals, entrepreneurs, students, and/or your customers to know.
Prospective entrepreneurs, students, etc. should expect to really understand the market they are getting into, pay close attention to the regulations (which are only getting stricter and more cumbersome with the Food Safety and Modernization Act) and have a real marketing plan in place, with money budgeted towards that.
Understanding how/why to keep customers coming back is critical. Listen to customer feedback and follow up on it. Don't take your customers for granted.
Follow along with Chef Michelle Tampakis on Instagram and her hashtags at @WhippedPastryBoutique and look for notifications of her online gluten-free courses on CourseHorse.com
Instagram #Whipped Pastry Boutique www.whippedpastryboutique.com
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FoodStartupHelp helps clients all over the country start new food-related businesses and turn around food operations that are experiencing challenging issues.