My Trip to San Francisco!
Let me just say this was a FIRST for me! A first of many things. It was my first time visiting San Francisco, first time traveling by myself, first time taking an Uber, first time to ever receive a fellowship, and first conference surrounded around people & food! Whew, so now that I’ve listed all of my “firsts” in a 3-day trip, let’s get into what this all meant to me.
I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco, and being a part of La Cocina’s Conference (2018) was the icing on the cake. I’ve never felt so wanted and needed in such an inviting setting as this.
I’ve always struggled with networking while holding Corporate titles but this was so different. I felt more comfortable mixing and mingling with like-minded folks who thirst for culinary and business knowledge like myself. Becoming an entrepreneur was one of the most exciting yet scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve faced many challenges in life. One being going back to college with a 2 year old as a single parent. Some said it couldn’t be done, & yet I still managed to earn an Associates and Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. But taking a leap of faith into entrepreneurship was totally different. Society, school, and even parents prepare kids for working a job, not so much being their own boss. After years of working in a corporate setting, I realized very soon that I just couldn’t do this for the rest of my life. And from there, my passion for baking began. I would get off work and bake for people to satisfy their sweet tooth; little did they know, I was satisfying myself! I was relieving all of my built up stress in a dessert, lol. You may be asking yourself how does this story ties into the pressure of networking. Well, because I’d always go to these types of events to represent the company I worked for, never for me and what I loved. I never knew what to say, who to approach, what my elevator pitch would be, etc. So I’d find a seat and look around, waiting for someone to approach me. Now that my profession has changed, it’s someone easier to approach people and talk to them. I use the term “somewhat” because I still hesitate approaching groups of people, but once I fall in, I’m able to make people’s taste buds crave for KD’s NOLA Treats. Being in a setting like La Cocina allowed me to speak highly of myself, my city, and my business. It allowed me to listen to others ideas and receive feedback from questions.
Day 1: I missed my 6am flight and unfortunately missed the initial meet and greet. Once I arrived I took my first Uber to GitHub and saw some familiar faces (Tunde Wey & Tyler Sangermano).
The small bites were absolutely amazing. My favorite was one that included chick peas (forgive me for not remembering the name). There I met some really great people, like Olivia Teter. She was so welcoming and engaging in our stories. We hung out the days after as well; what a great person! I also met the owner of a Cupcake Business and got her to try a dessert I brought with me from home, “The OOWEE”, a Praline covered Blondie. She tasted and loved it. I had extras and passed them out to others, folks who had never tried praline, and they were asking for more, lol.
Day 2 was by far my favorite. The story telling was my favorite. I was touched and moved by Reem’s story. I was inspired by her passion for her nationality and culture, being unapologetically Arab. Her story helps to change the thoughts and ideas of her people, and I can’t be more proud of her for taking that stand. I loved the panel discussions. My favorite panel was Shakira’s with Tunde Wes, Tiffany about our Blackness. Each person’s message entailed was inspiring and uplifting. I took away some valuable information, one being to not second guess myself, my food or my prices. As a minority business owner, I’ve noticed that we get the most criticism on EVERYTHING! People are used to paying prices at white establishments without complaining but expect the cost of food from minorities to be extremely low. Instead of complying with this trend, I hold my head up high and am able to stand up for myself, by explaining to my customers the cost of high quality ingredients that goes into their “homemade food”. I speak with pride because I know that what I’m doing is not the norm anymore. Due to high demand, food must be produced at such a fast rate which causes most our food to include preservatives and other ingredients unheard of. Being able to explain to my customers exactly what’s in their food gives me a sense of pride and allows me to show ownership in why my prices are what they are.
Day 3: I took the Fruitvale Station tour to Oakland, CA and visited Reem’s establishment. We were greeted by friendly staff and allowed to sample some freshly baked bread. The first bite took me by surprise. The taste was different, the bread was warm and crispy. I couldn’t believe how satisfying and flavorful it was, full of herbs & seasonings.
I ventured off into the corner to explore the cookbooks. This one in particular catching my eye and attention: