August’s Entrepreneur Spotlight: FlavaCooks

If you know anything about the restaurant and food industry, you know it’s one of the hardest businesses to break into and succeed (aside from the show biz) and many of the business owners that start their own restaurants, catering services or food related company, fall short of success between 2 and 1/2 and 5 years.  Yet, when you’re on fire for what you do and everything you create is ignited with your passion, your success and stamina will range far longer than any statistic or obstacle ahead.

Chef Marlene, founder and creator of FlavaCooks, is perhaps one of the most under recognized Chefs in the Los Angeles area, despite her years of service and loyal customer base.

Born and raised in Costa Rica , Chef Marlene found her passion for cooking at young age, learning everything she could about food preparation and flavoring from her Jamaican grandmother.  It wasn’t until Marlene was a young adult that she came to the US wanting to learn more about cooking, that she found herself in Brooklyn, NY, a place she considered to be “the melting pot of worldwide  cuisine “.  But New York would be just another launching pad to her next destination.  Chef Marlene would later find herself in Los Angeles, CA, with find a thriving Creole/Cajun community.

“I consider myself very fortunate to have learned almost everything I know about food and food preparation from my Grandmother, that is where the core of my knowledge comes from, but as a lifetime learner I acquired valuable techniques and methods which I then incorporated to my basic knowledge.” And after careful consideration and research, Chef Marlene decided to merge together the two cuisines to create her Creole/ Caribbean concept.   Once she had the idea and skills, she needed the name.  She’s tossed around and tweaked the name over the past couple of decades, but has found a unique sound in FlavaCooks.

Chef Marlene has been cooking up flava for 26 years, and many of those she has spent in Los Angeles.  It wasn’t too long ago, after giving the Hollywood Farmer’s Market 18 years of her food service, that Chef Marlene decided to spread her wings a little further.  Earlier this year, Marlene published her first e-CookBook titled Chef Marlene is Cooking With Flava and it made #39 and #40 on Amazon’s best seller’s list.  She’s been revitalizing her business strategies and pairing her love for cooking with her love for writing.  But is always hasn’t been easy or successful.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs face many ups and downs and at times, it can feel like more downs than ups.  Chef Marlene h

as found a way to channel all her energy into what she loves, rather than focusing on the obstacles that lie ahead.  “I don’t believe in working for money as the primary reason in my business, strange though that may seem – there is an underlying reason I work – it is because during the process of preparing – I hold one image in mind – which is the customers reaction to my food – that smile, the nod, the thumbs up I get after the first bite – that’s what it is all about.”  As far as obstacles are concerned, the most recent hurdle Marlene has had to face is marketing.  Much of today’s marketing is done through social media networking tools where business owners can engage with real customers in real-time.  And this can be a daunting task when your passion isn’t online or on the computer.  But, nevertheless, Chef Marlene is continuing to push her way along.

Chef Marlene is always striving to do more with her dishes and make the FlavaCooks name more known and more in demand.  She has a few projects in the works, much of which she is staying mum about.  But all that she had done and given are largely in part due to those that have worked with and for her, have supported and purchased from her.  “There are besides myself, two groups of people who fuel my efforts to bring the bacon home, number one is my customers; and number two my workers – I learned a long time ago, that regardless of how good my food may be – without the help and participation of these people, I would not accomplish much.”

You can find Chef Marlene on:

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