2011 in review and 2012 looking forward

So it seems I slid right into 2012 without so much as a whisper of 2011 and all that it meant to me. This past year was such an important year for me, maybe I should pause and then take a moment to reflect on it all and talk a little bit about 2012..

To me, 2011 was one of the most memorable years of my life. It's the year that I completely flipped my life upside down to start a new career in the field I love. My year started as a bundle of nervous and excited energy as I handed in my resignation to Corporate America and put on a Chef's coat for the very first time. This was the easiest decision I ever made but the hardest thing I have ever done. I loved culinary school and quickly got caught up in kitchen life, learning anything and everything I could about what I was doing. Simply put, I felt like I had wasted my whole life up to this point not fully putting my all into anything and I wanted that to change. I lived, breathed, slept (and ate) food, trying to learn as much as I could. I was determined to do this right and it wasn't long before I felt like my life had a new sense of purpose and for the first time ever, I felt fulfilled with what I was doing.

However, it wasn't all sparkles and sunshine. While I was busy learning, I was watching my bank account dwindle with daily city living and culinary school tuition. I cut corners every which way I could to save pennies. I graduated from the culinary school program in May and with that certificate, wanted to start my own business. This was scary, mainly because I had so much to learn before I could do that. Calculating taxes? State Laws? How to advertise and find business? All new concepts for me. Fortunately, at this time I started hanging out a little more seriously with a certain burger fanatic who talked me off of that scary ledge more than a handful of times and was the first to interrupt me from my daily routine of freaking out over whether or not anyone would actually hire me with a joke or a laugh or a coffee break. He became my rock.

From there, The Skinny Beet just sort of happened organically and I can't even pinpoint when it all started. We never really talked about joining forces on the business front, it just sort of materialized. Maybe it was our natural rhythm in the kitchen or the realization that we had similar thoughts and feelings towards food and cooking style but it wasn't long before we were trying to come up with a name for our business and working to get the clients to roll in.

The beginning months were the toughest just because there was so much to learn and do. When you own your own business, you are the accounting, marketing, creative, customer service, decision maker and everything else in between. In this case, we were also meeting with clients, creating and pitching menus, shopping and cooking and to fit it all in, workdays started at 7 AM and ended around 11 PM and a full day off was (and still is) unheard of. To top it all off, I was barely making ends meet. Those couple of months were the hardest for me - no one warns you of how massive the learning curve is to start and maintain your own business.

It wasn't until this September that the learning curve narrowed a bit and we were finally able to settle into a routine. We still work on average 12-14 hour days but the majority of that is kitchen work now. I'm also happy to report that we currently have 5 regular clients and have catered numerous parties, dinners and luncheons and even a wedding, not to mention all of the classes that we teach. After all of this, I'm finally starting to get settled into this new life I created. I love that I learn more and more everyday and when I wake up, I have no idea what's in store for me. Though it wasn't easy, this was by far the best move for me and looking back, I'm proud of myself for having the confidence to do it. It's not always easy but it is always what I love doing and that's what is most important to me.

As I move into 2012, I'm really looking forward to this year. We're wiser and ready to grow our business, but we've found that it's also important to make sure to leave room for fun. You can check out the adventures of the Skinny Beet at our site www.TheSkinnyBeet.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime, I'm also maintaining things here at the Small Boston Kitchen. If you've been a long time reader, you may have noticed that I deviated from restaurant talk for the past couple of months and focused more on my recipes at home and for the most part, that will still carry on. Additionally, I had done restaurant reviews in the past and sort of put that on hold, wanting to focus more on honing my skills and since culinary school and working as a chef, I've noticed that my outlook on food and opinions have grown and changed with experience and I'm looking forward to sharing.

Additionally, and I can't say this enough, I couldn't have done any of this without an amazing family and a fantastic network of friends and not to mention my readers whose comments and emails have kept me going. Most importantly, I'd like to thank my boyfriend for just being an amazing person. Always knowing how to make me laugh so hard I cry and for surprising me with delicious cheeses, I couldn't have asked for a better person in my life or a better business partner.

Thank you to all and a very, happy New Year!


Boston Food Diary said...

100 times over-congrats!

Meghan said...

What an exciting year! Congrats on all of your accomplishments and best wishes for continued happiness!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

What a wonderful year, Katie! Congrats!

Karen said...

what a great year, congratulations to you!

Beth said...

I am so proud of you Kate. You have so much success ahead of you. I know that 2012 will be even more exciting!

Also, the new coats look awesome on you guys. :)

Mom said...

Congratulations Katie and Richard and all that "The Skinny Beet" represents....hard work, lots of love, and total pride in your accomplishments and successes. Cheers to you both and bring on 2012!! Best wishes and lots of love, Mom

P.S. Love your new Skinny Beet coats - they look awesome!!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see what 2012 brings to TheSkinnyBeat.

And yes, the new coats are great!


Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Congrats on such a big year. Sounds like you are killing it!

Michelle Collins said...

So happy for you. You're an inspiration!!

Jen said...

What an exciting year for you!


What an incredible year! So many brave, wonderful, positive and delicious changes. Congratulations and best wishes for a prosperous 2012!

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