Have You Eaten Yet?

Chef Tarell Mcintosh: A Conversation from Sugarcane London

November 11, 2021 Kassata Bollman / Chef Tarell Mcintosh Episode 20
Have You Eaten Yet?
Chef Tarell Mcintosh: A Conversation from Sugarcane London
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Chef Tarell Mcintosh is the Chef & Owner of Sugarcane London.

Today We’ll Be Discussing:

  • Taking a chance: What It's Like To Bootstrap A Restaurant 
  • First Impressions: What It Takes To Get Customers Into That New Restaurant
  • Creating Culinary Opportunities For Children Of All Backgrounds
  • Connections: How Being Open And Honest Even In Your Most Vulnerable Moment Can Lead To Chance Encounters

[[MUSIC]]


I’M KASSATA BOLLMAN. 

TODAY MY GUEST IS CHEF TARELL MCINTOSH... OR AS MANY CALL HIM…. “CHEF TEE.”


HE JOINS US FROM LONDON….


WHERE...CURRENTLY….. HE’S THE CHEF & OWNER OF CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT SUGARCANE.


CHEF TEE HAS WORKED IN ALL TYPES OF PLACES OVER THE YEARS….FROM CAFES TO MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANTS.


BUT HIS DREAM…. WAS TO OWN A RESTAURANT…

HIS JOURNEY TO THAT DREAM STARTED WITH A PRIVATE CATERING BUSINESS…OUT OF HIS HOME…AND TODAY WE’LL HEAR ABOUT HIS PATH TO SUGAR CANE….ALL THE UPS AND DOWNS...THAT LED TO THIS PRESENT MOMENT.  


TODAY WE’LL BE DISCUSSING…. 


TAKING A CHANCE: WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BOOTSTRAP A RESTAURANT ………


FIRST IMPRESSIONS: WHAT IT TAKES TO GET CUSTOMERS INTO THAT NEW RESTAURANT……

CREATING CULINARY OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN OF ALL BACKGROUNDS…...AND……

CONNECTIONS: HOW BEING OPEN AND HONEST….. EVEN IN YOUR MOST VULNERABLE MOMENT…. CAN LEAD TO CHANCE ENCOUNTERS….


SO I’LL START BY ASKING…..AS WE ALWAYS DO….CHEF TEE…..

 “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?”......

NOW …….THIS COULD BE A MEAL FROM TODAY …..

 …...OR….. IT COULD BE …...THE LAST MEAL…. THAT YOU HAVE A REALLY GREAT MEMORY ABOUT…..IT COULD BE ONE FROM 10 YEARS AGO….. OR ANYTIME….ONE THAT TRULY RESONATED WITH YOU?

 

 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 






TAKING A CHANCE: WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BOOTSTRAP A RESTAURANT 


I WANT TO GO BACK IN TIME…. SO LISTENERS CAN FOLLOW YOUR PATH TO SUGARCANE…

AT THIS POINT...YOU’RE RUNNING A CATERING BUSINESS OUT OF YOUR HOME….YOU’RE DEVELOPING  RELATIONSHIPS WITH SUPPLIERS…….

AND THEN YOU SEE A BOARDED-UP SHOP …..

YOU KNOW ALMOST IMMEDIATELY…. THAT THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO OPEN YOUR OWN RESTAURANT…

TAKE ME BACK TO THE MOMENT YOU KNEW THIS SPACE WAS MEANT FOR YOU …...AND DESCRIBE THAT MOMENT FOR US….


[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]


SO….YOU GET INTO THE SPACE...AND CONSTRUCTION BEGINS….

AND NOT BY A TEAM THAT YOU HIRED….YOU….CHEF TEE…...ARE KNOCKING DOWN WALLS & WORKING ON PLUMBING….

THIS IS YOUR DREAM THAT YOU ARE LITERALLY BUILDING…


DESCRIBE WHAT A TYPICAL DAY WAS LIKE BACK WHEN SUGARCANE WAS UNDER CONSTRUCTION….


[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]


AND MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU HAD TO TRANSLATE YOUR VISION TO PAPER…. 

AND CREATE A MENU…..

SO AFTER BEING PHYSICALLY EXHAUSTED FROM THE BUILD OUT….THEN YOU HAVE TO SPARK THE CREATIVE SIDE OF YOUR MIND….


CHEF TEE AT THIS POINT…. ARE YOU RUNNING OFF PURE ADRENALINE?


TELL US ABOUT THE STEPS YOU TOOK…. TO CREATE YOUR MENU…. 


 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE PAST YOU’VE WORKED IN FINE DINING RESTAURANTS……

I READ AN ARTICLE WHERE YOU WERE QUOTED AS SAYING 

 

“IT WAS SO STRESSFUL, I REALLY JUST WANTED SOMETHING RELAXED”….

 

YOU WERE REFERRING TO…. HOW YOU WANTED YOUR RESTAURANT…. TO BE MORE RELAXED... 

 

AND …..I’D LOVE FOR YOU TO EXPAND ON THAT THOUGHT…

 

WHILE ALSO TAKING US BACK TO YOUR DAYS WORKING IN MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANTS….SO WE CAN UNDERSTAND THE STRESS THAT YOU DEALT WITH…… 

 

AND ALSO….. HOW THAT EXPERIENCE HELPED SHAPE YOU…..AND YOUR VISION…. FOR SUGARCANE….. 

 

 

 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: WHAT IT TAKES TO GET CUSTOMERS INTO THAT NEW RESTAURANT:

 

STARTING A RESTAURANT PRE COVID…. EVEN IN A GOOD YEAR WAS A CHALLENGE...YOU’RE TAKING A CHANCE….

 

STARTING A RESTAURANT AFTER MARCH 2020…. IS BEYOND CHALLENGING….

YOU ARE ENTERING THE UNKNOWN...THINGS CAN CHANGE AT ANY GIVEN TIME….YOU’RE DEALING WITH THE GOVERNMENT….CUSTOMER’S FEARS….YOUR STAFF’S FEARS……

 

AND CHEF TEE, YOU HAVE ANOTHER LEVEL OF UNKNOWN TO DEAL WITH…

YOU WERE QUOTED IN AN ARTICLE SAYING 

 

“CARIBBEAN CUISINE IS UNIQUE – YOU EITHER GET IT RIGHT…. OR YOU GET IT WRONG. IT TAKES A LOT FOR PEOPLE TO COME IN HERE….. AS A NEW COMPANY...WHEN IT’S NOT BURGERS OR PIZZAS.”

 

I’D LOVE FOR YOU TO EXPAND ON THAT IDEA….I THINK SOME PEOPLE MIGHT ASSUME….YOU’RE IN LONDON….A MAJOR CITY IN THE WORLD….WHO DOESN'T LOVE JERK CHICKEN? 

 

SO PLEASE  EXPLAIN THE ADDITIONAL HURDLES YOU FACE…. WHEN YOU’RE NOT JUST SERVING BURGERS & PIZZA….SO WE CAN BREAK DOWN THOSE ASSUMPTIONS…..AND EDUCATE LISTENERS….


[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]


WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR YOU TO GET NEW CUSTOMERS INTO YOUR NEW RESTAURANT IN 2021 ? …..

WHAT’S WORKING FOR YOU? WHAT’S NOT WORKING?

IS IT ALL SOCIAL MEDIA….. OR WORD OF MOUTH?

 

 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATING CULINARY OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN OF ALL BACKGROUNDS:

 

 

AFTER SPENDING TIME IN FOSTER CARE HOMES IN YOUR TEENS...YOU STARTED YOUR FIRST JOB…. WHEN YOU WERE 17.

YOU WORKED  AT A SMALL CAFÉ. 


FROM THERE YOU LEARNED HOW TO COOK….WORKED AT OTHER RESTAURANTS…

SAVED MONEY...RENTED A FLAT….YOU CREATED A LIFE OF PURPOSE.


NOW YOU  WANT TO GIVE OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE IN FOSTER CARE HOMES…. THAT SAME OPPORTUNITY…..AT YOUR RESTAURANT…

 

PLEASE EXPAND ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE OFFERING THESE TEENS AT SUGARCANE…... AND…. WHY THIS ALL MEANS SO MUCH TO YOU?

 

 

 

 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONNECTIONS: HOW BEING OPEN AND HONEST EVEN IN YOUR MOST VULNERABLE MOMENT CAN LEAD TO CHANCE ENCOUNTERS


RECENTLY CHEF JACKSON BOXER WROTE A REALLY HEART-FELT POST ON INSTAGRAM ABOUT YOU. 


I’M GOING TO READ PART OF IT:


“ABOUT 18 MONTHS AGO I NOTICED A NEW SPOT OPENED ROUND THE CORNER FROM ME….WITH A DISTINCTLY D-I-Y EDGE…. AND A BUSTLING ENERGY TO IT. 


I WATCHED THEM QUICKLY FIND THEIR FEET….GROW….AND….

BECAME MORE INTERESTED... IN THE ENTERPRISING FIGURE BEHIND IT….. CHEF T. 


WE GOT TALKING….AND FOUND OURSELVES FREQUENTLY LATE AT NIGHT….. ONLINE... RUMINATING OVER THE PROBLEMS….. AND CHALLENGES…. OF RUNNING KITCHENS…..LOOKING AFTER OUR PEOPLE…...NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC…. PREDICTING WHAT WAS TO COME.


I LOVE HIS FOOD...I LOVE HIS ENERGY…. I LOVE HIS COMMITMENT TO HIS TEAM…. MANY OF WHOM... HE TRAINS UP FROM ZERO PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT.”


**


THAT WAS A REALLY AMAZING ENDORSEMENT….HOW DID YOU FEEL THE FIRST TIME THAT YOU READ HIS POST?...... WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND?



 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU WROTE AN EQUALLY HEART-FELT POST ON INSTAGRAM ABOUT CHEF BOXER….BUT THE REASON I’M ABOUT TO READ PART OF IT….. IS BECAUSE THIS POST WAS EXTREMELY OPEN AND HONEST…...DURING A DIFFICULT TIME FOR YOU….IN FACT IT’S THE REASON THAT I ORIGINALLY…. REACHED OUT TO YOU…..


YOU SAID:


“I PLANNED TO CLOSE MY RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THIS MONTH ... AND I FREQUENTLY VISIT THIS IDEA….. THE LONGER WE GO ON…... BECAUSE IT IS JUST SUCH A HARD GIG.


I WONDER MORE AND MORE….. “WHAT TROUBLES WILL I FACE?”...... AND LESS AND LESS…. “WHO WILL I SERVE?”


UNBEKNOWNST TO YOU…..I REFLECT ON MY PERFORMANCE DAILY…... AND DESPITE WHAT I FEEL….. THE TRUTH IS….. THERE ISN’T MUCH WE REALLY GET WRONG. 


WE CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE…... AND I AM NOW…. OK WITH THAT…... BUT THE REALITY IS….. I JUST FEEL LIKE I’M DOING THIS ALONE.” 


**


CHEF TEE I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR BEING SO HONEST PUBLICLY….MOST PEOPLE DON’T DO THAT….YET MILLIONS OF PEOPLE FEEL EXACTLY LIKE YOU…. EVERY SINGLE DAY…

I’VE FELT LIKE YOU...WHICH IS WHY I REACHED OUT TO YOU….TO LET YOU KNOW THAT YOU’RE NOT ALONE…..


WHAT MADE YOU WRITE THIS POST? ….DID THE WORDS COME TO YOUR MIND IMMEDIATELY? TAKE US BACK TO THE MOMENT THAT YOU WROTE THIS...


[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 

 

RIGHT NOW THERE’S A RESTAURANT OWNER LISTENING….. WHO FEELS ALONE….THAT IS POSSIBLY…. THINKING ABOUT CLOSING THEIR RESTAURANT ….

OR THEY DON’T HAVE ANYONE TO TALK TO…. ABOUT THEIR STRESS….WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SAY TO THEM?

 

 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 

 


SYNCHRONICITIES



HAVE THERE EVER BEEN ANY SIGNS OR SYNCHRONICITIES IN YOUR LIFE…. THAT LED TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOU….. IN THIS INDUSTRY? ……. 




 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]

 

 
































TAKEAWAY:


CHEF TEE, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH US …....


I LIKE ENDING…. BY ASKING…. IF THERE’S ANY TAKEAWAY THAT YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE WITH LISTENERS…... THAT CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE THEIR LIVES….. 


IT COULD BE SOMETHING THAT WE JUST DISCUSSED, A PRO TIP…. OR GENERAL LIFE ADVICE THAT YOU LIVE BY ….…


 

 

[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]




AND CHEF TEE WHERE CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU  ?



[[TARELL DISCUSSES]]




OUTRO:


THANKS FOR LISTENING….AND IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY….... FOLLOW  “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?” ….WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS….



[[MUSIC]]





BOOTSTRAP A RESTAURANT
GETTING CUSTOMERS
CULINARY OPPORTUNITIES
BEING OPEN AND HONEST
SYNCHRONICITIES
TAKEAWAY