Today we’d like to introduce you to Julia LeRoy.
Julia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m from Detroit MI, raised in Georgia. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 04′ after realizing that I was much more interested in cooking dinner than doing my homework in high school. After that, I trained at two of the best Atlanta restaurants, Seeger’s and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead.
My first exec chef job was at the Bookhouse Pub, where I pioneered a Localvore Monday event. I was basically struggling to get the owners to let me cook the food I really wanted to cook, so we came up with a compromise. One night a week (Mondays), I could run a menu that reflected where I was in my culinary journey. I worked with local farms and artisans to come up with the menu. I really enjoyed that. It was kind of like doing a popup at my own restaurant.
From there, I ended up opening my own fried chicken stand called LeRoy’s Fried Chicken. That was my first attempt at being an entrepreneur. It was an interesting concept, I was trying to do high-brow fried chicken at a walk-up stand. We fried our chicken in local lard and sourced better quality chicken than our competitors. It was a really helpful learning experience for me.
Next, I was hired as chef du cuisine at Watershed on Peachtree. I really enjoyed working for chef Joe Truex, I learned a ton, and it was really exhilarating to be part of such a busy, successful team.
The only problem was I got really tired of feeding nameless faces. I craved connection, it’s so much easier to care when you know who you are feeding. I also craved a change of scenery. I felt stagnant. I realized that I was trapped inside the same four walls for 12 hours a day and I was getting bored. Becoming a private chef/caterer was the perfect solution to my problem. Now I get to work one on one with clients where I can focus more on nourishing them than worrying about profit margins, and I am in different kitchens talking to different people all the time.
So now I have my own business, it’s called Produce & Provide. I have different services available to meet my client’s needs. I have a weekly menu that is available to clients who would prefer drop off and reheat meals, I also cook for clients in their home, especially for private dinner parties. I also offer a bereavement meal service. Oh yeah, and I teach cooking classes too. Basically, if it involves cooking, I’m available!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Hahaha, smooth road. Not at all. A ton of things have gone wrong along the way. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn is to get out of my own way and to take responsibility for all those things that did go wrong.
This might sound all woo-woo, but I’ve done a ton of spiritual work on myself in the past couple of years, and I feel like it’s helped tremendously. It’s so hard to be successful in business if you haven’t worked through your past and gotten your mind and spirit right. I had to realize that what I do matters. How I think, how I behave, all these things create my perception of the world. Cultivating gratitude for all the things that go right and wrong matters.
And I’ve learned to be grateful for every hard-earned lesson because it’s helped me evolve to become who I am today. It’s all about growth. We are all on our own healing evolutionary journey. That’s one of the biggest reasons we are here.
“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence: but by the distance, they have traveled from the point where they started.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Please tell us about Produce and Provide.
Produce & Provide is a company that specializes in providing personalized service to create wholesome, nutritious meals that meet the needs of our clients. We offer:
– Weekly meal service (in home or delivery)
– Special event catering
– Congratulations & bereavement meals
I am very proud of our community engagement. Not only do we donate a meal for every meal sold to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, but we are also sustaining members of Wholesome Wave GA, an organization that enables access to fresh vegetables to Atlanta’s food insecure population.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
It’s all as it was meant to be, but if I could offer any advice for anyone thinking of starting their own company, I would recommend doing your research. And not just on your area of expertise. As a startup, you have to wear a lot of hats. I knew nothing about accounting, marketing, licensing, website hosting, etc… But these are all things I’ve had to figure out.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and don’t be afraid to dig in and double check the advice you are given.
And once you have done your homework: always, always, follow your gut.
- Website: produceandprovide.com
- Phone: 404-312-4386
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: produceandprovide
- Facebook: Chef Julia LeRoy