I'm a 26-yr-old professional chef, business & culinary strategist, and entrepreneur based in NYC. I run my own culinary consulting firm, Jenny Dorsey Culinary Consulting (jennydorseyconsulting.com) specializing in menu R&D and business strategy for all types of culinary businesses. I am also the Co-Founder and Executive Chef of a popular dinner tasting restaurant in NYC named I Forgot It's Wednesday (iforgotitswednesday.com). My two businesses have been featured in the Business Insider, Thrillist, Village Voice, The Huffington Post, etc. as well as on Oxygen and Food Network. I hold a B.A. in Finance from the University of Washington, a Diploma of Culinary Arts from the Institute of Culinary Education and was an MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School.
Do you have hobbies? What are they? Is it important to take “time off” and focus on other things such as friends, family, hobbies etc.? What do you think of the stereotype that entrepreneurs are workaholics?
I am an amateur potter and make the ceramics for I Forgot It’s Wednesday as well as for food styling / photography. I love working with my hands (of course) but needed an outlet for my creativity that didn’t have high “expectations”, if you will – pottery was the perfect way for me to relax, unwind for 3-4 hours and produce something tangible that I could feel good about but not judge myself for. I also think having a custom-made plate or bowl with your food makes that dish so much more special, so it makes me feel I am adding another layer of complexity to the food I do create.
Is there one “rookie mistake” that new entrepreneurs keep on making? What is it? Did it happen to you?
Not asking for more money. I was guilty of this because I suffered from imposter syndrome. I don’t have decades of experience in the food & beverage industry, so I always felt I wasn’t “good enough”. That, combined with some petty commentary from people I knew in the industry, made me feel I couldn’t charge a premium for my services despite how much value I was adding to my clients’ businesses. I didn’t assert myself during prospecting meetings and danced around the topic of pay. It took me months to up my pricing, a few more months to break out of an “hourly” model (the worst type of pricing model!), and even a few more months to make a proper ratecard with non-negotiable rates. I have had little to no pushback during this process because my clients see how much work I put in for them - now I wish I had done it sooner.
Success means: living the life you want, how you want it, without worrying about the confines of others’ judgment (real or perceived).
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is: being able to challenge yourself everyday. Complacency is a frame of mind.
You can’t run a business without: admitting you don’t know it all and being ready to put your head down, work hard and learn.
In the next 10 years I wish to be: retired! Haha. I’d like to be running a successful venture-backed business (working on launching that this year) as well as being a motivational speaker. Hopefully I’ll also have 1-2 children and 2-3 dogs and keep my 1 husband.
What is failure? Do you think it’s a crucial step to success?
Failure is required for success. If you have never failed at anything, you’ve probably never been successful at anything either. I think about that all the time. I’ve failed in so many ways, from being fired to flunking classes to losing TV competitions, and it taught me a lot of lessons about how our unconscious thoughts will seep through in actions until you acknowledge them and take the necessary steps to change your life and worldview. To me, failure is a way to re-prioritize and re-evaluate where you are headed, why you're going there, and how you should view the journey.
What is your proudest accomplishment in 2016? What’s the biggest goal for 2017?
I’m proud of a lot of “things” that happened in 2016 – I won Beat Bobby Flay, I was featured on Oxygen Network, Huffington Post, Bustle, and various other outlets, my food was included in Harper's Bazaar, I formally incorporated my consulting business and made my first hire, my dinner series I Forgot It’s Wednesday was written up as a Top 10 in NYC, etc. – but the most important accomplishment I made was learning to listen better. This year I was so “busy”, I didn't bother to prioritize my business. I complained so much, I got flustered easily, I became caught up in social media and envied others, and I lost the core connections I really wanted because I wasn’t listening to the people I loved or even the people I was meeting and networking with. In the last few months I’ve made a conscious decision to shut up and start listening more, and it’s opened my eyes to the awesome people I choose to be around and revitalized my sense of passion for what I do and the world at large.