Treisha Hall, Food Artist and owner of Ramelles Catering Services, is known to most as “The Chef in the Red Jacket”. However, if you take a look into her story, you will find that she is much more! Born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Treisha Hall is the product of a two parent home where she developed her work ethic through watching both her mother and father hold down respectable jobs and provide her with a fulfilling childhood. After giving birth to her son at age 16, Treisha moved to the U.S. to complete high school in South Florida and later went on to FAMU to study nursing and also had her daughter.
Now residing is Raleigh, North Carolina, Treisha is enjoying and embracing the amazing feeling she gets touching people through food each day. In 2008, she stepped out on a leap of faith and started her company Ramelles Catering Services. While working in the medical field Treisha would cook for her co workers and friends who would always praise her food. This is what sparked her to follow her passion for making people feel good through food.
We recently had the chance to speak with the owner of Ramelle Catering Services. See what she had to say about mistakes she’s learned from in business, how she stays motivated as a business owner, and a few tips she would suggest to anyone interested in the industry.
Deverone Gillespie: What do you find most challenging about what you do?
Treisha Hall: There are many challenges associated with the food industry. Let me be very candid! For me personally, I face the challenge of not being accepted by my fellow culinarians because I didn’t go to culinary school. It’s an area that over time my temperament towards it has subsided due to meeting so many phenomenal chefs who have been in my shoes. Chefs like my Nana (she’s my Nana in my head), Leah Chase of Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans who looked me sternly into my eyes and told me to keep doing what I was doing.
Deverone Gillespie: Out of all subjects out there why did you choose food?
Treisha Hall: So prior I mentioned that I went to college for Nursing and I spent 10 years in healthcare. But, food has always been an integral part of my life. My mom would always come home from work and cook dinner. Some of my fondest memories occured in the kitchen. Sitting at her feet and watching her prep the food, tasting and adjusting the seasoning or helping to set the table for dinner especially during Christmas time which is equivalent to Thanksgiving here in the US. While working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Broward General Medical Center in Florida, I would periodically do dishes for coworkers and friends who would constantly praise the meals and encourage me to do cooking. I would always laugh at them and shrug them off, but, as time went on the urge to cook and create meals increased. In 2008, I took a leap of faith and launched Ramelles Catering Services. I have never looked back. So in essence, food chose me!
Deverone Gillespie: What type of networking do you do that you feel helps your business?
Treisha Hall: With food, taste, smell and presentation is everything. When I first launched RCS, I would always do networking mixers enabling people to taste the food and get to know the person behind the creations. Food and personality goes hand in hand. People want to know the stories behind your meals. It helps with relatability as well as understanding flavor profiles. I’ve recently started doing pop up markets as well to network.
Deverone Gillespie: If someone was interested in breaking into your industry, what would be a few things you suggest?
Treisha Hall: Oh my goodness! There are so many things to suggest. The biggest for me is mentorship. Aligning with someone who’s been in the industry for a while; who has been there and done that. The lessons learned from talking with a mentor, or hands on experience with a mentor for me is invaluable. Never assume you know it all. I’m 9 years in and still call on an experienced person to bounce ideas or ask questions even if I know. It’s not to say you lack confidence, it’s to confirm your confidence. Learning about food costs, menu development, per person costs and so on is crucial to this industry. Luckily for me, my mentor now happens to be my hubby!
Deverone Gillespie: What mistake has given you the biggest lesson?
Treisha Hall: Wow! So, in my early days, I decided to take a friend a sample of a mac and cheese that I was perfecting. I told her that I was going to make a quick stop and come by her to drop off the sample. Did my stop to have an issue with my phone resolved and then went by her house. The next day in the evening I got a phone call from her. I was elated to answer to find out her thoughts on the mac and cheese. My joy quickly turned to tears as she informed me that she became ill as well as her mom after consuming the mac and cheese. Light bulb moment! The stop to take care of the issue with my phone left the product sitting in my car with no refrigeration. Needless to say not only am I anal (no pun intended) about proper cooling down of products, but also about the transporting of said product.
Deverone Gillespie: How do you avoid being complacent?
Treisha Hall: My hubby always says “You’re only as good as your last meal!” With that temperament, I constantly strive to be better. Let’s be clear, in this industry there will always be someone in wait to pick up where you fall. Everyday my goal is ensure that my clients’ experience with RCS is better than their last.
Deverone Gillespie: What are some tips for people interested in making money from their new idea and what are some realistic expectations?
Treisha Hall: The reality of the food industry is that yes you can potentially make good money, but it depends on your position. Working for a company as a prep cook, station cook, etc., your potential earning is median. At an executive chef or executive sous chef level, your potential earning greatly increases. On the other hand, if you’re a caterer or you decide to open a restaurant, you typically do not see a profit your first year. The reality is that you work long hours with minimal pay, but maximum rewards from the satisfaction of your clients/customers. When starting a restaurant for instance, in order to truly succeed the first year, you need to have capital for the year to pay vendors, staff and yourself. Usually every dime made in the first year goes right back into the restaurant. It is truly not an easy venture and just having an idea of a restaurant and not the capital to sustain it leads to closing in three months.
Deverone Gillespie: What other services do you offer and other projects you’re working on?
Treisha Hall: RCS is a full service catering company. We also offer RTG (ready to go) services which includes Personal Chef Services – Weekly Meal plans which are fully cooked meals. Menus are customized to the client’s needs and delivered to your door. Just reheat! Another RTG service is our program similar to Hello Fresh. With our recipe box, the protein is seasoned and produce prepped reducing your time in the kitchen by half. We also have RTG Jamaica which features all the Jamaican favorites delivered fully cooked to your door. Our latest project is our Signature Line which includes our infamous Jerk BBQ sauce, Guava BBQ sauce as well as Signature Punch (pineapple guava ginger punch). My goal is to have our Signature Line in a store near you.
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