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Meet Kyndra McCrary of Ooh La La Catering in Downtown Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kyndra McCrary.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Almost 9 years ago I sat in my condo and randomly said to some friends…”I want to go to Culinary School”. Mind you I had just finished a degree in Christian Counseling and truly loved my career of choice as a counselor but being someone who was always designated to cook a meal at some event or family gathering I realized how much I actually cooked and loved it. With my counseling degree I was determined to start a non-profit in the inner city geared toward troubled adolescence (because that was my past and I wanted to give back and help). In order to start the non-profit, I needed a career where I could work for myself and try to meet people along the way that would want to be a part of my mission. I went to culinary school, worked at the Sunset Tower Hotel and The Beverly Hills Hotel and then felt I had learned what I needed to know to start on my own personal culinary journey. It was then I started my catering business “Ooh La La Catering”. It’s been a crazy ride along the way with lots of ups but also a lot of downs. I am still figuring things out as I go but it’s been encouraging to reflect on where I started (myself and friend from culinary school cooking out of my apartment) to now having a full staff and beautiful kitchen in downtown la!

Also the reason I chose the name Ooh La La is because of my grandmother. She is from Panama and has a lovely Panamanian accent! We lived with my grandmother growing up and I remember always hearing her say “Ooh La La” in her lovely accent! She would say Ooh La La when she had a gift she loved, an experience that moved her or some great food! I wanted to provide my customers with the same joy that I got when hearing my grandma say Ooh La La. Every time I say it or hear people say it puts a smile on my face because it makes me think of her!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Most definitely NOT! I went into this industry wet behind the ears and had no experience as a manager in any former job nor any close friends or family with their own business who could guide and direct me. I made a LOT of mistakes! Learning how to manage a team was very difficult. Some practical things that were hard were learning how to price out my menu, market myself, network etc. I literally had no clue what I was doing. I think overall just being naive about so many things caused some struggles along the way but without those struggles I would not be who I am today! I definitely still have growing to do but I have come a very long way!

Please tell us about Ooh La La Catering.
I am a caterer. I am a chef. It’s funny because a lot of people ask what is my “specialty”. And I have always had a hard time with that answer. I never wanted to be stigmatized or put into a category of making 1 type of food. I truly wanted to be known for being able to make any food from any background and it be as authentic as if someone’s mother or grandmother prepared it (or Dad’s or Grandpa’s lol…I won’t leave them out).

So I guess you can say I am known for authentically preparing foods from all backgrounds. I cook from the soul. Food when prepared with love is really truly so different than anything else. You can taste the passion.

There are literally TONS of chef’s and restaurants and catering businesses etc in Los Angeles. It is truly hard to stand apart because so many have their own unique way of presenting their passion. I would say that along with the food I like to create an experience for people. The food is the icing on the cake but I want people to remember the entire process of dining with my company. I am not just a chef because it’s popular. With all the cooking shows these days, being a chef has been glamorized. It’s not always a glamorous job. I believe my passion and ability to blend flavors that people don’t expect along with the love that goes into it is what sets me and my company apart. People truly notice the difference.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have gotten a mentor. Someone who had been in the game for a while and sought advice and wisdom from them. I maybe would have worked a little longer in the industry before starting my own company so that I could gain more experience. I think the biggest thing though is I would have been more patient. I was much like Gordon Ramsey on Hell’s Kitchen in the beginning. I hate admitting this but I was so impatient and lost some good staff members because I did not know how to deal with people very well which is interesting being that I have a Bachelors in counseling!

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Image Credit:
Josh Premanko; Jason Beals; Jazz Kalfayan

1 Comment

  1. Cindi

    April 3, 2017 at 16:55

    Chef Kyndra is a dream. Her food is just as wonderful as she is and her attention to detail is exceptional. Oh, and don’t miss the Red Velvet cupcakes!

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