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Meet Michelle Sallah of Petit Chou

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Sallah.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I worked as a cook and sous chef in restaurants for about 8 years in new york, Lake Tahoe, and Los Angeles. then I decided I wanted to work for myself – but the restaurant business is too expensive, complicated, and saturated. so I started offering my services as a private chef here in Los Angeles. I do everyday private chef work with regular weekly families, and I do dinner parties all over the city for a varied roster of clients, all of whom entertain beautifully.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It wasn’t a smooth road to becoming a private chef – restaurant work is both exhausting and exhilarating, it made it hard to leave and hard to stay. the transition to a different pace was difficult. it could be discouraging trying to find reliable clientele. but I kept putting myself out there, trying new things, and referrals led to more referrals – for dinner parties, for families who have me come weekly, even drop off meals.

It can be challenging pleasing all the various clients and adhering to their dietary needs. but it turned out, these are the kinds of challenges I love.

I also find it incredibly challenging to keep up any kind of social media presence – I work on my feet with all my senses, and I forget to take pictures, post things, keep everything updated and tantalizing!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the petit chou story. Tell us more about the business.
My private chef business is just me, cooking. I am not a full-service caterer (although I do larger events for specific clients on occasion). the dinner parties I cater are in home, and I have had clients with full professional kitchens and clients with tiny little spaces, all over Los Angeles. I love the challenge of making things work in new spaces, and I think my clients appreciate how flexible and enthusiastic I am.

My cooking is extremely versatile but I always tend toward market-based, California-style cuisine (generally using organic, local products).

I am very proud of my ability to provide excellent service – organized and clean, but also creative and elegant. I have so much fun designing menus based on my various clients’ tastes and restrictions. I am also becoming known for specializing in gluten free food, savory and sweet.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck and timing have so much to do with it! when I first started petit chou, I stumbled into a few different great people who became long-term clients. I also met another private chef who became somewhat of a mentor and eventually referred me clients as well. and from little lucky breaks like that, word of mouth grew my business.

I am not one of those entrepreneurs who says “yes” to everything because my time can be limited and it’s important to me to have balance and be smart about my income. BUT I have been lucky enough to have the option to exercise that judgment, and still, have enough work to support myself.

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