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Meet Roderick Johnson, II of An’Des Catering in South Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roderick Johnson, II.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Roderick. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My journey to An’Des Catering started in my grandmother’s kitchen at the age of six, right around the time she told me that my hands were gifted. As a child, I would sit in the kitchen and watch my grandmother and mother (Sharon S. Helms-Elliseau) cook for Sunday dinners and family gatherings.

After my grandmother passed, cooking was a way that I could still feel close and connected to her; and being the oldest of four siblings and raised by a single mother, learning how to cook helped me help my family. I started cooking with my aunt and uncle in junior high school with their catering business. In high school, I got my first taste at a career in cooking when I started working at Disneyland. When I graduated high school, I continued cooking and worked for several local restaurants while attending LA Trade Tech. In my early 20’s, I stopped attending school and decided to start my first catering business SouthernComfortFoodServices, doing small catering gigs for family and close friends.

In my later 20’s while still working, I decided I would expand my catering business to tap into other demographics and markets. I continued to maintain a job to pay bills and in 2016, I left my job at Fox Studios as a Chef de Partie and decided I would continue expanding my business and go back to Trade Tech to finish my degree. During my second go-around at school I had the fortunate opportunity to be mentored by Chef Steven Kasmar and served as Vice President and then President of the Culinary Arts and Baking Club. While serving in leadership we started a food service, packing bag lunches and toiletries for the homeless and less fortunate on Skid-Row. The Culinary Club was awarded the Distinguished Charitable Award for our service to the community. Since then I’ve completed school and changed the name of my business to its current name An’Des, in honor of my grandmother Edna (An’Des is Edna backwards).

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road, but I think any road worth taking won’t always be smooth. The food and hospitality industries are extremely competitive, and as an African-American entrepreneur from South Los Angeles, I didn’t grow up having many people around me who ran their own business or were motivated to explore things outside of the “hood”. Food has become trendy and many people have moved away from the art and science of food to meet the demands of the food trends. I also think when you’re an entrepreneur in a saturated market, you are always looking for ways to reinvent yourself and be innovative; while trying to bring money in and get your food out there for the world to experience. Lastly, I believe my biggest struggle has been trying to stay motivated in a field where you have to deal with constant rejection, pressure and criticism about something I sincerely love and am passionate about, my food.

Please tell us about An’Des Catering.
An’Des Catering is “where culture and comfort meets inspiration and innovation”. My business provides catering services for various events and bi-monthly “Pop-Up” shops to highlight our new food and menu creations. An’Des’ specializes in cultural foods that bring a sense of home-like comfort to those experiencing it. While using cultural experiences to inspire people to try different foods, it pushes me to be more innovative and forward-thinking. Currently, we are known for many of our Southern dishes including our Three Cheese Baked Mac, Southern Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Pies. Our “Pop-Up” shops are known for our Taco Tuesday, Philly Cheese Friday and Chicken & Red Velvet Waffles.

I am most proud that An’Des has been able to sustain itself over the years, regardless of personal circumstances. I’m also proud that An’Des has been able to tap into a demographic and market. I’ve been told that people enjoy my food because of the experience I create with it. I think that’s what sets An’Des’ apart from other food business’, love is the secret ingredient.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I wouldn’t have wasted time procrastinating about starting An’Des. However, I wouldn’t change anything. I love and appreciate everything the way it is.

Pricing:

  • Full Catering Service – $1,500 and up
  • Pop-Ups – $10 to $25 per person
  • Meal Prep – $150 per week

Contact Info:

  • Phone: (747) 256-5907
  • Email: andessoulkitchencatering@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @andes_catering
  • Facebook: An’Des Catering

 

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