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Meet Sami Udell of Wholesam in Culver City, West Hollywood and Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sami Udell.

Sami, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I graduated college with a degree in advertising, having little clue what I wanted to do with my life. I got a job doing marketing for a tech company. I felt miserable.

I visited my older brother in LA and practically never left. LA made me feel alive and inspired. I always loved healthy food and wellness and LA felt like a place where it was all happening!

I got a job at Essential Living Foods doing sales but at least, I was on the right track, in the wellness industry.

On the side, I would cater gigs. I barely knew how to cook, but I would do it for very low prices. I catered a networking party for my older brother. He had a bunch of people from the music industry over, about 50 people. The most people I had ever cooked for before this was probably five. Ludacris’ old personal assistant was at the party and said it was the best meal he’s had in ten years. He said he had to connect me to Ludacris.

Ludacris called me himself and I ended up cooking for him one weekend. I felt so alive. I had no idea what I was doing but for the first time in my life, I felt inspired to figure it out. Ludacris hired me to be his personal chef.

During the months he wasn’t in LA, I got a job at a vegan restaurant to start learning techniques and knife skills.

I worked at the restaurant for about 6 months and got picked on a lot. I wasn’t fast in the kitchen and I did not know how to do a lot. But, I knew I could figure anything out.

I decided I wanted a food truck. I always wanted my own business and this felt like the perfect opportunity. I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money. I raised my goal in less than 24 hours and I realized how many people believe in me. I was now on a journey to create my own food truck called WholeSam. I wanted to bring healthy food to the streets of LA.

As my food truck started to grow, so did my personal chef business.

In the last year, I have cooked full time for DeMarcus Cousins (NBA player), 2 Chainz, Ludacris, Harvey Levin, Kevin Durant, etc. I am about to release my first ebook. I currently cook full time for DeMarcus Cousins and work on my food truck sometimes as well. I have a team running my food truck and they’re amazing!

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 has been so hard!

Some of the struggles are that I feel like I do not know enough about the food industry. I have this deep desire to keep learning, but I am already so far into my own company, it feels like backtracking. I learn a lot from cooking with friends and talking to chefs at restaurants.

It’s very hard to manage people. This is my first time managing employees in any capacity and I feel I am very nice and it’s hard for me to set boundaries to be an amazing leader. I’ve had a lot of employees leave the company, but they often go on to do bigger and better things and I am genuinely so proud of some of my previous employees!

Owning a business can feel very lonely. I work 24/7, I no longer have a social life like I used to.

The food truck itself is always a struggle, from busted engines, flat tires, broken generators, etc., etc., etc. The food truck has broken down when we need it for events, even weddings!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am known for making delicious food that is also good for you! In the personal chef world, I am known for making your favorite classics e.g. pizza, chicken wings, pancakes, etc. but healthier versions! My food truck is known for making it easy to be healthy and be a foodie at the same time. Living a healthy lifestyle also means enjoying your life and in the food truck world, my food truck is different because we serve fresh, everything from scratch, delicious bowls, salads and sandwiches in an industry run by greasy and fried foods.

I am proud of sticking to my values of serving homemade food even though the industry promotes unhealthy meals. It would have been very easy to switch and say “ok we will serve chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, pizza” – I know we would make more money because the market is bigger, but that is not my vision. I am proud of sticking to my vision. I am also proud of running two companies. A lot of people have seen my life from the outside and see how easy being a personal chef is for me. I love the farmers market, it is an easy business model to understand. There’s not as much risk because my clients reimburse me for my groceries. The food truck life is very different. Every cost adds up quick, it’s a hustle to find customers, but I am proud of building both companies, and not giving up on my food truck. I am known for making wholesome food with lots of explosive flavors.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was very social. I loved hanging with friends. I always like school. I did not know how to cook until I was about 21. I went to college at the University of Colorado, I love to ski, hike, be in nature, camping, traveling. I was always outgoing and liked to play sports. I was a cheerleader in high school. I was good at school, good with friends, loved my family, had a lot of passion, but I never had a passion or a purpose. I never thought I would have something that would make me excited to wake up in the morning.

Pricing:

  • Sandwiches $12
  • Bowls/Salads $12.50
  • Truffle Sweet Potato chips and guacamole $5

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. mario

    April 17, 2018 at 03:17

    Yesss! Sami’s food is the best! Love her food truck and all her bomb recipes!

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