Name: Chef Ricky Davis
Business/Location: South End Catering/Montclair, New Jersey
Specialty: We provide high-quality American cuisine with a southern accent made from the freshest and finest ingredients. We offer a customized catering service designed especially for small to mid-sized events as well as southern-inspired sweet and savory products which can be purchased on our website.
What’s your story?: My culinary journey was influenced by relatives and family friends. Both my grandfather and great grandfather owned restaurants in North Carolina — they made the best southern food! And our family friend, Ms. Lubell, made the most amazing pound cake. I use the same recipes today; although my Aunt Lear tells me that my pound cake is a “close second” to hers!
I was inspired to become a chef by my grandmother, who believed that the best food was made with love and from scratch. When I was 10, she caught me heating up a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and her reaction was priceless. I knew then that I wanted people to be comforted and satiated when they ate my food.
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs: Fail fast, learn from your mistakes, try again…repeat until you get it right
What do you wish you had known before you started your business?: I wish I had known how hard it would be to get financing as a startup, regardless of my personal income and credit score.
What’s your greatest challenge in your business and how are you overcoming it?: Growing my business while working a full-time corporate job has been my greatest challenge. I have learned to ask for help and not to try to do everything myself.
What are you most proud of about your business?: I am most proud that I have been in business since 2006. In late 2018, I launched an ecommerce site, shopchefricky.com, where I sell southern style sweet and savory items. Additionally, I have a meal delivery service (serving New Jersey, New York City, and Connecticut) that enables my clients to focus on their families and friends and not worry about trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
What do you love most about being a food entrepreneur?: I love how food brings people together — all cultures, races, and ages. A few months ago, my family was visiting from North Carolina, and we had dinner at Crispo in New York City. I ordered one of my favorite items on the menu, stuffed zucchini flowers. When the entree arrived, my stepmom recounted the story of how her mother would make the same dish. When I was growing up in North Carolina, I never had stuffed zucchini flowers but it goes to show how food is universal.