Michelle Maloney-Smart is an award-winning Executive Chef and the owner of Smart Meats and Journeys Cafè.
The former student of Alleyne Secondary School, who was a member of the Barbados culinary team and the Food Wine and Rum incubator last year, said she always knew she wanted to be a chef.
“I had a very keen interest in law from a very young age and begun my studies pursuing law. While studying for law exams I would cook on weekends and discovered that I had a hidden passion for it that was much stronger than my interest in law. So, at 19 years old I took up culinary studies and never looked back,” she said.
Maloney-Smart, who recently opened a new Cafe named Journeys at TEN Habitat’s co-working space in Wildey, said the decision to partner with the Director of Ten Habitat, Selwyn Cambridge, came after attending one of the sessions he facilitated with the Barbados Food Wine and Rum accelerator.
“I first got introduced to TEN Habitat and Selwyn while doing an accelerator programme last year with food and Rum Barbados, where Selwyn was the facilitator. Everyone in the class produced locally made food and beverage products and I was really amazed at what was possible in the short time we spent with TEN Habitat,” she said.
“While in the programme I was tasked with coming up with innovative ways of using my fellow entrepreneurs’ products and combining them in ways to create unique dishes to showcase the versatility of their product and what could be possible. That experience showed me how much more I could be doing to help others while helping my own business grow.
“I experienced firsthand TEN Habitat’s passion for supporting entrepreneurs in very different ways and I wanted to be part of that kind of support. I approached Selwyn about a café space with a difference, that would help culinary entrepreneurs do the impossible by creating the right building blocks for success and we decided to give it a test run and the rest is history. I named it Journeys because food has always been, for me, a way to take individuals on amazing journeys and this venture was going to do that,” she said.
Maloney-Smart said that her experience as an award-winning chef coupled with her experience in the food and beverage accelerator inspired her to want to create more market-ready products.
“By combining my experience and TEN Habitat’s business expertise, the idea is to hatch and launch more innovation in the food space and reveal to the public what Barbadian talent can truly create. Selwyn understands the ins and outs of business and TEN Habitat has a very creative way of thinking about business and how they support founders,” she said.
“After working with TEN Habitat and implementing some of their business ideas in my own business, Smart Meats, I saw the growth in less than a week. That kind of growth and opportunity is what I am happy to see other entrepreneurs experience. We are creating a culinary hub where persons come and gain the expertise as culinary entrepreneurs but also where the public gets taken on different culinary adventures. We need to start building better, stronger, more innovative food ventures.”
Maloney-Smart said that her company supports up and coming culinary entrepreneurs by offering product tasting and formulation to develop structure, stability and unique tastes, one-on-one food design coaching, food costing and pricing, basic food safety practices and training along with business and revenue modelling through TEN Habitat’s programming.
“When you look around the island there is always some new person selling food or creating some kind of food-based product. The challenge I saw and my time spent with TEN Habitat revealed that though many of these individuals might be talented cooks or even chefs there was a visible absence of the science behind food and culinary innovation supported by sound business growth principles. I myself was guilty of not having sufficient business structures to support my growth. I had to work hard to make those changes. Additionally, after starting my three businesses all in the culinary space, I realized that there was no one on the island that used their culinary expertise to assist other culinary entrepreneurs to build stronger food businesses. I believe this partnership is filling that gap but also providing innovators with a launch pad in the form of a café to do amazing things,” she said.
The Executive Chef and business owner said that since she started the culinary incubator with TEN Habitat, she has been able to provide consultations to food entrepreneurs.
“The first version of the incubator, which will run as a three-month programme, culminating with product features and placement on the café menu will begin in June of this year. We will announce the first call for participants in the coming weeks and the journey they will go through will move from product and customer experience design to branding, costing and business model design. We really want to see more sustainable innovation in the culinary space. These individuals get to benefit from the Café as a true launch pad for their own product and venture. The incubator is really a very hands on support system for individuals interested in getting into the food space,” she said. (Write Right PR Services)