BTB East Entrepreneur Showcase: Chef Ladonte Cooper!

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I met Chef Ladonte Cooper a few years ago when a popular nightspot in Richmond had closed. His culinary flare had been the best part of the business and I knew that it would be a very short time before he was adding “flavor” to another restaurant. I was right.

Chef Cooper will return to the “Behind the Business – East” Conference as a panelist to share his successes and challenges of being a chef. Check him out!

Tell us about your business.  If you want, share a little about your professional background before becoming an entrepreneur. I have over 20 years’ experience in corporate, casual, fine dining and 13 years as a personal chef. Before I decided to become a personal chef, I worked in different aspect of the restaurant industry. But I started to find out that there was something missing with my cooking. I felt like there was more of an essence that was missing in my cooking. I was born in Frankfurt Germany and both my mother and father were 1st sergeants in the military. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and came to Richmond when I was about 10 years old. 

What inspires you to do what you do?  What inspired me to become a chef was my mother and grandmother. My grandmother was born in Sicily and my great grandfather was a shoe maker, pattern maker and my grandmother a chef and house wife. My best times growing up as a kid was remembering the smells of different thing being cooked when my mother would come home and cook for me and my father and when I would visit my grandmother. the fresh smells of sauces fresh breads and pastas being made I missed going up as a kid. Being I was raised military my mother was very strict on me. And she taught me to be strong and fend for myself. And she told me u want to be a chef then here from now on you cook for yourself. Thus, came my passion for cooking. When everyone was outside I was inside the kitchen cooking with my mother aunts and grandmother. My inspiration behind what I do are the key values I’ve learned as a kid. Wherever there was good food, there was always great conversation. Food to me is very powerful it has an amazing way of bringing people together. I felt like those values growing up were missing into today's society with all this technology now. So, I decided to start my own personal chef service to show people the passion behind cooking and using my skills to bring people together over a great rustic home meal. since I have been working as a personal chef people have inspired me to become more open as a chef and listen. When I am cooking in my clients’ homes, I am not only a personal chef. I am a friend, a mentor, a therapist and problem solver. We say that business is a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Knowing this as a seasoned entrepreneur, what would you tell yourself as a young entrepreneur?  I would tell myself to keep focused and
push hard even at an early age and travel more.

What’s next for you as it relates to your business?  What’s next? I’m consulting a restaurant called “Good Tymes” in Richmond, VA that will feature an international comfort food menu. The menu will have southern, Italian, French Asian and Latin influences, all from my personal experiences growing up as an inspiring chef. I am also continuing my education with Escoffier Culinary Arts to become a certified culinary instructor. I am also continuing my studies to be a Master Certified Chef. Never stop learning!

You can find Chef Cooper on Facebook at Heartnsoulchef29. Be sure to come out to meet him on February 10, 2018 in Richmond.

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