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Conversations with the Inspiring Jillian Fae Downing

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jillian Fae Downing.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Starting my business was a career change. I was working in the golf club manufacturing industry when I decided to pursue my passion for food and cooking and go to culinary school. In the beginning, I knew I was gaining knowledge and skills, but I was unsure what path I wanted to take career-wise. I also knew that working on a line in a restaurant was not something that I wanted to do. I knew I had a business mind-set with my corporate background and the drive and determination to create my own menus. It wasn’t until a culinary instructor mentioned a personal and private chef convention that she was attending and invited me along with her that I knew becoming a personal chef was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t even an option that I knew existed before opening my mind and attending. I attended several seminars after that and started the business right after I graduated culinary school. I’ve been building a client base and have been growing ever since.

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?
I started working my junior year of high school so that I could help support myself. After graduation, the thought of college didn’t even pass my mind once. No one in my family had ever attended college. I only knew to keep working so, that is what I did. After getting a decent job in research and development for a golf club company, I worked my way up to a good position and ended up staying there for ten years. During my time there though, I was able to attend culinary school, often full-time semesters and full-time work. It was a scheduling juggle, but I made it happen. I knew I was working towards a goal and that I would reach it if I put in the time. I graduated culinary school and started the business while still working for the golf company. Eventually, I knew that I wanted to take the business full time, but going from a steady hourly wage, weekly pay, full benefits, paid time-off, and job security to business ownership, in which there is none of that, can be terrifying. But, I made a big decision and took the leap. When I look back at this today, I’m proud that I didn’t let fear and self-doubt stop me. We all feel these things some of the time, sometimes too often. That’s okay. What is important is to not let them overpower your passion and motivation.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Jillian Fae Chef Services story. Tell us more about the business.
I am a personal chef and offer private events and in-home meal planning and preparation. Small weddings, birthdays, and holidays are some of the most popular occasions for dinner parties. My most popular event is a plated multiple course in-home dinner parties, but I do everything from small bite buffets which are great for showers or cocktail parties to dinner buffets for larger events. The best part of my service is that every menu is custom created based on each client’s desires. Unlike a full-service catering company, I focus on the food from start to finish; from the moment the menu is created, to the planning, the shopping, the preparation, the cooking, and finally, the plate.

My in-home meal planning and preparation is a service in which I prepare meals for the week, package, and leave warming instructions so that families can enjoy healthy home-cooked meals in the comfort of their own home whenever they please. I believe that eating dinner around the table can be one of the most important things for a family to do together. I’m proud to be able to say that I’m a part of making this a possibility for many families.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
There are always going to be naysayers and people that try to break you down. Often, we even do this to ourselves. Take the negativity and turn it around. Prove to those that doubt you that they are wrong and use it as fuel. Prove to yourself that you can do whatever you put your heart and mind into.

Pricing:

  • Average Dinner Party for 12- $100/person
  • Average Weekly Meals (5 dinners for 4)- $450/week

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Jillian Fae Downing

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