We had the good fortune of connecting with Jillian Fae Downing and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jillian Fae, what’s your startup story? How did you start your business?
I have always had a passion for food and cooking and knew by a young age that I wanted to pursue it somehow as a career. However, life takes turns and I ended up working a full-time job in research and development for a golf club manufacturer. After many years there, I finally decided it was time to pursue my passion, so I went to culinary school. I knew that the possibility of me getting an executive chef position at a restaurant was very unlikely and I felt I didn’t have the time to start at the bottom and work my way up, so I explored and researched other options. After attending a personal and private chef convention, I knew right away, that was the path I was going to take. I had a pretty solid business mindset after coordinating a department of a corporation for ten years and felt confident that I could start my own business. While starting the business, I still worked full-time at the golf company. Eventually, it went to part-time and finally, I took the leap into operating my business full time. The first steps I took in starting the business was creating a website and social media accounts. I feel these are crucial in todays marketing world. I also became a member at several organizations that refer and list personal and private chefs and that is where I landed my first client. From that point, I continued to improve my website and social media and now a simple Google search is where most of my clients find me.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
For every client, I am the one directly working with them the whole time. From the initial contact, to creating the menu, to the last course served, I am there seeing things through every step of the way. I believe this is something that sets me apart. I am proud of how far I have come and always look back to remind myself of that. This also inspires me to keep improving so that years from today, I will look back and see again, how far I have come from this point. It is always possible to improve on the creativity and quality of food and service and that is exciting to me. There is always something new to learn. Getting here was not easy and it is not going to be easy to get where I am going but if it were easy, it probably would not be worth striving for. There are many people who don’t ever imagine having a chef for their events as their minds automatically turn to conventional caterers. I want to let people know that there are other options and having a private event chef is one of them. I want to be known as a tried and true go-to source for this. But ultimately, I want to be known as the event chef that creates great food that guests will never forget.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a friend were visiting from out of the area, I would try to make it a point to venture outside of the city at least a couple days. If in season, catching a ball game at Petco park is crucial. A concert at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater with a stop for eats at Tacos el Gordo first would need to happen. You really cannot go wrong with some brewery visits and we all know there are plenty to choose from. Stone Brewing either at Liberty Station or up in Escondido would be a must stop, even if only for the ambiance. I’d even take them about 50 minutes up the 15 to visit Temecula Wine Country for some wine tasting and dinner in Old Town Temecula. Lastly, beach time would be necessary, probably towards the end of their stay for a little R&R in the sun, on the sand, and by the water.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shoutout to one of my former culinary instructors, Jill Bosich. She encouraged me to attend that first chef convention, coached me in my first culinary competition, and was just an all around great, motivating, and inspirational person to her students.