Encouraging Culipreneurship: Culinary Entrepreneurship

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While working on my PhD research on entrepreneurship education, I noticed that faculty members and industry entrepreneurs almost always are affiliated with a specific aspect of entrepreneurship.  For example, faculty members say that they teach technology entrepreneurship, marketing entrepreneurship, or engineering entrepreneurship. Industry entrepreneurs say they are social entrepreneurs or serial entrepreneurs.  

While co-authoring a chapter in a 2012 publication titled Current Research in Hospitality and Tourism, I realized that the same definitional challenges around entrepreneurship happen in the Norwegian language. In Norwegian, most people think of entrepreneurship as  the start of  an entity. While this can be the case, we define  include entrepreneurship to bringing new ideas into an industry or an existing organization. To address the issues around the word entrepreneurship, we came up with the word entrepretality and subsequently called the chapter Entrepretality: Entrepreneurship in the Hospitality Industry.  As we looked more into entrepretality, we noticed that rarely, if ever, had we heard a chef call him/herselfan entrepreneur nor a culinary entrepreneur.

When speaking about culinary entrepreneurship within the club industry, the same definitional challenge occurs. Therefore, we defined the word culipreneurship to encompass the various aspects of culinary entrepreneurship from entity formation to entrepreneurship within an existing club. When diving into research on culipreneurship, a variety of interesting resources came up. For example, there is a media food styling website called Culinary Entrepreneurship, a Centre for Culinary Entrepreneurship in Kuala Lumpur, a podcast series on culinary entrepreneurship called The Entrepreneurs, and a relatively  recent 2012 article in Bloomberg Business Week called The Hungry Entrepreneur which focused on tech entrepreneurs gone culinary. Culipreneurship is everywhere but how can it be encouraged in the club industry?

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Chefs are Culipreneurs

The first part to encouraging culipreneurship is to help chefs identify as culipreneurs. All chefs are culipreneurs. Culipreneurs not only have a responsibility to create experiences for members, but they have to manage the finances and human capital of the department, receive feedback from members and other management all while keeping an open mind that is willing to try out new menu ideas and concepts. The root of culipreneurship is exposure to experiences and varied influences in addition to establishing the confidence to test new ideas. The challenge is to figure out how to keep the influences active and the exposure varied when routine is often prized.

My first exposure to culipreneurship was in 2002 in Voss, Norway. I experienced a traditional sheep’s head meal and learned how to prepare a sheep’s head with the group. Perhaps it was the ambiance of the environment they created in the dining room or the homemade beer that we consumed in a hand-carved Viking helmet, but the experience is still hard to forget. Most recently, I was exposed again to culipreneurship in 2012 in Umea, Sweden (the European Capital of Culture for 2014) at a venue called The Slaughterhouse where they not only exposed us to reindeer and moose but required that we cook the meat on community stoves outside. The food was great but what was most memorable was the connections that were formed while merging the dining experience with social interaction. This experience left a lasting impression and an easy story to share on my travels. In both experiences, the importance of encouraging entrepreneurial networks in the culinary space was noticeable—there was a deep social connection formed in each adventurous experience. Several researchers have looked into culipreneurship but one article that captures the perspective of adventure, culture, business and culinary skills is co-authored in the journal Tourism Management by Dr. Reidar Mykletun and titled Beyond the renaissance of the traditional Voss sheep’s-head meal: Tradition, culinary art, scariness, and entrepreneurship

Active Culipreneuring

So how can chefs continue to be culipreneurs? Here is a list of ideas taken from and outreach to chefs in 25 clubs in the United States:

Connect your membership together via active food experiences.

Use your network to share ideas. 

Listen to music or podcasts.

Include the creativity of your team.

Proactively try new recipes and approaches.

Read blogs or magazines from those who inspire you.

Expose yourself to new experiences.

Note ideas when they come to you.

Explain the influences of your innovative work (become a storyteller).

Use committee meetings to test new ideas.

Reach out to entrepreneurs in other industries to swap ideas.

 Mona Anita PixMona Anita Olsen and Brittany Marquez make a difference at the Virginia-based educational non-profit iMADdu (I make a difference, do you?). Mona Anita founded iMADdu Inc. in 2010 and launched a Student Apprenticeship Program which provides students with hands-on entrepreneurial experience and mentorship over the course of a 12-week program.  Mona Anita is a 2012-2013 Fulbright Grantee to Norway leveraging her background in hospitality and information technology as she finishes up her PhD in Entrepreneurship Education.  Brittany Marquez is an Events Apprentice at iMADdu. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs and aspires to be one someday. Brittany is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Tourism and Events Management at George Mason University. Learn more about iMADdu at www.imakeadifferencedoyou.org