In Playa Del Carmen, I had the opportunity to attend a neat food tour that’s not so typical from the usual tours you would think of attending like excursions and such that are more common. Food is a huge part of any country’s culture and you can learn so much just by experiencing food which is bounded by the roots of their culture. Cozumel Chef hosts food tours in Mexico and is founded by Girl Boss Emily who I had the opportunity to interview on how she came about to create and successfully run food tours in Playa Del Carmen.
Interview with Emily Egge (Q&A)
1) When did you first start Cozumel Chef and how did you come up with the idea?
Cozumel Chef started in my New Jersey apartment in 2010. I was nearing my end of culinary school that I was attending just for fun while working full-time for corporate and living with my boyfriend (who was also itching to do something new). His plan was to move to Cozumel and help his mom with her property management business and well me? No engineering jobs in Cozumel so why not start a private chef business? We started with a simple WordPress website. And I started working on menu ideas and photos in my NJ apartment.
2) Was starting your own business something you’ve always wanted to do?
No – at the time I had been very much on the path trajectory of finding a “career” job. I was brought up with the mindset of – go to college, get a job, stay with that job for 30 plus years, have a family and retire. I kind of went into starting my own business “kicking and screaming”. It was super hard to change my mindset, but once I did…I haven’t looked back!
3) What are your favourite things about Mexican Cuisine?
Oh boy where do I start….hands down tacos. I could eat tacos every day (especially Cochinita pibil). I love the street-food vibrancy, the scene and all. There is something so humbling about good, simple food and standing around with strangers while you enjoy it.
I also, love the variety of the ingredients here. So many regions with so many distinctive tastes. I am still learning about the cuisine.
4) Do you run Cozumel Chef all by yourself? And how do you go about to cope with the stress of running a evolving business?
Cozumel Chef was originally me, but in order to grow I needed to hire help. I have 5 freelancers that work for me. 2 that are actual food tour guides. 2 that are chefs that cook in the vacation homes and 1 email gal to help me with inquiries and reservations.
As for dealing with stress…LOT’s of yoga and LOT’s of running and maybe a massage or two in between. But, honestly my good organization skills (which I will thank to my past engineering life) has also helped minimize stress. I still have a daily agenda that I hand write everything down and I use it as a checklist.
6) Do you have any advice for young female entrepreneurs out there looking to start their own business?
Just get it started. I know that sounds so simple, but think about what you do in your spare hours? If you work full time or have a family – how many hours are you watching TV at night or vegging out in some way that you would consider “unproductive hours”? Use those very few spare hours to work on an idea (start blogging, start searching the internet for other successful entrepreneurs, listen to podcasts while working out about entrepreneurs ie TheTop, ZenFounder – get inspired by other peoples stories) and maybe, but slowly that idea will take off. Great successes do not happen overnight. Be prepared to change course. The idea you thought you originally would do might change – for me it was private chefing and now here I am managing a food tourism business.
7) What motivates you to keep Cozumel Chef running?
My freedom is what motivates me. My time is my time. If I want to take a week long trip to Peru, done. If I want to live in Spain for the summer – done. I can dictate what hours I work and when. So yes, avoiding corporate and having to report to someone else is part of that solution. Additionally, I am a wife and mother. It has been a blessing to be able to see my son at any hour of the day and watch every stage of growth and development. As for my relationship, I get to have lunch with my spouse every day. We also catch up on nightly walks with our dogs. When we were in the corporate offices together we maybe saw each other a couple hours at night (during culinary school…next to nil). It’s funny, my spouse says even though we have been married only 5 years, in the amount of hours we have been with each other it is as much as a 10 year married couple who works for corporate or someone else. I am so grateful for this.
8) What are your dreams for Cozumel Chef in the future? Any other locations your thinking of expanding into?
A few things I would like to do…first is to automate more on my website. The more you automate the more time you have to work on projects and/ or travel. Second, I want a major update on my website (no logo, mobile friendly etc). I am currently working with a graphic designer to do this. And lastly, I would like to expand my offerings on Cozumel Chef. Not necessarily me running more tours in other locations, but partnering with other companies and offering their great food experiences.