Many chefs have that moment when they realise it’s time strike out on their own. For those setting out to be their own boss, starting a restaurant might seem the obvious way to go. In fact, there are many options. In Alex Motture’s case, he had the idea to set up his own catering business in London. Four years on, we caught up with Alex to learn about his experience setting up and running his catering business, The Pickled Fork.
In a sentence, describe what The Pickled Fork is?
The Pickled Fork is an event catering business based in South West London, catering from anything to a private dinner for 2 to a wedding for 500 and everything in between.
How did you come to launching The Pickled Fork? What did you do before? Was there a lightbulb moment when it came to you?
I started the business in London with a friend of mine as we wanted to get into the ‘pop up’ scene and away from working for someone else. A few months into it and he left and I took over full ownership of the business. Before setting The Pickled Fork up I worked as a freelance chef for Mustard Catering.It was whilst working here I realised that I could run my own catering business and make it a success.
Thinking about the pre-launch period, how did you find the process of setting up your business? Where was your time spent? Did you spend much time researching and developing your idea?
My time was mostly spent researching other catering businesses, searching for venues, emails and phone calls to potential clients. I also spent a lot of time building the website and making sure that was user-friendly.
Since launching, what have you found the most challenging about running a catering business? Has that changed over time?
I find time management can be very challenging especially when I need reply to emails, go to meet clients and take phone calls at the same time as cooking in the kitchen for the day. Until I can afford to employ another member of staff I can’t see it changing.
How has your business evolved since you set it up?
Over the past 4 years, the business has come a long way in terms of client base and turnover. At the start, I was hosting 4 pop ups a month (one in my front room) trying to promote the catering side of the business as much as possible. At the moment I’m doing 1 pop up a month and the rest is catering.
What achievements are you most proud of?
The achievement I’m most proud of to date is definitely catering for the South Australian Club Annual Dinner at Australia House in London. From that event, I’ve managed to secure a place on the suppliers list for the entire building and have catered for many events there since.
What do you enjoy most about being your own boss?
I would have to say that being my own boss and keeping my own hours is the most enjoyable. I also enjoy meeting new people and networking as this can lead to bigger and better clients
What advice can you offer other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start up their own businesses?
You need to take risks no matter what. Even the most calculated risks will help you in the long run.
Are there any specific tips you’d offer to people looking to set up a private catering business?
You should be prepared to work long hours and stay positive. London is a very competitive city so you need to play to your strengths and not always try to compete with others out of your league.