• The Vegan Hood Chefs

Foodie Friday Interview with KLeblancs


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?

My name is Melanie Anderson-Stampley and I’m from the Bay Area. I was born and raised in San Francisco, but grew up in Hayes Valley/Fillmore district.

2. Tell us the story of how your company started? I used to do audio production making music and such and ended up segueing into video production and directing. Due to having tight budgets, sometimes I’d end up personally handling the craft services for both studio sessions and video productions. So, I decided to brainstorm my company a bit after I graduated Culinary School @ CCSF. I was working at a Peruvian restaurant and quit because the standards weren’t how they taught us in school. But, I loved the flavor profiles I acquired on that job. After that, I was a private chef and was doing a lot of catering gigs via word of mouth like birthday/graduation parties, retreats, private dinners and even funerals.. After speaking with my family, I decided to move forward with creating my spice line based on my taste palate. 3. What is your relationship to food and how does that influence your business?

I used to do audio production making music and such and ended up segueing into video production and directing. Due to having tight budgets, sometimes I’d end up personally handling the craft services for both studio sessions and video productions. So, I decided to brainstorm my company a bit after I graduated Culinary School @ CCSF. I was working at a Peruvian restaurant and quit because the standards weren’t how they taught us in school. But, I loved the flavor profiles I acquired on that job. After that, I was a private chef and was doing a lot of catering gigs via word of mouth like birthday/graduation parties, retreats, private dinners and even funerals.. After speaking with my family, I decided to move forward with creating my spice line based on my taste palate.

4. What are some of your most popular items?
Smoked Black Pepper, Garlic Sea Salt, Roasted Garlic, and Cajun have been pretty popular b/c those are the ones I think people can use the most and are familiar with. I also carry them all-year round. It’s a nice spin and a subtle change on basics that are needed in most cooking that can impact the flavor of your meals tremendously. Taco and Lemon Pepper also used to be fan favorites. They sell so well, they’re hard to keep in stock.
5. What does it mean for you to be a black and woman owned business?

It’s actually been quite interesting having to defy the odds and embrace both. Originally, when I launched, I wanted to be racially/ sexually ambiguous for my brand b/c I didn’t want to be put in a box; but I learned that people should know it’s a black owned company. But overall, I want the product itself to be the focus and to stand on its own merit. I want people to focus on the flavor and what it does to your taste palate. The quality and freshness, as well as the amount. Although the packaging is small, the product packs robust flavor. Everybody eats and shouldn’t be denied flavor profiles. I want my product to cross boundaries regardless of what stereotypes people might have when they know I’m the face behind the brand. Like- I offer a full catalogue, not just “BBQ, Cajun, and Seasoning Salt” Also, I’m also from California. We eat various foods from so many cultures and I wanted that to be known. Im also aware of underlying health issues within POC communities like stress, high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol and I want people to know that sometimes even if you have to tailor your diet, the taste of your food doesn’t need suffer. It doesn’t have to be bland, boring and riddled with salt. I wanted everyone to feel like they can elevate the flavor of even the most basic meal.

6. What inspired you to start your company?

I realized a lot of my friends would ask me how to cook or season things after I graduated culinary school and I would tell them but they would say it wouldn’t come out right. One of my friends jokingly told me to “do it for them and season it” and honestly-it just kind of stuck with me and I took it literal and developed the spice line. My love of cooking and love of dining out also lead me to this. I, myself, aim to have well-crafted meals and have spent years analyzing and coming up with blends to satisfy myself and I wanted to share that with others.

Some challenges for me have been definitely been finances, balancing schedules, and especially stereotyping. Some have assumed I’m only offering one type of spice or one blend. Im trying to defy that by offering a whole line of various flavors. We all have seasoning salt of some kind, and there’s nothing wrong with that Lol. Another challenge is having your family/friends buy into your vision. They might not see what you’re drafting in your mind. I’m also blessed that I didn’t have to take any loans out and am proud to say I’m self-funded.


7. Share some challenges and successes you have experienced in your business.

The success is definitely the rewarding feeling I have when someone uses my spices when they prepare their meals. Also, I was blessed to have my Uncle help me with my branding and packaging, and my boyfriend helping me with sales and customer service.

Don’t stop working on something even when the odds are against you.


8. Any thing else you would like to add?

Don’t let anyone put you in a box or destroy your endeavors. And if someone else is offering something similar to what you’re trying to push, keep pushing.


9. Where can people find your products? Usually, we’re at the Jack London Square in Oakland, two Sundays a month. But now, I’m mostly online these days due to COVID-19. Lol. Please feel free to check out my website, which is www.kleblancs.com and our Instagram, which is @k.leblancs for more information like updates, recipes, and more.

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Due to COVID-19 We currently only do private catering and deliveries. We conduct deliveries every Sunday from 3-6PM. You must pre-order. Please subscribe to our blog for more information on how to preorder.

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www.theveganhoodchefs.com

Tel: 415-574-8203

 

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