Friday, August 27, 2010
Denise Portillo > www.IlBellaCafe.com
What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
It begins with an imagination, you must have faith that your plan will grow into your largest dream.
What did inspire you to start your business?
I have always sought comfort in cooking and being outside with flowers. I’ve been taught that it was important that you get a formal education from a 4 year college in order to get a good paying job, and although I went to college a few semesters there was nothing that I really loved except decorating, cooking and creating floral arrangements. After I had my daughter Sophia I decided that I wanted to wake up every morning loving what I do instead of dreading that it’s Monday and couldn’t wait until Friday. That didn’t appeal to me at all, so I decided to merge all over my so called “hobbies” and create a business on what I did best.
How did you finance?
Fortunately I had the luck of having good jobs prior to being in the culinary field which allowed me to save and open the catering company. Once I launched it I began to save from the events and then opened Bella Café.
Being Hispanic does it have any influence on your business?
I get the opportunity to create traditional new dishes from different Hispanic countries and I am fortunate to work with lots of wonderful Hispanic organizations.
In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
Determination, hope and inspiration; life is good even though its difficult at times we all get through it and I love what I do that’s always important to keep me going. There have been times that I often wonder what am I doing? Would life had been better if I had gotten my four year degree, but throughout life there are always challenges and without them I believe that there would be no appreciation for what you have in this world.
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
My Café being vandalized was very difficult to recover from, which was completely destroyed and without a kitchen. It’s taken us ten months to reopen, but we did it and its made us stronger. The time came that I had to make a choice if I was willing to risk reopening my business and possibly something devastating happening again, but this is what I have worked hard for so I was not about to throw in the towel.
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
Creating a way of being more organized...Other than that the lessons as hard as they have been are worth going through and coming ahead with a smile.
What was your childhood ambition?
My childhood ambition was of course to be a wife and a mother of four then once I got older I always wanted to cook and create table settings and flowers. So in my twenties I was indecisive and then by the time my daughter was born I decided what I wanted.
Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
I admire Oprah Winfrey, Ellen De Generes, and Frieda Kahlo. All three women have shown great strength in many difficult challenges and have always remembered to appreciate what they have and show kindness to their fans and the less fortunate.
For business meetings: breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Whichever I am not in the kitchen. Bella Café is open for breakfast and lunch and soon we will be opening for dinner. Our catering side--Bella Events--is an International Cuisine company which specializes in creating menus and beautiful ambience, the catering side is a full service company.
What scarifies on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I waited until I was 30 to start a family, with my busy schedule I have time for my daughter and my business, finding someone to understand that is difficult. Most of the time my understanding family and daughter go with me to work but my schedule sometimes is hectic and I miss quite a few dinners and parties.
What is your favorite quote?
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless,” by Mother Teresa.
Is it difficult to be unconventional?
At first I was intimated because the culinary world was dominated by men primarily. I am a single mother so that made me more determined to succeed in any world. Our world is what we make of it.
Biggest mistake made?
Not trusting my instinct, my grandmother “Mama Honey” always told me when in doubt listen to your instincts; it was put there for us to listen to it would never steer me wrong. She was right.
Do you consider yourself an innovator?
Yes, I create dishes I believe bring comfort to people who eat them. I visually create an atmosphere that is appealing so that my clients and customers have the entire sensations: smell, sight, taste, etc., experience.
About the Company:
Chef Portillo, Executive Chef-Il Bella Café, food consultant, spokesperson and Owner, Il Bella Events
Chef Portillo grew up in Los Angeles and has become a culinary and entrepreneurial inspiration. Inspired by her family, Chef Portillo has become a world class chef, food consultant, spokesperson, and entrepreneur running her own first class catering company. With her talents and expertise in food, nutrition and health, lifestyle, and topics that affect the entire family, this Latina wonder is making waves in the world of international organic cuisine.
Chef Portillo has devoted her life to her two passions - mastering and refining the art of cooking, and educating her fans about how to enjoy complex International organic cuisine in a healthy way. "My mission is to create a delicious culinary experience with event de'cor that tantalizes the senses," Portillo says.
With a degree in Culinary Arts from the famous Le Cordon Bleu - California School of Culinary Arts, Chef Portillo has studied and practiced the intricacies of international organic cuisine. Widely recognized in culinary circles as an emerging international organic cuisine thought leader, Chef Portillo was recently named Culinary Woman of the Year by the National Latina Business Women Association, Los Angeles.
Based in Los Angeles, Chef Portillo is owner and Executive Chef for Il Bella Events, which is so hot that Chef Portillo opened Bella Café last month. The response to Denise's new restaurant has been immediate and positive, and she plans on opening three more Bella Café's in the L.A. region in the next few years.
Chef Portillo supports health, ecology and multicultural health education through her work with the Whittier Conservatory and Young Adults in Juvenile Hall, Los Angeles. Whether she's teaching nutritious cooking at her restaurant, or at an event, Chef Portillo is on fire with her desire to share everything she has learned to create a delicious culinary experience with event de'cor that tantalizes the senses!"
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