By Taroue Brooks
Tell us about your business.
Great Urban Eats is a Multi-Faceted Food business that involves a Television Show, Branding Stations, and Food Services including Catering. The purpose of each is to expose the African American Community to Black Chefs, Restaurants, and Farms while providing healthy options to those persons who may not otherwise have access to such.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Being an Entrepreneur is in my DNA. Both of my parents were Entrepreneurs as were my Aunts and Uncles. I was raised in a Family of Business Owners. It is the only thing I know. At the Age of 23, I owned a successful Cleaning Company in my Hometown of Pittsburgh Pa which I moved to Georgia in 1999.
Tell us how you learned to cook.
Cooking for me started at the age of 4. I was making full meals by 12. I was grilling food for the public by the age of 17. I’ve studied Grilling and Smoking Foods under various Grill Masters here in Atlanta for the last 2 years.
Why has healthy eating been a challenge in the minority community?
The African American Community has had a bad diet in the US since slavery. It, in and of itself became a tradition. The very foods that killed us were (and still are) served at wakes. Movies have been made surrounding those foods. ALL Unhealthy! The challenge for us has been learning of other foods and food items that are better suited for good health and then, getting over the mindset that eating healthy is expensive. It simply isn’t. As a community, we tend to not explore other food options. We’ve gotten away from Farming. America has become a microwave society and we have given into it like most others have. Eating well isn’t expensive but it can be labor intensive. My microwave rarely gets used and I don’t own anything that comes in a box or that is frozen. Fresh is the key and cooking daily is a must.
What strategies are you using to market the business?
I’ve created a website which will be the HUB of Great Urban Eats. We also have almost every form of Social Media which we regularly utilize. Our branding stations will serve also to market our business. But, the best marketing we’ve done so far is the food I prepare alone or with other Chefs. We hold Blind Taste Tests everywhere we go. You’d be surprised by the number of people who cannot tell a Black Bean Burger from a Beef Burger. I mean, look at what Burger King is doing.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
5 years from now, we hope to be helping people of all income ranges, build and maintain Aquaponic Gardens in their homes. The TV Show is already poised for National Release via a major Network so the next step will be to have it be an International Show.
How can people support your business?
Until the TV Show is Officially picked up by the network, we are asking people to support us with Financial Donations which allows us to continue to shoot episodes and by Following and liking our Social Media pages. In today’s market, Social Media is the new measure of success. All of our information can be found on our website: www.greaturbaneats.com
What has the production process been like for you?
Production of the show has been extremely Fun and Educational for me and my crew. The Chefs and Farmers LOVE the fact that we are bringing the Spotlight to them. No one else has. Production has also been tough at times as it costs a good amount of money to film. I’ve been paying for it out of my own pocket. I often compare myself to Robert Townsend. Credit cards are the backbone of the financing for now.