Episode 19

850 Item To-Do List, with Marissa Daskalakis Tsangaropoulos of Fete Fraiche


September 14th, 2019

58 mins 38 secs

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About this Episode

Growing up in a big Greek family, cooking for large groups was a natural part of Marissa Daskalakis Tsangaropoulos’ youth. She eventually turned that passion for bringing people together over food into a business, Fete Fraiche, first as a personal chef, and now as an event chef and caterer for the likes of Google and Stanford. Marissa shares the challenges of unanticipated growth, why saying no is such an important part of success, and the reason she’s such a gigantic fan of… lists and spreadsheets?

We start by talking about being born Greek, growing up in Queens and Chicago, and learning to cook at her grandmother’s side. Her best friend’s graduation gift led to a California visit, where she met her husband and they now live with their four kids. Before she started her cooking career, she earned two degrees (in Philosophy and Industrial Organizational Psychology) and started an MBA. After living in Florence, Italy for a minute (where she got her first chance to cook in a commercial kitchen), she returned to the States and completed her culinary training at the legendary California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. A stint at Michelin-starred Commonwealth, Ladies Who Lunch, and a few other local establishments, and she was ready to strike out on her own, creating Fete Fraiche.

She didn’t initially plan to do catering and events. She started as a personal chef, making meals for for families in their home kitchen. Her clients loved her so much, they started asking her to cater large gatherings and events, eventually requiring her to sublease a commercial kitchen to handle the unanticipated growth.

We chat about how her nightmare scenario of arriving at an event without any food almost came true, and the value of word of mouth in both marketing and hiring (especially when your website is “incomplete”!). And while her time in CCA didn’t completely prepare her for running a catering business, it turns out leading weeks-long holiday events for your kids’ schools most certainly does.

We wrap up with a frank discussion about the challenges of educating customers who want custom catering for less than what they’d pay at Chipotle, and the importance of telling those customers it’s not me, it’s you....

Links and Show Notes

Our thanks to Marissa for joining us. You can find her on Instagram icon Instagram @fetefraichecooks and www.fetefraiche.com.

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or email us at Email icon lettucerwrappod@gmail.com.

That’s a wrap!

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