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What do you get when you combine entrepreneurship, gourmet food, networking and community? Secret Table, the passion project brought to life by Pablo Fernandez.
Pablo is our guest for this episode of The Solopreneur Hour; he joins me live in Studio 86 to talk food, people and solopreneurship.
Today he shares what his 10 years in real estate finance taught him and how the lessons from that time led him to combine his lifelong passion of food, community and entrepreneurship to create the successful enterprise that is Secret Table. Tune in for all of that and more on today’s show.
More About Secret Table
Pablo comes from a long line of entrepreneurs in the food world, going back as far as his great grandmother who ran a pastry business in Guatemala. His parents brought him to Riverside, California when he was two, leaving behind the upheaval and political turmoil that was happening in Guatemala at the time.
During his childhood Pablo was surrounded by food, community and entrepreneurs. His mom ran a real estate brokerage and his father owned and operated a restaurant. Pablo would spent a lot of his childhood working in the restaurant and today his mom and dad still run that family business.
You’ll Also Hear:
- How to make Guatemalan black beans!
- Why a cast iron skillet is a kitchen necessity, and how to season it.
- What’s the mission statement of Secret Table?
- Why there are no shortcuts to greatness.
- What’s the magic secret to selling out events when no one knows you?
- And much, much more!
There was a family culture to food and some of his earliest memories are of helping his grandmas and his mom in the kitchen. But watching his parents hustle also left an impression: he admits he was always been proudly unemployable and by 17 Pablo was an entrepreneur striking out on his own.
The start of his career though was real estate finance. He spent 10 years in that industry before the genesis of Secret Table would take place. He was on the cusp of attending in the finest culinary institute in the country when his business blew up. Because he wasn’t totally sure he wanted to be a chef and he already knew he didn’t want to be a restaurant chef thanks to a local chef he had befriended at a fine Italian restaurant in Riverside, he opted to stay with his business.
Things continued to look bright for his business until 2008 when the market crashed and he lost everything. Like many others he was overleveraged and the 5 years he had spent building that company and all of its assets were lost.
True to his solopreneurial spirit though that loss would not keep Pablo down for long. He took a six month sabbatical to Spain, got back to his roots of food and community. He returned to the States, took various consulting gigs with major banks trying to continue what his real estate finance career only to find his heart was no longer in it.
So after some conversations with his brother they came up with the origins of Secret Table. They started off like any good solopreneur does: they started small, worked out the kinks and got in their reps. They began by hosting small cooking classes and dinner parties for friends for a small fee.
He and his brother enjoyed it so much they eventually wanted to create a larger event for the public. So they set the date, found the venue and set a goal of having 100 people in attendance – the maximum for the space they had secured. And then they hustled: Pablo called 500 people, texted just as many and sent hundreds of emails as follow ups. It worked! In less than a full week they had sold out the event.
Today they continue Secret Table by hosting regular events but keeping the menu and the location secret! Invited guests know the area in which the event will take place but not the specific location. On the day of the event the location is sent to all registered attendees; they find out what’s on the menu when they arrive!
Pablo dishes (pun intended) on the mission statement of Secret Table and how it’s evolved over the year as well as his tips for how to get into cooking. This is an absolutely delightful and delicious episode you’ll want to seconds of – listen in and enjoy episode 390 of The Solopreneur Hour!
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What’s your favorite meal to cook or have made for you? Let us know in the comments below!
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Selected Links and Resources From This Episode
Secret Table on Facebook
Secret Table on Instagram
Cooked: The Official Trailer
The 4-Hour Chef
The Solopreneur Hour on the Twitter
The Solopreneur Hour on Instagram
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