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Hidden Gems: Meet Raquel Ayers of Cooked By Kel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Raquel Ayers.

Hi Raquel, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve been in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. My grandmother had me right by her side as soon as I was able to hold a spoon, preparing meals for the family. It was just a part of the day at her house; she would holler “hey girl, come help me in this kitchen” and it was time to suit up. As I got older, it became even more apparent to me that I really loved to cook and wanted to elevate what I could do.

I love hearing people tell me that my food was delicious and I love that food brings people together. I started watching The Food Network, mainly Chopped, and I would get so inspired I would go into the kitchen and just start mixing things together figuring out what worked and what didn’t work. I just kept practicing and building my skill set and people would tell me all the time how good of a cook I was.

One day, while at work, I decided to make a cheesecake for my staff (they were having a rough week), after that, I had many, many people requesting my cheesecake for their birthdays, anniversaries, all kinds of things. That is what catapulted me into CookedByKel. It all started with a kind gesture and a cheesecake!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Absolutely not! It was especially difficult because I didn’t know how to balance a full-time job, being a full-time student, and now trying to grow a business in the middle of a pandemic. Learning how to start a business, market your business, learn the appropriate pricing, setting up a website, all of it was challenging.

I will say that every struggle and every obstacle was 100% worth it. I love being able to make people happy by doing something that I love and I learned a lot about starting a business by bumping my head a few times.

We’ve been impressed with Cooked By Kel, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
CookedByKel is a private dining/catering service. We offer in-home dining services, delivery dining services, cater special events, and many other service options. What I would say sets me apart from others is that we take pride in making everything homemade and from scratch as much as possible and are always looking for new ways to bring good food into the homes & mouths of our clients.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts, or blogs that help you do your best?
I like affirmation books, where you can fill out some questions and build affirmations, figure out where you can grow. I am really interested in digging deeper within myself and unlocking new potential.

I also have been reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey and completing the guided journal along with it.

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