“Who am I to Start a Business?” That’s the question Sophie found herself asking – right before she made a call and said “I need a venue.”
Find out how chef and entrepreneur Sophie Budd went from a cook with a dream to a business owner working with Adele and groups of up to 90 corporates at once in this episode of the #AmplifyYourBusiness Podcast.
Length: 68 minutes
Sophie has been a chef since the age of 14. She’s been cooking for 22 years and running her business, Taste Budds Cooking Studio, for the last seven.
From cooking afternoon teas at her mum’s Bed and Breakfast, to cooking in Jamie Oliver’s 15 Restaurant and now owning a thriving business, Sophie’s lived an amazing journey through food.
Read on to find out what Sophie’s unique business looks like, and how she started as a self-described “misfit”, overcame the self-doubt that limits us all, and made her personal and professional dreams come true.
Note: The story involves Jamie Oliver, Roger Taylor (the drummer from Queen), and the true power of small business.
Taste Budds Cooking Studio is Sophie’s business – “my baby,” as she says. Taste Budds is a unique and thriving business. They teach cooking classes and provide catering – sometimes for the likes of pop star Adele – but Sophie’s heart beats for the team building exercises that teach corporates to cook (and work) together while preventing food waste and providing food for those less fortunate.
The team building framework is this: Taste Budds sources produce from Food Rescue, a non-profit that rescues unsold fruit and veg from various markets and provides it to those in need. This produce is then used in ‘mystery boxes’ of ingredients that are presented to teams of employees or corporates. The teams compete to see who can cook the best dish, learn to work together, and then Taste Budds delivers all the leftover food to local charities.
“When I wake up in the morning and I know I’ve got a team building, I’m ridiculously excited,” Sophie says.
Her dream is to expand the model into major cities, bringing workplaces together and providing a way for them to connect while giving back to their communities.
“My hope is that there comes a point where it’s not just Taste Budds any more – it becomes a social enterprise turning food waste into meals everywhere.”
What inspired Sophie’s business idea? Well, besides her love of cooking, Sophie’s inspiration comes from a desire to give back. Being involved with food, Sophie focuses on hunger and homelessness.
“What we can’t see going on in Perth is huge,” Sophie wonders. “There are so many families living in cars and dropping their kids off to school every day. When you start taking a look at what’s really going on, there’s a massive difference we can make.”
It’s this passionate need for action that in part drove Sophie to success. And she’s not alone – across the world, more focus is being brought to meaningful work and giving back to the surrounding community.
Business owners (and potential owners) take note – combining a business passion with something truly close to your heart can help unlock the drive you need to realise your goals.
Coming up in the UK culinary world, Sophie worked in Jamie Oliver’s 15 Restaurant.
“It was probably the hardest year of work in my life,” she remembers.
It was also the time during which someone she respected told her she was good at what she did, and this was transformative for her. This was the moment she realised she had something special.
Wherever you can, find a mentor. Don’t fear hard work. And never underestimate the power of outside validation.
When Sophie was turning over her business idea, this question came up over and over again. The question of “Can I do it?” haunts all of us who dare to dream.
“I had a dream but I wasn’t doing anything about it,” Sophie said.
“So what gave you permission to do it?” Matt asks.
For Sophie, it was putting her old self behind her. The child that was bullied, the shy one, the Sophie that wasn’t good enough – there came a moment when she realised she had to put that self behind her.
So she made the call and said “I need a venue.”
She found an out-of-business butcher shop, took out a loan, leased it and cleaned it up, and that became Taste Budds Cooking Studio. She’s been an ambassador for Food Rescue about 4 or 5 years ago now.
Personal development has been a key to Sophie’s happiness and business success.
“I discovered that one of my beliefs is ‘If I have money, people won’t like me.’” Sophie mused. “Through self-development courses, I realised I had this viewpoint at 36 years old! So I created a new one: ‘Being wealthy and successful will inspire others.’ That’s what I say to myself every day now.”
When Sophie was about 19 years old, she ended up cooking on Roger Taylor’s sailboat. He was a mutual connection through family friends, so she took a chance, called him up, and asked… “Can I cook for you on your boat?” He said yes.
“That was the most amazing sailing experience of my life,” Sophie says of the 125-foot sailboat trip.
The worst part? The crew wanted a roast dinner – and she had to cook it at a 45 degree angle as the boat turned. And then the crew buggered off for a drink, only to return once the food had gotten cold!
The important learning here was that she realised she could materialise opportunities – even those that require making a leap or taking an unlikely chance.
Part of Sophie’s journey has been staying inspired while avoiding information overload.
“We are constantly bombarded by stuff,” Sophie remarks. “You can spend hours and hours watching Facebook video, and you can be totally overwhelmed – never to gain anything from the experience.”
“But then you come across something inspiring. You find people where you see something in them that you want.”
Pay attention to that spark of interest when it comes to you. When you find someone or something inspiring, latch onto it. When you find someone with something that inspires you, pay attention to it. Use that sense of inspiration as incentive to exercise the missing piece of yourself.
For Sophie, it’s motivational speeches from Will Smith and others like him. What is it for you?
Never take what’s in your home town or city for granted. Leverage your home. Leverage what’s unique about your situation. Try to get a wide perspective and capitalise on what you’ve got at hand.
For example, when Sophie came to Perth from the UK in 2008 she was absolutely blown away by:
She used all this to find success in her business.
Sophie lived in a single apartment until recently, and spent all her evenings working and stuck into her laptop. Her friends were complaining that they didn’t see her, she was working too many hours a day, and she started to overload.
“The harder I work, the more respect I get.”
That’s the popular mantra that was playing in her head. But Sophie’s been realising that this idea isn’t true. At least not all the time. As she’s gotten to know more successful entrepreneurs, she’s finding many of them work 10 – 30 hours per week. They all say the same thing – that balance is the key.
Since then, she’s moved into a social household with 3 roommates that talk avidly. She’s happier than ever.
For entrepreneurs, there’s never an off switch. It’s 24-7 all the time. You’ve got to learn to give yourself the time and space it takes to avoid burnout, and to treat your
“Don’t get caught up in doing things, rather than achieving things,” Matt advises.
What Sophie Does to Balance herself:
Sophie’s found essential oils to be a game-changer. From physical skin conditions to anxiety and other emotional stresses, she swears by them. Try downloading the Modern Essentials app, typing in what ails you, and experimenting with the essential oils recommended if you’re curious to give it a try.
Connect with Sophie:
Other things mentioned: