Cooking with gas
Combine equal amounts of entrepreneurism and passion for good food, add a Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) Summer Company grant, stir well and turn up the heat. It’s a recipe that led to success for Julia Segal, Artsci’11, founder of Kingston-based culinary tour company, Kingston by Fork (KBF).
“The learning curve was huge,” says Julia of her 2011 leap into business ownership. “I had a lot of ideas and passion, but also a lot to learn about budgeting, making financial statements and keeping records. I learned how to take it well when people said ‘no’, but also how to make it more likely for people to say ‘yes’.” Overall I learned that I am definitely cut out for this type of business and that I maybe even have a knack for entrepreneurship!”
In tackling the establishment of KBF, Julia called on communication, public speaking, and customer relation skills gained from her years as a campus tour guide, along with the support of Queen’s friends, professors and colleagues.
Her most recent challenge was running KBF while studying for a Master’s degree in business in Italy. Her degree program was focused on the food and beverage industry and gave her first-hand experience of the world of Italian food and wine.
“It was a real feat of time management!” she says. “I hired a manager who is great and hardworking and definitely understands the goals and philosophies of the business, but I still managed all of the design materials and accounting. I worked in the evenings, from hotel lobbies, over lunch breaks. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done!”
Having laid the groundwork in KBF’s first year of business, the focus now is to expand a little, try new things and create more partnerships. In addition to adding some newcomers to the tour agenda, Julia has turned her attention to developing tutored tastings and custom tours, all the while implementing lessons learned in her master’s classes into KBF’s business strategy.
“I try to take things one step at a time with KBF,” reflects Julia, who recently started a six-month internship at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group in New York City (a company owned by two well-known personalities in the New York food scene, chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich). “There are many exciting directions it could go in – expanding to another city, developing more events or tastings, and creating more tours and partnerships – but for now I am happy to continue on a similar course, make small changes, and enjoy being a part of the Kingston community.”