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Meet Jasmine Pennerman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jasmine Pennerman.

Hi Jasmine, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Bookies Bites started unofficially in 2016 . I didn’t have a name yet, but a good friend helped me with a vision. I knew I loved to cook and could naturally find my way in any kitchen. My dad and one of my uncles are two of the greatest chefs i know. Anytime spent with them, I would pay attention and learn. Eventually, I would always make different dishes for myself and my kids then bring the leftovers to work. At one point, my friend stated I should sell these leftovers to our co-workers. I didn’t think people would buy them, but I took her advice anyway. One day of selling a few dishes at work transpired into, “when will you be cooking again” and “can you cook for me at home?” Before I knew it, people were asking me to host brunch and anniversary dinners for them. That’s when I knew I had to take it more seriously. In 2019, I produced the name, Bookies Bites. Shortly after that, I was given the opportunity to travel out of state for private dinners, Pop-Up Shops every other month, and even prepared a few dessert tables for weddings. Of course, due to covid, I haven’t been able to do as much as I’d like but I am still working on getting out there and getting to know more people. Recently, I purchased a food trailer that’s currently being renovated. In addition, I’ve been in the “lab” creating new dishes to add to my catering menu- just in time for holiday season!

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?
It hasn’t been a smooth road, but I’m grateful. Unfortunately, my business started to boom at the beginning of the pandemic. Opportunities come up, but it’s tricky to navigate during COVID. Lately, I’ve been relying on website and social media traffic to generate customers and catering leads.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a self-taught Private Chef and Caterer. Luckily, I can learn by watching and mimicking- yes, I love cooking shows! I like to eat so making food and having it taste good has never been a problem. Many of my Texas customers will say my seafood is the BEST dish, but I’d like to believe all my dishes are best-sellers! I try to cater to everyone’s needs and a lot of people request different seafood options, so I make it happen.

I am most proud of me putting myself out there as I am normally a very shy person. My best friend, Alonte Jones, keeps his foot my neck when it’s time for Bookie to be Bookie, you know. I always tell him I just want to cook. He tells me, “you ARE the brand, so you have to engage people.” I’m surprised by my customers’ engagement both in person and on social media. So, I’ve been challenging myself to keep up with the momentum. I believe my passion for cooking makes me agile, considering that I’m self-taught. As I stated previously, I love to eat and try new foods so I’m not scared to put things together I will make something out of nothing and put all of my love and energy into it you would think it came from a 5 star restaurant. Because I am not a culinary-trained chef, I know I have to go above and beyond to make sure I do everything perfect so that when people eat my food, they would assume I was taught by the best.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Social media has helped a great deal. You would be surprised how many groups on Facebook are centered around things like this, helping people connect and giving great advice. I am friends with and know a few great chefs and I do not mind asking them for advice or just watching and learning from them. You can’t be scared to ask for help and that’s what I had to learn. Add people on social media that do the same thing as you or doing what you want to do, reach out to them. Pay attention to what they do and you might learn what to do or what not to do.

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