When Angela Ray started her catering business, Taste the Love Cooking, in 2015, weathering a global pandemic was not on her mind. The Kansas City, Mo. native simply missed home. “I was flying home …
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When Angela Ray started her catering business, Taste the Love Cooking, in 2015, weathering a global pandemic was not on her mind.
The Kansas City, Mo. native simply missed home.
“I was flying home four times a year for the food. It was getting expensive!” Ray said.
So, she decided to leave her corporate job and start cooking.
Ray’s inspiration for her recipes came from her mother and grandmother. Her mother had baked for six major restaurants in Kansas City while raising six children. She prospered enough to send Angela through college. Even though Angela landed a job with Time Warner that brought her westward to Denver, the corporate life was not fulfilling.
Taste the Love Cooking was built by Ray’s homesickness for Kansas City food and desire to provide good food for large gatherings.
“Food brings people together, so it ought to taste good,” Ray said.
For more than five years, her catering business thrived as more and more people discovered Ray’s delicious, southern-style comfort food. From Kansas City barbecue pork to spicy Creole, Ray’s food brought the flavor to multiple events in the Denver-metro area. Business boomed as she was interviewed by news organizations and built a solid customer base.
Then, in March of 2020, the novel coronavirus hit Denver.
“I thought it was a phase,” Ray said. “I said, ‘Oh, this will pass.’”
But as the virus persisted, causing events and other large gatherings to be canceled, Ray’s income dwindled. She knew she needed to change her business model or shut down.
“My mother always told me, when life throws you curve balls, you have twenty minutes to vent, then move on,” Ray says.
In a true spirit of true entrepreneurship, Ray modified Taste the Love Cooking to become a home delivery service of….fresh pies.
“I’d been wanting to make pies for a long time, so why not now? You just want to feel cozy, like everything is going to be okay,” Ray said, smiling.
Pies help foster that feeling. Her signature pie crust is a recipe from her grandmother, Hattie. Ray fills them with a variety of flavors, including Barbeque Pulled Pork or Sweet Potato.
Within a short period, Ray was receiving multiple orders and rave reviews. Her customers were once again in love. Her website now advertises delivery of the pies within a two-day window directly to homes. Ordering only the pie crust is also an option, for those who wish to be creative with their own pie fillings.
Because of Ray’s tenacity in the face of potential disaster, Taste the Love Cooking is flourishing.
“It’s just me in the kitchen right now,” Ray said. “But I’m so busy that I am actually looking for part-time help, so if you know anyone...”
She also still offers the catering option, but it is on a smaller scale while large gatherings are mostly prohibited in Colorado.
Ray is hopeful for the endurance of small businesses in Denver. She has seen an outpouring of support from her community since the outbreak of COVID-19. “The media also needs to continue to showcase small businesses so that their stories are in front of consumers,” said Ray. “Pillsbury is going to be fine. Think smaller, and look after your neighbors.”
Speaking of Pillsbury, Ray’s next goal is to mass-market her grandmother’s pie crust. She dreams of having a line of products from Taste the Love Cooking either on Amazon or in supermarkets.
“It would just be a thank you to my mom, and to my grandma, to make it that far,” Ray said.
For now, Ray is focused on adapting her business, not merely to survive but to thrive.
“For small business owners out there, we can’t go back,” Ray says with conviction. “How we did things in 2019 no longer works. We have to embrace the future. We have to ask, “What can we do to move forward?”
For Ray, the answer for moving forward was simple: Bake pies.
To order from Taste the Love Cooking, visit Angela Ray’s website at https://www.tastethelovecooking.com/.
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