We had the good fortune of connecting with Chef Amber Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chef Amber, has the Coronavirus Crisis changed how you think about work life balance?
Covid-19 has brought a myriad of revelations to surface that I was not expecting, one being the importance of rest. In all transparency, I have NEVER been an expert at work-life balance, even while working in corporate america, and when you take into consideration being an entrepreneur, managing your “baby” – it’s gotten much worse. When I went full time with my catering brand, I proudly adopted the infamous mantra, #NoDaysOff. Today’s society almost grants you an invisible badge of honor when you shift your life in this manner. I have even stated on several occasions, “I don’t have a 9-5 or a 5-9, I have a 24/7”. In my 5 years of running my business full-time, I’ve definitely had some days where I’ve pushed past my limit, valued the process of business over sleeping and eating and felt proud of the fact that I survived – not realizing the abuse I was putting my body through or the discouraging message I was silently telling myself, “YOU don’t matter – as long as the work gets done”. When Covid-19 hit and everything came to a halt, I saw a 91% decline in revenue in just 1 month and of course, I immediately had a board meeting (with myself) and asked the normal question, “What are we going to do?” As I reflected over times in the past when I was met with these same unfavorable circumstances, finances in jeopardy, little to no business coming in, family and friends wondering how you will survive and combing through options in your head, I quickly realized I’d already made it through times such as these, so what makes this different – my FAITH was activated. Whether your faith lies in God, a deity, the universe or yourself, putting your FAITH in a greater power than ones the problems present ALLOWS you to REST! So I deviated from my normal “panic-mode” and instead of searching for ways to offset what was to come, I did nothing instead! Seems crazy right! I took a week to sit, do nothing, look out the window, turn my alarm off on my phone, sleep in – so many things that I had taken for granted or didn’t MAKE time to do before the pandemic. In that time of rest, I also realized how foreign ‘taking a break” was for me, how abnormal it felt to just sit , while noticing the chaos around me and how other people seemingly struggled with doing “nothing” as well. I had been doing myself a disservice all these 5 years and it took a pandemic, a forceful shutdown and unwarranted isolation to see that work-life balance is the gift that every entrepreneur should grant themselves. And not even a yearly trip out of the country or that birthday trip you had planned but granting yourself quiet time, scheduling FREE time if you have to, taking a walk, turning off your phone, exploring something new, giving yourself a definite start and stop time for work every day and just giving yourself some time to unplug and recharge. This time has taught me to reevaluate, to STOP, and to shift my mind as well as my business. As I’m still learning this thing called Rest, my mind is clearer, I’m more focused, I feel less rushed, less stressed or worried and doing business now is much more of a pleasure. I encourage everyone to make sure they come out of this time with some lessons learned and hopefully more of a balance and an appreciation for life.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
When I first was introduced to the Voyage community, I was Chef Amber, owner of Le Rouge Cuisine Food Co. Ironically in March of this year, I launched my new brand, Seaux Tasty Creole Fusion, as the To-Go sector of my business which was to debut at the Dallas Farmers Market but was halted 2 weeks before the launch date due to Covid-19. Launching this venture and beginning my residency at the Farmers Market was one of my biggest goals to date for the span of my business plan – so now I just chuckle when I think, I did all of that to have me be forced to wait some more – but I know there is a purpose in everything. I’m not just a Chef, I’m a curator of organic positive experiences centered around food and dining. My versatility, resourcefulness and my network sets me apart from others. Alot of the events I’ve been apart of, charities I’ve cooked on behalf of and the rooms I’ve been in have all been due to the professional relationships I’ve built over the years and allowing those people to build a relationship with the business owner as well as the brand. Building great relationships set a platform and foundation for great opportunities and these 2 factors along with my brand’s reputation has gotten me to where I am today and I plan to keep building upon that because I’m nowhere near finished with building this empire. Has this journey been easy? – not at all. And I actually wouldn’t want it that way. All the hardships through business have taught me lessons only life and experience could teach, I’ve made mistakes that I have grown from, I’ve missed steps that I hope to never miss again and I now know and hope to teach others that the only way to overcome challenges is to pull the lesson out of the “loss”. I’ve learned that it’s ok to feel, mistakes will happen, it’s ok to take a break and most importantly – you cannot do this alone, you need a community or some source of support. I want the world to know that once you find your purpose and passion, you’ll never have to question if you’re moving in the right direction as long as you’re moving towards them.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I feel like more of an outsider now that I’m one of the last few Dallas natives that STILL live in Dallas; however, with Dallas being such an ever-evolving city, there’s always something new to explore and do. Food would be at the top of the list of course – I actually keep a running list of new and exciting restaurants that I see while driving around Dallas and I’d take them to new places I’ve never been Music – Music is my second love, almost right in line with food so I’m super huge on the live music scene in Dallas. My favorite spots are The Free Man on Thursdays, High & Tight on Mondays, you can find some cool bands in Deep Ellum on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Chocolate Secrets (Oaklawn) has some amazing live music, vibes, chocolate and wine on Fridays and you catch plenty of gems playing at the Balcony Club in East Dallas on any given night throughout the week. Views – Dallas has some of the best views and scenery I’ve ever seen so places like Margaret Hunt Bridge, the M-Trolley and the observation deck inside Reunion Towers are some of my favorite places to take in the sights and sounds of Dallas Drinks – so I’m more of a craft cocktail type of girl so just like the restaurants, I keep a handful of spots on deck where I can get real drinks from real expert mixologists – my ultimate test is found in the quality of an Old Fashioned. Billy Can Cans (Downtown), Parliament (Uptown/West Village), High & Tight (Deep Ellum), and the Local Oak (Bishop Arts), There are way too many places to list but Dallas is a great place to explore, and eat and drink to your heart’s desire.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I know so many people and organizations that deserve a shoutout. The strength behind my business and what keeps me afloat is my network and the friends, partners and relationships I’ve built through professional networking. So i’d like to shout out the following people: – WINGS Dallas – this organization is a true gem for entrepreneurs and have given me invaluable support, wisdom, advice, and resources before and during this time. – EWF (Executive Women’s Forum) International – this is a powerhouse group of strong women in business who share not only the highs and lows of business but life as well. Because of this group and their support, wisdom and strategy, they encouraged me to rest more, take care of myself and helped me navigate through pivoting my business structure in a way that benefits others as well as still sustains me and my business. – My immediate Entrepreneur Accountability circle – Jaren Collins (JCI Creatives) and Bravo (BravoFit). We are 3 business owners in 3 different industries but we have continued to share, unload, encourage each other, push each other and still hold each other accountable to steady progression during this time. Connections like these are priceless. – My church family at Golden Gate Church (Dallas, Texas) has been amazing! The prayers, calls, texts, cards etc have really kept me going and I’m so grateful for their love and generosity during this time. – In pivoting during this time, I started a Quarantine Meal program to get meals to families and individuals so they wouldn’t have to leave their home to get lunch or dinner. From these efforts, many people and organizations started to donate funds to gift meals to families in need and to date, their contributions of nearly $1,000 has helped to feed so many people – so I want to thank those who gave during this time to make sure someone else was blessed.

Website: www.enterlerouge/com
Instagram: Lerougecuisine
Facebook: Le Rouge Cuisine
Yelp: Le Rouge Cuisine Food co.
Other: Our new brand Seaux Tasty can be found on IG @SeauxTasty

Image Credits
Jaren Collins, JCI Creatives Professional Makeup – Desiree’ Phillips

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