Cocoa & Cream is the innovative brain child of entrepreneur Ethel Williams with a main purpose of bringing classic southern comfort soul straight to you wherever you may be. Whether you're catching the Christmas bonfires or attending the Congo Square Rhythms Festival, you can't miss Ethel's warm personality and bright orange food truck. We got a chance to ask her a few questions about her food truck, favorite foods, and progress with growing Cocoa & Cream.
MHS: How you were inspired to make the transition and start your culinary business?
EW: I had been contemplating starting the business for awhile. However, my "aha" moment was when my then 8 year old daughter burst into our bedroom early one Saturday morning, full of excitement, yelling, "Mom/dad I just had a dream that we owned a restaurant and the name of it is Cocoa & Cream!
From that moment on, my husband started to mark everything with the name Cocoa & Cream. Ironically, my daughter is now a Level Four Culinary Student at NOCCA and will be headed to New York in the fall for college, majoring in Hospitality/Hotel Management with a minor in Culinary Arts.
MHS: What gets you most excited about your work?
EW: The thing that excites me the most about the business is that I get to have the freedom to create new, exciting dishes and watch the smiles that instantly appears on a customer's face the moment they taste my dish.
MHS: What has really helped you grow your business?
EW: The thing that helped me really start to grow my business was when I was accepted into and became a graduate of The 2016 Catapult Funding Program which is overseen by Mr. Scott Aiges of the Jazz & Heritage Foundation.
This class was like a twelve week boot camp that focused on every aspect of your business. There were several people who would come in every week and introduce us to a wealth of information.
As a result of the class, I was able to rent incubator space at the LEH, where there were many mentors to assist you in just about every area imaginable. I became a member of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, listed my company with the BBB, became a panelist for the 2017 NOEW, and more. From there the doors just flung open left and right.
MHS: What is your favorite dish to make for yourself?
EW: I call it my guilty pleasure, but my favorite thing to prepare for myself is a Brie & Fig Sandwich with Caramelized Bacon on a toasted piece of Focaccia Bread.
I don't know about y'all, but that sounds amazing.
MHS: What kind of food have you been thinking about experimenting with/adding to your menu?
EW: I am working on a few new menu items right now. However, there is one in particular that I am determined to master – I had the pleasure of being a food vendor at the First Louisiana Hamburger Festival in September 2017. There was a Hamburger Contest where the winner walked away with $500.00, and Cocoa & Cream won!
That being said, I have to create a burger that will make an even bigger statement, and I'll just say it's coming along beautifully.
MHS: What's your ultimate goal with your business?
EW: My ultimate goal for the business is to open a full service event venue. I've catered several events where the venue did not have a kitchen or if they had a kitchen, the client was not allowed to utilize the space. I'd like to offer the entire package. The venue, the food, the alcohol, the DJ, the photographer, the decorations, and with this being New Orleans, even the second line Indians and Brass Bands would make for a very appealing Party Package.
We can't wait to see it happen.
・ ・ ・
What is #lentenlovenotes?
Six weeks isn't nearly enough time to focus on our favorite female-identifying culinary entrepreneurs, but it's a start! Each week of Lent, we're bringing you an interview with one of the lady hustlers we admire most in the New Orleans area.
Shout out your own entrepreneurial babes with #lentenlovenotes and we'll feature your tribute!