Chef Amber Williams of Le Rouge Cuisine and Seaux Tasty has thrived with online cooking lessons during COVID-19 | Image courtesy of Amber Williams

Chef Amber Williams intended to launch her new concept, Seaux Tasty, at the Dallas Farmers Market in March.

After years of catering under her brand Le Rouge Cuisine, the Oak Cliff-based chef was ready to bring her creole cuisine to customers outside of large events. The pandemic put her plans for a restaurant at The Shed at the Dallas Farmers Market on hold. But in the meantime, Williams has found success with online cooking lessons.

Like many others, Williams first felt defeated when restaurants and bars were ordered to shut down, with feelings of “frustration, sadness and shock.” Williams played on her entrepreneurial strengths and adjusted to the hospitality industry’s new normal.

“I already knew what plan of action I needed to implement to ‘soften the blow,” Williams says. “Rest and re-strategize. This has [proven] to be the key that has helped me to pivot successfully and scale properly during this time.”

Shrimp and grit cakes with andouille sausage | Photo credit J McClure Photography

She uses social media to keep her clients updated on business developments while maintaining visibility with corporate clients.

“I make sure my audience gets the opportunity to ‘eat with their eyes’ first and get a sneak peek into what an experience with me and my company will be like,” she says. “I’ve been building content and sharing in depth stories of what the dining experience with chef Amber entails and how they can be a part.”

In each of Williams’ virtual classes, the students invite Williams into their homes for a one-to-two hour cooking lesson. The classes are suitable for one-on-one sessions, as well as group classes. Students also receive a branded information and recipe card and opportunities for gifts and coupons for discounted services. 

Bourbon bananas foster bread pudding | Photo credit: J McClure Photography

For the time being, Williams plans to build upon her current service experience. Once COVID-19 is over, she hopes to maximize new opportunities and maintain current programs and services that are in motion at that time.

While COVID-19 has managed to take its toll on just about everyone, Williams offers advice for those who are struggling during this time.

“My first piece of advice is to center yourself and find solace in accepting the reality that adversity will come but defeat is not an option,” Williams says, “Secondly, find a group or person to act as a sounding board. Bouncing your thoughts and ideas candidly to someone can help alleviate stress and open the floor to new ideas and action steps that you may have not initially thought of. Lastly, take the time to formulate a realistic plan of action on how you’re going to conquer and overcome your current obstacles. Make the action steps measurable and attainable, create a to-do list with set deadlines to keep yourself on track and remember to give yourself permission to rest. Rest is one of the biggest takeaways I’ve acquired during this time and it has made the business process much more effective and efficient, especially during times of calamity.”