There are a lot of startups catering to the social media needs of a niche population. Skills that many take for granted in the tech world often don’t easily fit into the lives of other professionals. But, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a sufficient online presence.
San Diego-based Chef’s Roll is looking to help chefs create a stellar web presence, helping them network and possibly gain the attention of shows like Top Chef.
Check out our Q&A with Chef’s Roll below:
What is your startup called?
What’s the story behind your idea?
The founders of San Diego-based Chef’s Roll have always been passionate about the culinary industry, but it was only recently that they made a rather surprising discovery: the quality of a chef’s online presence almost never matches the quality of their cuisine.
That’s where Chef’s Roll comes in: to help these time-oppressed culinary artists look as brilliant as their food tastes. The culinary world is “hungry” for this tool.
With this kind of need, the sky’s the limit for this company!
Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?
The founders are:
Thomas Keslinke: A 13-year hospitality industry veteran, Thomas is co-founder of Chef’s Roll, an online platform for chefs across the globe to showcase their talents, career achievements and unique style through professional profiles. It’s a visually-stunning Linkedin for chefs. He was formerly CEO and executive chef at the gourmet catering and private dining company Eat Prive. Earlier in his career, Keslinke was a conference and event manager for Deloitte and also a consultant for award-winning restaurants, including top dining establishments in the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands and was restaurant manager of the famed Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. Keslinke earned his degree in Hospitality and Tourism from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
Frans van der Lee: Frans van der Lee has 15 years of experience in web development, databases and UX design, including stints at start-ups, large technology companies and the US Army. He is the technical co-founder of Chef’s Roll. He has lived and traveled all over the world and being a home chef and BBQ champion, he is as passionate about the subject matter as the mechanics.
Where are you based?
We are based in San Diego.
What’s the startup scene like where you are based?
San Diego is a very different startup scene than most cities. There’s a unique camaraderie among startups, with incubators emerging as people want to see San Diego get a more active investor community. In fact, Forbes Magazine just ranked San Diego one of the best places for startups.
There are resources and money to be invested — and a friendly atmosphere for new business. The vast
majority of startup companies in the San Diego area are chipmakers and Biotech, which makes Chef’s Roll a unique find. People get excited about Chef’s Roll because everyone loves food and wine.
What problem do you solve?
Working chefs often don’t have the time or budget to create a customized web portfolio, and existing job sites don’t have the tools to bring a chef’s unique skillsets and experience to life. To solve this widespread challenge, Chef’s Roll was born.
“Presentation is everything” is true for all chefs, and Chef’s Roll’s mission is to advance the culinary profession by helping to promote the chefs that are making it happen. From executive chefs to culinary students, Chef’s Roll welcomes you to the table.
The social media revolution has created a very real opportunity for Chef’s Roll to become THE worldwide network for professional chefs. With social media channels starting to also move into niche trade areas for professionals, it’s time for chefs to have a resource like this one.
Meanwhile, with the rapidly changing evolution of the job market in the culinary industry, “I’m too busy” is no longer a good enough excuse for a chef not to have a clean, cutting-edge professional profile. With the easy tools available now, chefs can finally get a profile page up both quickly and with knowledge that “presentation is everything.”
What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?
We were very proud to have the smash hit reality show Top Chef contact one of the chefs listed on our site for one of their upcoming programs. We have already added hundreds of new profiles and received overwhelmingly positive response about the site’s clean look and design. From Michelin-starred toques and celebrity chefs to emerging chefs and culinary students, the culinary community is very excited about this new platform.
What are your next milestones?
The next step is literally to break out on a global scale, and become THE worldwide network for professional chefs. We want our job board to be the industry leader because that’s where the top talent will be. It’s important for us to bridge the gap between true talent and open positions. As a tech company, we also want to foster a passionate and influential social media following, inclusive of top toques, internationally.
Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?
Any interested readers should look us up right away at: ChefsRoll.com.