Immediately following the Big Top Cake Competition and Bakery Carnival, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, Delgado Community College, and John E Koerner & Co., Inc., will host a Bakery Entrepreneurship Panel. The panel discussion will focus on how to start a bakery, the legalities of selling products, and how to get help from local resources. The panel will be moderated by Pepper Bowen, Director of the Culinaria Center.
- Chaya Conrad: Owner and Chef of Bywater Bakery
- Megan Forman: Co-owner and Executive Pastry Chef of Gracious Bakery
- Dianne Sclafani: Culinary & Foodservice Business Development Consultant at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center
- Walter Wolf: Special Counsel at Mora Law Office
Come with questions! The panel begins at 3 PM and is free with museum admission.
This panel is made possible by the 2016 Big Top Cake Competition and the Paul C.P. McIlhenny Culinary Entrepreneurship Program
About the Panelists
Pepper Bowen is a former project manager, current enviro, and consummate lover of food. Pepper holds degrees from Tulane U (BS), Regis U (MSCIT), and Loyola New Orleans (JD); and seats on the New Orleans Food Policy Action and the Regional Sustainability Committees. She has authored academic research articles, policy papers, nasty letters to the editor, and edutaining blog posts, all in her noble quest to bring food and an understanding of where it comes from to the consciousness of people who eat.
After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in English and French, Megan Roen Forman decided to pursue her passion and enroll in the New England Culinary Institute. The internships required as part of the curriculum there led her to work in some of the top kitchens in Manhattan, including Park Avenue Cafe and Payard Patisserie and Bistro. In 2001, Megan returned to her native New Orleans to accept the pastry chef position at Susan Spicer's acclaimed restaurant Bayona in the French Quarter. While there she gained increasing recognition in both trade and consumer magazines and in 2004 Megan was honored with a Starchefs Rising Star Chef award. In 2007 Megan joined Sucre as the executive assistant pastry chef as part of its startup team. From its initial location she helped it to grow into a commissary and additional retail stores, gaining valuable business knowledge along the way. Finally, in 2011, she was ready to do her own thing. Megan and her husband Jay opened Gracious Bakery + Cafe in 2012, realizing their dream of being business owners. In the past five years, Gracious Bakery has grown from one retail store into three retail outlets as well as a 3,000 square foot production facility. From its original staff of six employees, Gracious LLC now employs over 40 people. Sales come from the retail stores as well as significant wholesale and business catering operations, with Mardi Gras king cakes providing a boost. Revenue in 2016 cracked 1M and is expected to double in 2017 thanks to their new location on St Charles Avenue in the Garden District of New Orleans.
Dianne Sclafani is well-known in New Orleans as a business speaker, trainer, and consultant specializing in food businesses with a mission is to help entrepreneurs achieve their career and business vision for success. Her extensive food business knowledge and work experience provides insight when consulting and training clientele in the food related businesses. She is hands-on to help them in all aspects of small business ownership; administrative and operational business needs to attain profitability. Her audiences appreciate her business approach by providing practical advice, tools to increase customers and sales, strengthen their team, and prepare their business to expand. Along with her business, Dianne is honored to be the Culinary & Foodservice Business Development Consultant for the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) for the Greater New Orleans and Bayou Region. Dianne has consulted over 500 local and statewide businesses strengthen and expand from a strategy for growth for capital access. While food is her specialty, she also works with other industry small businesses to find the latest trends, techniques, tools, and best practices. She creates and instructs culinary and general entrepreneur training programs and seminars. Last September, Dianne was awarded the America’s SBDC 2016 State Star for Louisiana SBDC.