Escoffier Student Opens Restaurant In San Francisco

Student Spotlight: Sofia Keck

Culinary Arts student Sofia Keck turned to online culinary school because time and physically attending school was not an option. Online was the perfect solution for her. Sofia enrolled in the online program in March 2013 and just opened her very own restaurant in San Francisco. Although it hasn’t been easy, her hard work has paid off when opening day was a success.  Going through the program Sofia has gained the confidence to run a restaurant, as well as, the ability to get her hands dirty in the kitchen at any time. In this recent interview, Sofia explains why she loves Escoffier and how the program has prepared her both in the kitchen and as an owner.

Escoffier: The name of your restaurant is Los Shucos. What does that mean?
Sofia: Los Shucos Latin Hot Dogs. It means “dirty dogs”. 

Escoffier: You opened your restaurant recently. How did it go?
Sofia: We had a soft opening and we sold out. We have been selling out every day and have been open for 5 days. We are planning a grand opening for March.

Escoffier: What kind of work goes into opening a restaurant?
Sofia: Much more than one might think, a lot of paper work, certifications, permits and business development. It is not only about cooking and serving great food. Triple the money, time and effort that you expected. It is definitely a full time job.

Escoffier: Why did you decide to open a restaurant?
Sofia: I wanted to feel closer to home, represent my country of Guatemala and share our flavors. To serve Guatemalan street food in a city like San Francisco where foodies dominate the culture and have people like it, is the best feeling in the world. I feel validated as a cook but mostly as a Guatemalan immigrant.

Escoffier: What made you decide to enroll in an Online Culinary school?
Sofia: I have other businesses and a family to take care of, I had no time to physically attend cooking school. Online was the perfect solution for me. I am very happy I found you.

Escoffier: How do you think the Escoffier online course has prepared you to open your own restaurant?
Sofia: Typing things down makes you reassess all your steps and keep track of what you have learned. Inspiring chefs tend to focus only on cooking and even though practice makes perfection it is very important to have knowledge of what to do before you do it. The academic part that Escoffier offers is outstanding. It’s important to not only “do” but study.

Escoffier: Do you think your staff could benefit from a course like Escoffier Online?
Sofia: Absolutely, the more they know the less I have to spend time teaching them and the more we can learn from each other. Plus, we all learn at our own pace so online culinary courses are a great resource that is always there.

Escoffier: What gave you the confidence to open a restaurant?
Sofia: When people tasted my food and liked it, it was a big boost of confidence, however talking about it helped even more. The online community at Escoffier provides you with emotional support that is the most important thing you need to open up a restaurant. It is truly a roller coaster of emotions. There is a difference between being a chef at a restaurant and being the owner. Escoffier prepares you for both.

Escoffier: Any advice you would like to share with those who would like to open a restaurant?
Sofia: Great food is the most important thing to a chef, however a strong business plan is the most important thing to a restaurant owner. As an owner you have to think about many other things that have nothing to do with food such as your expenses, location, design, marketing, payroll and insurance. I try to spend as much time as I can in the kitchen because that’s what I love the most but truth be told when you own a restaurant it is hard to make time to cook unless you hire a manager that can take care of everything else. Thankfully I have an open kitchen where I can cook as I interact with the customers. Seeing their reaction when they first bite a Shuco fills my heart with joy and makes it all worth it.

Photo Credit to Los Shucos Latin Hot Dogs

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