Alumni Chef Explains How to Cook Up a Business Model

Claire Thomas CM ’07 returned to Claremont McKenna College Feb. 19 to speak at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum about how to build a brand around personal interests. Prior to her talk, the food enthusiast and self-taught chef-turned-blogger gave a cooking demo in the Athenaeum kitchen, teaching students how to make ‘Townies,’ or brownies baked with dark beer. The brownies were later served as the evening’s dessert, much to the delight of attendees. “She gave us some pointers and walked us through a really easy recipe,” Haley Goodman CM ’17 said. “It was like if you watch a food network show, but you’re behind the camera in person, bouncing off questions. It wasn’t what I expected, but I’m glad that we got to do it.” After the lesson, Thomas discussed creating a business out of a pastime, sharing the specific steps she took to transform her love for food into a marketable brand. Thomas began with an appreciation for food history, from which she created the food blog and the book, The KitchyKitchen: New Classics for Living Deliciously. Many topics were explored in the ensuing question-and-answer session, including advice for a specific student attempting to launch his own food blog and how to throw the perfect dinner party. Students appreciated Thomas’s unique life path, calling her a breath of fresh air from the typical CMC economics and finance scene and an example of the Athenaeum’s general trend of increased speaker diversity this year. “You see people going into finance and consulting, but you don’t really see people making success of a food blog or being a chef or a food decorator,” Goodman said. “It’s nice to see a CMC alumna in a field that’s rather unrepresented; it’s pretty inspiring.”

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