We had the good fortune of connecting with Chef Sherri Mitchell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chef Sherri, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking

I believe life is meant to be explored. And, sometimes, exploring means taking risks. I  love adventure; I love learning new things; I love challenging myself in new ways; and  I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge or task because I’m scared (within  reason, of course). I attribute a lot of it to my upbringing. As the daughter of a military  man, we moved 7 times in my first 11 years of life; that’ll make you resilient! While it  definitely had its detractions, one thing it instilled in me was knowing I had the ability to  start over and try again. I’ve leaned on that belief and courage countless times in my life,  including when I decided to move across the country, knowing no one in Colorado, to  pursue my heart’s desire to live here and launch a culinary-focused business. 

What it comes down to though is that nothing in life is guaranteed. We have one go around, and it’s up to us to make the best of it. I’ve never wanted to live with the regret of  “what if”… What if I never took that chance? What if I had given it my all? What if I’d  said yes instead of no (or no instead of yes)? Sure, fear is a real thing in the life of every  entrepreneur. There is no safety net, and you’re often building the parachute after you’ve  jumped out of the plane. But you know what? I’d rather perish from a fall than never take  the leap at all. 

How did you get to where you are today professionally? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?

Unlike many businesses, Chef Sherri Sauces wasn’t something that I strategically  planned towards; it came about from tragedy, in many ways. In 2017, after working in the  health and wellness field for over a decade, I suffered a catastrophic injury to my leg that  left me unable to walk for months or stand longer than a couple of hours for over a year.  Needless to say, I lost that career and had to start over from scratch. Shortly after that I  also suffered a personal loss that propelled me to finally move to Colorado (a dream I’d  had for quite a while). Given that my son was now in college, I took the opportunity to  ask myself what I really wanted to do with the next phase of my life. Since I couldn’t  physically train people towards health anymore, I decided to combine my nutritional  education with my culinary knowledge and use that route to help people. 

It’s always been a strong desire of mine to help people live their best lives and be their  best versions of themselves. It’s probably no surprise then that the main purpose behind 

Chef Sherri Sauces is to improve the health of the nation. I want to help people be  physically healthier, leading to feeling better and living longer with fewer diseases. I  want to show the country that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or time  consuming in order to be enjoyable. If I can take the stress out of preparing a delicious  meal, that’s one fewer obstacle standing in the way of a healthy choice. Provide recipes  and guidance… there goes another obstacle. Make it available in local stores… there goes  another obstacle. Every time an obstacle falls, the potential for thousands of people to  improve their food choices (and, consequently, their health) increases. And, just as  importantly, I’ll do this while minimizing the impact to the earth. All materials used will  be recycled, recyclable, and/or compostable and shipping will be minimized as much as  possible. 

It is also important to me to source as many materials within Colorado as I can. To that  end, I get my spices from Denver, my honey from Boulder, my labels from Columbine,  my packing materials from Louisville… the list goes on and on. My commercial bottling  is also done in Colorado. The way I see it, if I can support other local small businesses as  I grow, then they grow as well. It’s a win-win. I also make it a point to donate a portion of  profits to charities every year. I’m proud to so far have supported local food shelters,  educational scholarships, senior citizen services, local collages, global non-profits, and  others. This year I’ll be polling my customers to choose a charity to receive the donation.  If you’ve purchased from my website in the past or are a newsletter subscriber, be on the  lookout for an email in June! 

Throughout this journey of launching and running my business, I’d say the biggest lesson  I’ve learned is that investing in people is investing in yourself. It can be terribly scary and  money is extremely tight (usually) when you’re first launching, so the thought of paying  more for a small local source vs a large chain brand, or money to join a professional  networking group, feels risky. However, I’ve never once regretted it. Of course, I haven’t  said “yes!” to every opportunity that’s come my way… that would be foolish. But I’ve  taken the time to sit with my gut, see if the decision aligned with the core values of my  company, and if everything felt right then I’ve eagerly begun the partnerships, with  gratitude. 

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take  them around to? 

Oh gosh… where NOT to go in Colorado?! I’d probably plan a trip across the state,  focused on outdoor activities. We’ll assume people are visiting at all times of the year!  I’d go horseback riding through the Garden of the Gods, see dinosaur tracks in Golden,  kayak on Evergreen Lake, drive RMNP of course!, ski in Breck, go rafting in Telluride, 

catch a concert at Red Rocks, cycle in Leadville, hike in Aspen, and soak in Steamboat  Springs’ hot springs!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My initial thanks goes to all of my friends and family who encouraged me to start Chef  Sherri Sauces. From its inception, I’ve had support and belief in my abilities; that is truly  priceless. Next round of thanks goes to the instrumental culinary chefs I had, not so much  for what they taught me in the kitchen but the connections we made and conversations we  had. Their insight and friendship continue to be a bedrock I lean on today. Denver Small  Business Development Center (SBDC) played a huge impact with their “LeadingEdge”  entrepreneur development course; it not only gave me insight and a path for launching  and growing my business but it opened avenues for exploring that I hadn’t realized I’d  need. My sincere thanks to all of those who have leant me an ear, offered some guidance,  and passed along business or referrals; opening doors, making connections, and giving  insight has truly helped this journey be less lonely and more possible. Lastly, I’d be  nothing without my customers. Thank you, thank you, thank you…….

Website: https://www.chefsherrisauces.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chefsherrisauces

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherrimitchell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chefsherrisauces

Other: https://www.pinterest.com/ChefSherriSauces/

Image Credits
Photo credits for the photo of me by my copper pots, the Piquant Peanut photo, and the Honey Roasted Garlic photo go to Belle Vie Photography/Amanda Maughmer

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