How Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen built a beloved Charlotte brand from the ground up—and how you can, too

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Like most Charlotteans, when I first moved to the city, I had a Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen cooking class at the top of my Charlotte Bucket List. On a Wednesday night in March, I found myself side-by-side with people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. From couples on their first date to out-of-town inlaws, Chef Alyssa had enticed all types of locals.

This is the heart of what the Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen culture and brand does. They bring a sense of community and adventure to each class and truly allow each participant to become fully immersed in the experience.

This is why our marketing agency, TalenAlexander, wanted to sit down and chat with Chef Alyssa and Andrew, the people behind the Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen brand. We wanted to learn their secret sauce to building an engaged online audience and customer base that so expertly enamored an entire city.

In 2013, when the South End neighborhood was just starting to grow, the first Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen cooking class took six months to plan and had only three participants. With a desire to create meaningful relationships and experiences for their customers, they started out calling on friends to help increase class numbers. Now, they are moving to a larger space in a few short weeks to better serve their growing business.

So, how did Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen grow their brand from a cooking class of three to corporate events and catering? Read on to find their top three tips to #LOVEYOURBRAND.

Be Authentic

Did you know that Chef Alyssa and Andrew have a cat named Ann Perkins, named after the beloved Parks and Rec character? This is the type of factoid that not only makes them incredibly relatable, but downright likable. They are incredibly down-to-earth and genuinely love sharing their passion for great food and great experiences with every single person who walks through the door.

This genuine authenticity has allowed Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen to grow their social media presence and build an enviable online platform through their grassroots approach. That’s why you won’t find highly stylized photos of expertly plated food and posed portraits of customers. Instead, you get a truly behind-the-scenes look at their daily lives, customers actively participating in their classes, Chef Alyssa’s foodie creations, and the experience that ties it all together.

In fact, if you’ve ever been to one of Chef Alyssa’s cooking classes, you might have seen yourself pop up in their Instagram stories as Andrew takes quick snaps from each class. Andrew said their customers really responded to the family feel of their brand, especially since Chef Alyssa and Andrew have worked to not simply build a customer base, but truly cultivate a community.

Be Aware

Chef Alyssa in action. Photo by Diedra Laird.

At Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen current Atherton Mill location, you will find a classroom surrounded by rustic-looking booths boasting fresh wares from family farms. This is where Alyssa and Andrew source fresh-from-the-field, seasonal produce for their cooking classes that highlight local flavors. This sustainable approach to food and community is not only the cornerstone of her culinary and brand philosophy, but is also indicative of a cultural shift in the marketplace. There’s a current need for wholesome, healthful food that’s sustainably and locally sourced for those who are not only aware of their own wellbeing, but their community’s as well.

Being aware of this marketshift as allowed Chef Alyssa and Andrew to not only deepen their Charlotte roots, but to meet the needs of a more conscious-minded community. While Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen isn’t a health food haven (chocolate souffle, anyone?) she focuses on real and organic ingredients that are as close to nature and unprocessed as possible. In a world of Instagrammed green smoothies, Chef Alyssa is aware of the ongoing wellness trends and even caters to diet-specific classes like Paleo cooking, however she always remains true to her foodie roots. This is Chef Alyssa’s idea of balance: real food cooked with real ingredients.

Be Adaptable

In just a few short weeks, Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen will move into their new home just a couple miles down the road from their current South End location. Their new location will feature not just an expansion in their physical space, but a true broadening in every aspect of their current business. Chef Alyssa and Andrew are adapting to the needs of their customers by providing a a second classroom where they can teach additional workshops, host birthday parties and rehearsal dinners, kids classes, and company events.

Another way Chef Alyssa and Andrew are adapting to the needs of their customers? They will soon be making it easy to snag wholesome dinners on your way home from work with their new family table meals. They will also be upping Charlotte’s brunch game with Saturday morning brunch after Chef Alyssa has spent the past two years creating drool-worthy cuisine every Saturday morning on NBC. Their adaptability has allowed them to connect with their customers in a new way and help them meet the challenges of everyday life like feeding your family after a long day at work or finding a new way to connect with your loved ones in their cooking classes.

How Can You #LOVEYOURBRAND?

At TalenAlexander, we build brands and we build businesses. With Charlotte roots and a global reach, we help clients create authentic engagement, reach new audiences, and break through the marketing noise.

Check out www.talenalexander.com/c5 for top industry tips and tricks to increase your brand’s engagement.

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