We’re thrilled to have another Hera Hub member featured in the Phoenix community! Christy was also featured as a speaker at Women Who Startup #Basecamp Phoenix earlier this year. See full article on Voyage Phoenix
Today we’d like to introduce you to Chef Christy Harp.
Chef Christy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have been a professional Chef for close to 19 years, having worked at many Restaurants and Hotels, and performing pretty much every job there is in the Food and Beverage Industry. I got the name Tiny Little Chef when I was trying to come up with a new email address in Culinary School at The Art Institute of Phoenix, and my Dad said, “well, you are tiny, you are little, and you are going to be a Chef.” So, right then and there, Tiny Little Chef came to be. In Culinary School, I was known as “The Master of Seasoning.” I know how to make pretty much anything taste delicious! I love trying out new flavors and in my head, I can nail a flavor profile in about 5 seconds. In fact, the only seasoning blend I ever had to make more than one batch of for the initial recipes is my Chaco’s Chile Lime, because it was made for a different company, so I created multiple options for them to choose from.
In 2004, I decided to step away from the restaurant industry, and start my own meal delivery service. I had some amazing clients, and I quickly started getting requests to do large, private Caterings. I did everything form baby and bridal showers, to large fundraisers, to huge corporate events. I loved it, but it was a lot of work.
I married my Husband, TJ, in July 2012, and in February of 2013, we found out I was pregnant. I continued to do Catering’s, but being pregnant took a toll on my small frame, and I began having contractions almost 3 months before my due date, and the contractions had to be stopped. We already knew I had to have a C-Section, due to a very contracted pelvis, so my Dr. ordered me to stop Catering, and with mixed emotions, I took a step back. I kept cooking and making new recipes in my own home, but I felt like I needed to do more, so I worked on recipes, and published some eCookbooks before, and after, my son was born.
In 2015, I created a recipe membership website, and started uploading hundreds of my recipes for my clients, including those for my house, Blackened and Italian Seasoning Blends. Well, they were a hit, but I kept getting asked if I could bottle them up. Using my restaurant and catering connections I sourced the best possible herbs and spices, created some labels, and found some great packaging. I mixed them up, bottled, labeled and sealed them, and posted about them on my social media platforms. Within a month, I had sold 1,000 bottles and it was right then and there that I knew my life was about to change and that my career was about to take a hugely different path.
Here’s the thing about healthy eating… if it tastes good, you’ll eat it, right? And there is absolutely NO need for the junk that is found in many other seasoning blends. I refuse to use any sugar or dairy, there are no preservatives or additives, and unlike other companies, I won’t even use “flow agents”, meaning that in some of my seasonings that have peppers (they have a naturally higher moisture content) you “may” see clumping, and that’s good thing! Just break it apart with your fingers or a fork!
I have 15 blends, but being a mostly one-woman show (Cactus Candy co-packs 4 flavors for me), I do not have all flavors in stock all the time, so I always encourage you to keep an eye out on social media for posts about my seasonings, as they are announced there first.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Heck, no! There have been so many ups and down in my career, so many struggles trying to figure out which part of my talent to use and capitalize on. I loved Catering and Meal Delivery but man is it hard and a whole different animal. It took a lot out of me to produce and deliver all of these different meals or to manage a big catering staff and a million tiny little details. I was recently interviewed for Women who Startup and I told them that my one piece of advice is to listen to what people are telling you. If I had not listened to my clients’ requests to bottle my seasoning blends I wouldn’t even be here right now.
Sometimes, you have to get out of your own way in order to succeed at what you’re made for., but it is hard to walk away from something that you built from the ground up.
Please tell us about Tiny Little Chef.
As of right now, Tiny Little Chef has focused on one thing, my Handcrafted Seasoning Blends. In the past 2 years, I have built a raving fan base over my all-natural blends, and the growth has been off the charts. My seasonings have a 97% re-order rate and I have received rave reviews from everyone who tries them. I dont skimp on flavor and a little goes a long way.
I have a wide variety of flavors, but my 4 best sellers are Taste of Arizona, Inflammation Buster, Chaco’s Chile Lime (created for local drink mixer company Chaco Flaco) and House. My seasonal best sellers include Chili, Pumpkin Spice and American Apple Pie, and I rotate through other blends as my production capability allows.
All of my Handcrafted Seasoning Blends are…
All-natural and organic.
Certified Gluten Free by Food Safety Net Services.
Free of sugar, dairy and preservatives.
Low or no sodium (4 contain sea salt).
No non-caking agents like silicone dioxide… clumping is a GOOD THING!.
Herbs and spices imported from around the world.
I believe in quality and I refuse to skimp on any ingredients.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Well, that’a tough question! The first thing that popped into my head was playing on the beach in Coronado for hours on end. In fact, Coronado is still my happy place and I love being on the beach.
The other thing that popped into my head was being in the kitchen with my Grandparents in Prescott. My Nana was a fabulous baker and my Papa was an excellent cook.
- Website: www.tinylittlechef.com AND www.tinylittlechef.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/tinylittlechef AND www.instgram.com/tlcseasonings
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/tinylittlechef