Food Sense

The Queen of Vegan Queso

My Veg Life

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Energized and passionate, Chef Alana is a dedicated, Austin-based entrepreneur who loves her Nacho Mom’s vegan queso (she even cooks with it) and the process of getting it into others’ kitchens. A day in her life involves answering customer e-mails, prepping for a new cooking show, and caring for the animals in her wildlife habitat of a yard. Here’s a peek into her day:

4:45 AM: Wake-up, check email while drinking coffee. Do a few house chores.

6:00 AM: Manage my certified wildlife habitat. This means de-chlorinating water daily in water drums (so no tadpoles or frogs die), putting out feed, and checking on the baby birds. There is also an 85% chance that someone brought me an animal that I need to doctor - usually of the avian variety. Today, it is someone’s loved but sick rooster. You can get your own certified wildlife habitat (or make sure that your backyard is wildlife-friendly).

6:45 AM: Make fast cheese grits with Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso to eat with leftover tofu scramble. Share some with the dogs. Shower & get dressed.

8:30 AM: Grab my bag, and it’s off to work! I manage 6 wonderful employees who are family to me. Today the green chiles were far too hot (they vary more than I’d like) so they were exchanged. We also began making shipments for our Northeast Whole Foods region, as well as our Southwest.

11:00 AM: Home for lunch and nursing the rooster. Eat a GoMaxGo Bar and a vegan chili cheese dog (that would be Nacho Mom’s for the cheese of course!). Read the mail.

1:00 PM: Back at work. Interview with TCU (my alma mater) magazine. Send jars of Nacho Mom’s to a vegan Halloween charity event in California. Check on another shipment, answer customer emails (my favorite thing!), prepare direct ship orders for 5 stores, inventory incoming supplies, and buy a labeler part.

5:00 PM: Drop off 3 cases of product to help Bastrop Wildfire victims who lost their homes and belongings. Include dog & cat food in the box.

6:15 PM: Drop off an order at Wheatsville, a local grocer. Nibble on their Popcorn Tofu and stock up on more Daiya cheese, almond milk, and Tofurky pizzas.

6:50 PM: Make dinner at home: burritos made with Nacho Mom’s Voodoo Queso (a creamy bean dip/queso fusion), sautéed onions, avocado slices, vegan sour cream & salsa rolled in warm tortillas.

8:00 PM: Meet with my producer at my house. I am blessed to have been chosen by a producer and host on an A&E television show, for his new cooking show, which brings vegan & specialty diets mainstream. We’ve been working on the pilot for 3 months. I have an Emmy award-winning production team. I pinch myself. Daily.

10:00 PM: Doctor the rooster, play with my dogs, break up a cat fight. Do the dishes and the laundry - and don’t even think about working out tonight!

Chef Alana’s Three Key Tips for Managing a Growing Business

    Do what you love and the money will follow. So will greater opportunities!
    Network. You never know where your next lead will come from or what you’ll learn. At the very least, you’ll make new friends.
    Think of your business as your adopted baby. Be a protective mama bear, the one who has to stay awake late nursing it, the one who loves to talk about it. If you do, your business will grow from your nurturing.

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