Naz Santiago | Correspondent
Black Apron is a catering business with the mission of “bringing good food to good people.” This has been a growing business that caters to events and holds plate sells, founded and operated by Caleb Parker, a fourth-year majoring in sociology. Black Apron is also a food page created by Parker on Instagram with the intentions of bringing a community of food enthusiasts and food influencers together.
Parker grew up watching the food network and cooking, picking things up as he went. He spent a lot of time thinking about his future which emerged the idea of creating a food business.
“It all began March 11, 2018,” Parker said. “I was thinking about future plans and things of that nature, and what I really wanted to do with my life and different skills sets that I had. I know how to cook, I thought, why don’t I try to create a food business.”
He taught himself cooking techniques and used his resources as an NC State student to further his experiences in the kitchen.
“I taught myself a lot of things as far as techniques,” he said. “And once I got to college I was able to navigate the kitchen more and I practiced different recipes because the kitchen was more accessible to me.”
Parker made the Black Apron page which gradually grew, attracting food enthusiasts.
“I started cooking in the apartment,” he said. “People said the food was really good and that I should post it so I created another page.”
Black Apron specializes in wings and mac and cheese, this is what he calls his signature dishes and go-to.
“I do an assortment of dishes, so it’s like, I range from vegan dishes, different cultures and even fusion dishes where I mix cultures and everything like that, wherever my mind lands on really,” Parker said.
Keeping up with food trends can often be important in the catering business. Parker keeps up with trends and tries not to restrict himself when coming up with dishes as well as get creative with what he thinks his customers would like and what they respond best to. He also likes to push himself to think outside the box.
“I love experimenting with food,” Parker said. “I really enjoy it. I don’t mind doing the extra work.”
Peers in the food scene have been a source of inspiration for Parker.
“Peers influence me, and I live in the south so you got all this southern food around you and we got all these different tastes that all just collide into one,” Parker said.
Black Apron has been growing as a business, as well as Parker as a cook and his Instagram page.
“My page has grown and reaching 1,000 followers has been a milestone because I remember when it was a hundred, and every follower has been organically got,” Parker said.
Different opportunities and events have manifested along the way for him due to his growth, an unexpected growth, that is. There is a lot of hard work and effort put into Parker’s dishes, he is very passionate about his intent with every meal he cooks.
“With every meal, I want people to experience a piece of happiness because I put in a lot of passion and soul so that people can taste the work that was put into it.” Parker said.
His goals for Black Apron are to keep growing and to keep moving forward, and possibly branching out, and reaching a larger audience.
“I would like a chain, and to branch out into different avenues, whether it is a food truck, restaurant, contracts with big businesses, wherever it may take me,” Parker said.
Branching out into different styles of restaurants with different dishes and menus is something he says might be a possible outcome or a long term goal for his business. As for himself, he would like to continue to learn the art of cooking and increase his skills.
As the operator of this catering business, and also being a college student, Parker states that it is very time consuming doing both at the same time.
“It is very time consuming, but it is a burden of love because it is something I deeply enjoy,” the student turned chef said. “So I happily stay up until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. marketing content or creating new recipes or prep work.”
Black Apron has continuously been recognized and growing around campus due to Parker’s perseverance and all of his hard work.
“The difference between a dream and a goal is all the work you put into it to make sure that dream is fulfilled into reality,” Parker said. “You have to learn how to adapt with life and with business and keep going and perseverance, is all what you need to succeed in anything.”