Michigan Chronicle, Small-Business Spotlight

Culinary Associates creating a legacy for family and great business

By Patreice Massey


The Michigan Chronicle is profiling small businesses that have participated in the Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) program. This is another article in a series aimed at increasing African-American awareness and participation in programs that can aid in the expansion of their businesses. Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC), a public-private initiative developed by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), provides Michigan businesses with new and creative methods in purchasing, selling, raising capital and connecting with one another. This week, we talk with Frankie Brooks, owner of Culinary Associates, a certified Michigan Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) supplier. With more than 25 years of experience, the professionals at Culinary Associates have impressed even the most distinct of palates. Their full-service company has won the hearts and taste buds of a diverse client base, providing a high-quality catering experience that offers an assortment of fresh, flavorful and locally sourced ingredients in their menu options. From corporate catering and concierge services to event planning and hospitality consulting, Culinary Associates, does it all with excitement and elegance. “I have a passion for cooking and a passion for service. Combining those two was natural in terms of a career choice. I outgrew my position managing someone else’s kitchen/team and knew that it was time to create my own space in the market. I have a strong desire to provide quality food and service to Metro Detroit and the global consumer market. Additionally, I want to create a legacy for my family, and a strong, reputable business is a great way to do that,” says Brooks. As positive as he is, Brooks acknowledges that there are some challenges in being an MBE. He states, “In the beginning, we struggled with accessibility to contracts and defining our customer base. The lack of a definitive marketing strategy made it difficult to find our niche. We have a desire to understand our customers and have them understand us so we can grow and they can look good. This could not happen without the right type of promotion and relationship building. We also dealt with a lack of an appropriate facility to manage food production and insufficient capital.” Brooks discovered PMBC through a local event held by the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers of Michigan (PTAC) and has been very excited about the possibilities this program presents. “This program has restored my confidence as a business owner. I have also been able to develop networking and leadership skills. The exposure has allowed me to learn from different circles of people with whom I did not have previous contact.” Brooks advises companies looking to take their business to the next level, to not expect that an opportunity will fall into your lap. “Anyone who is thinking of participating in this program should expect that people will assist in providing guidance, if they ask and are persistent. It is important not to make the assumptions that partners are familiar with your company and can anticipate gaps. PMBC will help you to identify and correct gaps, but they will not do the work for you. It takes a great amount of self-motivation and determination. If you have that, you will do well.”