Danielle Christine is an executive chef, entrepreneur, business consultant, and writer—and all-around foodie. Passionate and purpose-driven, she spends most of her time managing her two farm-to-table restaurant concepts, working on her upcoming novels, and dreaming up her next business endeavors.
After spending three years of her undergraduate career studying architecture at the University of Idaho, Danielle found her entire career path shifted after stumbling upon the opportunity to move to Nicaragua for a year. During this time, she worked in rural health clinics on the Emerald Coast in a community known as Las Salinas, and taught art classes at a local elementary school.
Adapting to “Nica-Time,” as the locals call it, changed Danielle’s worldview forever. Her unrelenting school and work schedule was replaced with daily yoga in the jungle, kayaking to the ocean to watch the sunset, and eating a mostly plant-based and completely organic diet. This experience was the catalyst to Danielle’s journey to wellness, mindfulness, and intention.
Following her return to the states, Danielle was compelled to change her major to Kinesiology with an Emphasis on Human Performance and Nutrition, and graduated with minors in English, Communications, and Fine Arts. She spent the next several years working her way up the corporate ladder while earning her Masters in Business Administration from Boise State University, and quickly learned that would never be enough for her to live a fulfilling life. After much introspection into her own purpose, her love of art, and her passion for food, Danielle took a leap of faith that launched her into her career as a restauranteur.
Danielle founded her first restaurant concept, Haute Foods, in 2020, where she still serves as the executive chef and president of the company. After just under two years of operation, Danielle was presented with the opportunity to purchase what was left of an existing restaurant space in the beautiful, Boise North End. The new concept is known as Apericena, featuring casual, upscale European dining with a focus on fresh, local ingredients and seasonality
Danielle’s intuitive and authentic approach to life is fueled by a desire to help others find alignment within their own lives, discover their passion, and turn that passion into purpose. Regularly investing in local non-profit agencies such as The Garden City Placemaking Fund and City of Good, it is Danielle’s intention to serve as a creative resource to those in need of creative guidance and support. When she is not in the kitchen, of course.
Where did the idea for Haute Foods come from?
The framework for Haute Foods was built in the heat of the pandemic after a leap of faith that would put me on the fast track to becoming a restaurateur.
Having directly managed the dreams of others for a decade, it was time to invest my talents into building my own dream. I left my day job in 2019 to open my first restaurant, Miraflores, at the Capital City Farmer’s Market. A modern twist on authentic Peruvian food, Miraflores was unlike anything else in the city. Everything was ready for our opening weekend, and then, the unimaginable happened.
A sudden onset of symptoms proved to be much more significant than I could have possibly imagined. At just 26 years old, I developed blood clots throughout my entire body, which made their way to my lungs as two saddle pulmonary embolisms. After weeks in the intensive care unit, it was safe to say opening a labor-intensive start-up wouldn’t be an option for some time. I spent the next several months recovering and I promised myself that next year would be the year.
With a new perspective on life and an appreciation for the limited time we all have to live it all, the pandemic wasn’t reason enough for me to stop moving forward. Haute Foods was a major pivot from my initial brick-and-mortar concept, but I had to adapt. As a new business owner, omitting the 2,000 square foot brick and mortar space, front of house staff, and place settings meant Haute Foods presented significantly lower financial risk than Miraflores. Operating from a commercial kitchen also meant low startup costs, and without investors, this offered a further sense of security.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Sleep is a major necessity to me. I’ve learned through experience that I’m just not the type of person that can operate on less than seven hours of sleep. Once I understood that, I quickly realized that I am most productive in the morning, and I’ve tailored my schedule in response to that. A morning fitness routine also has the most positive impact on my day, and improves my energy level and performance across the board.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ve found building a lifestyle that affords me the time and freedom to acknowledge moments of inspiration when inspiration hits makes all the difference. Ideas are fleeting, and so are moments of inspiration, and you have to capitalize on them when they present themselves.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Wellness is not a new concept, but most people now view wellness through a much broader and more sophisticated lens. For the first time ever, wellness is trendy. Getting regular physical activity, prioritizing mental health, paying attention to the foods we use to fuel our bodies, and getting adequate sleep at night are just a few examples of this. I love to see those around me focusing on better health, better fitness, better nutrition, and better mindfulness.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs can often get lost in a sea of ideas and opportunities. As a result of taking on too much, they fail to actualize the goal they set out to accomplish in the first place. The habit of focus and removing distractions allows me to stay on track and file the other opportunities that have presented themselves to me for later. At the end of the day, focus means saying yes to the task at hand, but it also means saying no to the things that will not help me get to where I’m trying to go–now.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There are less qualified people than you doing things they want to do all over the world, because they took action. If you want results, don’t be afraid to take the first step, and don’t let perfection be the reason you never started. And most certainly don’t let a lack of resources stifle your resourcefulness.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The pronunciation of the word caramel.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Take photos, often. Record behind the scenes videos of all stages of your journey. Don’t wait for the perfect lighting, the perfect angle, the perfect moment. Forget about editing out what you deem as imperfect. Document life is it really is for you, now, and appreciate those imperfections—because they are what make the journey real. When we are living in and experiencing moments of immense growth and change, it can be difficult to remember exactly how far you’ve come. Document everything, and give yourself something to remember.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Waiting until I reached burn-out before hiring additional support staff in our initial growing phase was a major learning lesson. There were two of us responsible for getting Haute Foods off the ground, and the business’s growth was rapid and substantial. Though we were grateful for it all, we just didn’t have enough support to sustain it alone, and the market for the right candidate was bleak. Everything seemed to go wrong all at once because we were completely exhausted. Quality was decreased, errors were made, and our mental sanity was pushed to the limits. Though it was a tough lesson to learn, I’m grateful to have learned it early on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Take the time to get to know yourself and what truly sets your heart on fire. Ask yourself: What makes you the most excited? What makes you the happiest? It is easy to do things because someone, somewhere along the way told us that is what we needed to do, but success and happiness come when we are the most true to ourselves.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Moments after scrolling past a sponsored Facebook ad, I purchased tickets to Citizen Cope’s Anniversary Tour at the historic Egyptian Theater. There was a time not so long ago when stepping away from work filled me with immense anxiety. My response was to just keep working, which quickly led to burn out. Having experienced that, I make it a priority now to do things outside of work that keep my cup full, knowing whatever project I’m working on is going to be there when I get back. I’m more productive, I’m more creative, and I’m a better leader and friend when I make it a priority to take that time for myself.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Monday.com allows me to manage my team from anywhere at any time, in the most methodical and detail-oriented way. The platform also provides a level of personal accountability I have yet to find with any other digital management system. Adding in Monday.com to my management structure made all the difference for us while giving me freedom to work as I please from anywhere with a wifi connection.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Go-Giver helped me to develop nearly all of my business philosophies, and had a major impact on the type of business owner I would eventually become. I’ve read the book from to back at least ten times, and I recommend this book to anyone considering starting a business.
What is your favorite quote?
“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
Glennon Doyle, Untamed
- When working towards actualizing your dreams, understand that you have options in the ways in which you get there.
- Know when to pivot and forge a different path forward rather than giving up on your dream because your first choice didn’t work out the way you wanted it to.
- Curate your schedule based on when you are most productive and prioritize self-care throughout the process.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.