If you’re familiar with the blog, you know that I started a Black-owned business directory in 2020 to amplify Black voices and entrepreneurship in our community. It’s been so amazing to watch this list grow with so many incredible businesses. To celebrate Black History Month, I want to go a step further and get to know a few of the business owners listed in the directory. Check back weekly to learn about someone new!
When I first found out about Shenice Scott and her business, Munchy Guru, I was so excited to see Jamaican food being offered in Kingston. I would previously ask my dad to grab my favourite patties from a shop in Toronto whenever he was in the area! Not anymore! Munchy Guru’s patties are perfection – so flakey and flavourful and the jerk chicken is awesome, too! Shenice is also an incredibly thoughtful and giving person. We are so lucky to have her in our community. Learn a little bit about her journey as a small business owner in Kingston.
Tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Shenice and I’m a self-proclaimed foodie. I’m passionate about trying new foods, and staying up-to-date on food trends. I view food as the most holistic form of medicine that heals the mind, body and soul from the inside out.
When and why did you start Munchy Guru?
The more I get asked this question, the more I realize that Munchy Guru has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I don’t have any formal culinary training, however, my life experiences to date have been preparing me for the chef life. Growing up, I didn’t watch cartoons like most kids. I got excited for the Food Network. After school I would rush home to make elaborate snacks, and eventually dinners when I was able to reach the stove. When it came time to select my path for post-secondary education, my traditional Jamaican family pushed me towards what they thought was a responsible career. I ended up going to the university of Windsor where I studied psychology. Although I didn’t go to school for the culinary arts, I cooked every chance I got. I would host weekly dinners with friends, and they became quite popular. This is when the idea of opening my own restaurant first started to become a little more clear. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to pursue the idea any further as my responsibilities in life required me to focus on my career in psychology. Like so many others my job was negatively impacted by COVID-19 and I had to figure out other ways to support myself. With the pandemic at play I knew I needed to come up with something truly essential. I noticed that the Kingston area had a surprisingly active food scene. For a smaller city it surely has its fair share of restaurants and talented bloggers that frequent them. However, the food scene in Kingston lacked in ethnic diversity and I saw it as an opportunity to make my mark. I figured I couldn’t be the only person in the area craving more diverse rich flavors. In late March 2020 I created the Munchy Guru Instagram page and started reaching out to people. I offered to make Carribean dishes and it wasn’t long before I was invited to do my first pop up event.
I moved to Kingston for a job opportunity late November 2019. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, I was laid off from that position only 4 months after moving. Thankfully I used this opportunity to explore my passion for cooking, this is when Munchy Guru started to take off.
What has it been like growing your business here?
The simple answer to this question is that it’s been amazing, the city of Kingston has such an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a small community and I feel like I’ve been embraced wholeheartedly. Other small business owners have been so willing to share information with me. Customers are loyal and have been amazing in spreading the word about my services. Even when I make mistakes, I can feel the support of the city behind me encouraging me to keep going.
Advice to aspiring business owners?
The best thing you can do for your business is to mind your own! Don’t get caught up comparing your newborn business to one that’s fully grown. Despite the message social media forces out, there is no get rich quick scheme to grow a business. It takes time, dedication and most importantly, consistency.
Anything you’d like to add?
If you have an idea, believe in it, protect it like it’s the last bite of your favourite meal! You have to be your biggest cheerleader, your own number one fan. When people give you negative comments or try to sway you from your path use that as motivation to keep going. The light is not at the end of the tunnel, it’s in a switch on the wall that’s right beside you waiting to be turned on. There is never going to be a time like this again just go for your dreams. You owe it to yourself.
“If you have an idea, believe in it, protect it like it’s the last bite of your favourite meal!”
– Shenice Scott, Munchy Guru