Hosea Rosenberg: Chef and Owner, Blackbelly Market

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Hosea Rosenberg is the Chef and Owner of acclaimed restaurant and butcher shop, Blackbelly Market, located in Boulder, CO. Rosenberg opened Blackbelly in November 2014 after years of training under established chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Kevin Taylor, and Dave Query. The experience he gained, combined with his competitive work ethic, pushed Rosenberg to achieve national culinary fame when he won Bravo TV’s Top Chef, Season 5, in 2009. To date, Chef Hosea has won numerous additional accolades including: Best Chef of Denver International Wine Festival, Guest Chef at the James Beard House, and he was recognized by the United States Small Business Administration as a business owner inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation.

How did you get into the industry?

This all started for me as a way of paying for school.  I paid my way through college by working nights and weekends in restaurants. It didn’t occur to me that being a chef was a career choice until after I realized I was much happier doing it than working as an engineer.  Life is too short to spend all of your time doing something you don’t enjoy.  

Any emerging industry trends?

Back to basics – transparency in everything that chefs/bartenders/managers do.  From meats, to vegetables, to techniques – the best restaurants are telling their customers how they do what they do.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Plenty of both.  Rising rents, minimum wage hikes and insurance laws are making it very hard for small businesses to stay afloat.  Margins are in the low single digits for most restaurants and when labor and overhead increases by large multipliers, it makes it that much tougher.  Conversely, there are more networking opportunities and group think tanks popping up all over the place that really help industry people think as a team and work off each others’ successes.  There is a ton of help for the small restaurateur if he or she knows where to look for it.  

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

This all started with a farm and a catering company.  I wanted to have a hand in every step of the ingredient’s life before it ended on the plate.  As my company grows, we keep the ideals that I started with – that everything on the plate tells a story. The name Blackbelly comes from a heritage breed of sheep we used to raise.  Transparency in what we do helps us keep to our mission.   

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Opening a restaurant in Denver next year.  A cookbook.  Expanding the current restaurant.  A private label line of culinary products.  

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Word of mouth has been our single greatest asset. Minimal traditional advertising, but a very active PR/Marketing approach with a big focus on social media.  Hiring and training the best possible employees we can find that share our vision and consider the culinary arts a viable career path.  

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Growth without losing the quality.  I used to be watching over every single thing the team worked on.  We have grown to a point I have to trust my staff and management to pay as close attention as I would.  It’s not easy and it’s not always right.  So my biggest challenge is to keep the team motivated and focused as I am.  

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Ideally we exceed their expectations of what our business is all about.  I want them leaving the restaurant completely blown away by the hospitality.  It should be memorable.  

How do you motivate others?

I try to lead by example.  I am always pushing myself to be the best.  I show them that I came from nothing and achieved my successes through hard work and motivation and that anything is possible if you stick to your dreams.  

Career advice to those in your industry?

Every day counts in my industry.  You are only as good as the last plate of food you send to a customer. Your personal life needs to stay out of your work.  Everything you do is adding to your total worth.