OKC Thunder Makes Hist0ry With Tulsa’s Entrepreneurs

The NBA playoffs start next week, and you can go ahead and throw your brackets in the trash right now. We already know who the champion is.

The Oklahoma City Thunder is hands-down number one in our book.

Why, you may ask, are we so sure of this fact?

Before you go there, no, it has nothing to do with Russell Westbrook (although yes, we did lose our voices while cheering for his recent, record-breaking triple-doubles).

Here in Tulsa, we are unique in the fact that we have long rooted for a team that was not allowed to engage with us directly.

“Up until last year the NBA limited teams from doing any direct marketing outside a 75-mile radius of their home arenas,” explained Dawn Turner, director of marketing and brand management for the Thunder.

But a recent adjustment of league rules changed that.

“Now that the rules have relaxed, we have the ability to facilitate brand marketing, advertising and community programming in Tulsa, outside of the preseason game we play at the BOK Center every October.” (Side note: This year's preseason game at the BOK on Tuesday, October 3 marks the ninth time the team has played in Tulsa!)

But the team has done so much more than just marketing in the Tulsa metro. They’ve started truly investing in our community.

The Thunder has built basketball courts in underprivileged neighborhoods. They’ve visited schools. But most thrilling for us, they’ve partnered with 36 Degrees North, our nonprofit coworking space for entrepreneurs.

36 Degrees North houses over 200 startup founders and small business owners who are dedicated to building amazing companies and adding jobs to our local economy. Before this season began, the Thunder expressed a desire to support these innovators by giving them a chance to take a break from business and treat their families.

The team graciously gave our community tickets to home games, and as you can see in the attached photos, it was a huge hit.

“This was my parent’s first Thunder game. Watching their faces was amazing,” said 36°N member Gaby Ortega, who went to the April 12 game against the Nuggets. “We had a blast.”

Through the new partnership, the Thunder business team also wants to invest in our community by working at our space and interacting with our people.

"Our hope is that our members will take advantage of their presence by building relationships and learning more about high-level business development," said Dustin Curzon, executive director of 36°N.

“We anticipate continuing to build upon these efforts in the years to come,” Turner added.

But why would an NBA team want to serve entrepreneurs in a coworking space over a hundred miles from where they play?

“The Thunder play in Oklahoma City; however, we view the team as belonging to the entire state and region,” said Turner. “36 Degrees North embodies an innovative and progressive cultivation of new business and serves as the center of entrepreneurial activity, all of which align well with Thunder brand values.”

So as much as we love winning ball games and celebrating Westbrook’s endless supply of triple-doubles, we believe the Thunder is so much more than that.

A lot of teams have loyal fans, but not every fan has a loyal team.

We do.

And that’s why the Thunder is our champion.

 

Can Anyone Be a Coder?

Like any 20-something with student loans, potential opportunities to pad my bank account usually catch my eye.

The latest of these such opportunities arose last summer when I started working at 36 Degrees North. It's the hub of a lot of innovation, and most of that innovation is fueled by computer programing. So, needless to say, the place is packed with coders and efforts to increase coding education.

Through a few conversations with friends and my new coworkers, I discovered two things: 1) Coding is not reserved for rocket scientists and those little geniuses who build computers from scratch when they’re 7-years-old. And 2) Those who code make bank. We’re talking very comfy starting salaries that would easily make ramen and easy mac a thing of the past. Holla atcha boy.

So this got me thinking... Is this a career path I should explore? I didn’t suck at math in high school, and I know a fair amount about technology... Don't get me wrong, I love my current job. But maybe my interaction with these computer programmers was the universe telling me to branch out a little bit. Could I be a coder? Can anyone be a coder?

While enjoying a few cold ones on a Friday afternoon, I told our member Wassim about my recent ponderings. Wassim is a computer programmer who created his own app, so I knew he would have some legitimate insight. And sure enough, he did.

He told me about a national non-profit he was bringing to Tulsa called RailsBridge. The mission of RailsBridge, according to their website, is to "teach people to code because we believe that the people making technology should accurately reflect the diversity of those using it." In other words, they want to make coding education accessible to a more diverse crowd, specifically women and minorities.

RailsBridge Tulsa students and volunteers. Jan 2017.

RailsBridge Tulsa students and volunteers. Jan 2017.

The class Wassim was teaching was free, only for women and a 5-minute drive from my house. The only thing I had to give up was a Friday night and a Saturday. No prob. So I decided to jump in and try it out.

Here were my thoughts going into the weekend.

 
 

As you can see, I started this process with a fair amount of optimism. 

The first night was  just to install all the (software? programs? still not really sure what all that stuff was called) onto our computers. Here's how that went.

 
 

But it's amazing what a good night of sleep can do. Cue rejuvinated optimism.

 
 

As I mentioned earlier, Wassim Metallaoui was our fearless leader who brought the RailsBridge program to Tulsa and taught a room full of gabbing women the first steps of coding. Here's what he says were his goals were for the weekend.

 
 

A few things I love about what he says: 1) He doesn't expect everyone to be coders by the end of this. Such a relief because (spoiler alert) I will probably never be a coder. Just walking away with a better understanding of coding is success in his eyes. Yay! And 2) Wassim has a real desire to help people get plugged into the computer programming world. He wants to open the door for women and usher them in with the utmost encouragement. This guy is great, and you all should meet him and become his friend.

Moving on...

We spent the morning learning more about programming. We covered the history, elaborated on the key terms and started taking some action steps on Ruby (a computer language) and Rails (a computer framework). And as you can see, I hung in there.

 
 

I think my favorite part of the whole day was wondering around the room during breaks talking to women about why they were there. We had about 20 women in our class, and they all had a unique perspective on why coding is important in their lives. Here are a few words from the kind souls who agreed to go on camera.

 
 

As you can see, the response is overall very positive!

The rest of the day was spent using Ruby and Rails to create a computer application. I won't get into the nitty gritty of it all (quite frankly, because I'd probably mess it up), but at the end of the day, my program worked. So I would consider that a victory. I may or may not have treated myself to some "wow, I survived that and I should celebrate" ice cream after recording this last video.

 
 

So as a short answer to my original questions, yes. I believe anyone can become a computer programmer. It's not rocket science. It's just something that will require a lot of time, effort and mental energy. So if you're up for the challenge, I would say go for it!

Our team would love to help you get plugged into Tulsa's vibrant programming community. The next RailsBridge class is June 16-17, 2017. It's free and open to the public, but space is limited. Click here to reserve your spot.

Till then, we encourage you to check out these different monthly meetups to meet coders of all skill levels and get a little exposure to the growing industry:

Happy coding!

Embracing the Risk of Leaving the Cubicle

36°N Editors Note: We're excited to announce The Persimmon Group as our newest community partner. The following is a note from their founder and CEO Bill Fournet on why the company decided to come alongside us in our mission to support Tulsa's entrepreneurs.

In 2001, I left my corporate cubicle with my box of standard cube art items—family photos, awards, and lidless pens—and stepped into controlling my future. My safety line of a steady paycheck, benefits, stability, and retirement was cut.  What had I done?  For me, it was a no-brainer:  I was done with feelings of constraint and under-appreciation, along with their friend, futility.  Staring into a future of unknowns with a wife and two young children (with a third unknowingly on the way), as the single income-earner for our young family, there was a daunting aspect to this.  But, I had the confidence that no matter what, it would be okay.

Flash forward three years of solo work, and I was ready to start something more. I formed The Persimmon Group in 2004, along with another area consultant who shared similar philosophies about what the market needed.  We soon went to three people, then 5, then 10, and so on.  I was building something substantial in our company that reflected and lived the values and principles for which I left that cubicle back in 2001.  Now, 13 years later, there have been amazing people, clients, and projects.  There have also been tough years, travel from my family, and the weight of all my employees and their families on my shoulders.  Business is not easy.  Most think it looks cool, but run as soon as it gets tough.  If I had it all to do again, would I change my decision to start this path?  Hell no.

Bill Fournet, Founder and CEO of The Persimmon Group

Bill Fournet, Founder and CEO of The Persimmon Group

So, why did I do this?  Looking back on my life, there have been four things I have always done: 1) Solve difficult challenges, 2) Create things, 3) Take calculated risks, and 4) Help people realize their potential—personally and as a team.  From Boy Scout backpacking treks to school clubs, I threw myself into activities that hit all four of these.  Load up a U-Haul and move to Seattle without knowing anyone or a job? Did it.  Job in New York at MTV? Sure.  I share these, not to boast but because I believe these four items are the keys to being an entrepreneur.  You must be relentless in your pursuit of your passions, confident in your capabilities, and real with yourself to know learning is constant (and if you think you know everything, then failure is around the next corner).

Taking these four keys, I founded Persimmon with the desire to create a family of team members who, like a family, may not always like each other but must love each other (this was my lesson from my first job in Seattle at a local restaurant).  Persimmon is a flat organization where people may serve in different roles due to experience or expertise, but we are all equal as human beings—no one is better than another (this was a lesson from my parents).  And Persimmon works with its team members to support their family and personal needs—if someone is dealing with a sick family member or needs to attend a school event, we rally to support them for that (my personal belief that work is one aspect to life—and not the most important).

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are the front-lines of innovation, adaptation, and community.  They are intimate with their employees and give back to the places they live.  They sustain us.   And that’s why we are proud to be part of the 36 Degrees North family.  I support the challenge each member has taken on and thank our fellow sponsors for enabling this garden to grow.

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As part of 36 Degrees North's partnership with The Persimmon Group, 36°N members get access to free Persimmon classes, both online and in person. Contact us if you'd like to sign up for a class.

PLUS members can attend a special workshop with Bill at 36°N on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Reserve your spot here.

Supporting Tulsa's Entrepreneurs with Keep It Local OK

Anyone who knows us here at 36 Degrees North knows we’re all about keeping it local. We aim to support local entrepreneurs whenever we can by catering from neighborhood restaurants, buying local beer for happy hours, and giving gifts and goodies that are made just around the corner.

So, needless to say, we are thrilled to announce our new community partnership with the organization, Keep It Local OK.

Keep It Local OK sells cards that can be used to get a discount at retailers and restaurants throughout the state.

“We launched Keep It Local OK in Oklahoma City in 2010 with nothing more than a love for the great state of Oklahoma and its unique local businesses,” the organization explains on their website. “We believe that together, with other like-minded people, we can help build a better local community.”

Since they launched, Keep it Local OK has expanded into Tulsa. Their cards can be used at over 50 area locations for things like free popcorn at Circle Cinema, cheaper games at Escape Tulsa, free espresso at Chimera and a discount on items at multiple boutiques.

(Get a full list of Keep It Local OK participants here.)

“We exist for one simple reason - to help people discover the best local spots in town. With a Keep It Local Card you can get sweet rewards for keepin' it local and get the added enjoyment of supporting a great local business or discovering a new favorite.”

As part of the partnership, all 36 Degrees North members will get a complementary Keep it Local Card (a $15 value).

“Keep it Local celebrates entrepreneurs in the Tulsa community, so it’s a natural fit with 36 Degrees North’s mission,” said 36 Degrees North executive director, Dustin Curzon. “We’re excited to offer this benefit to our members and support entrepreneurs in our own backyard."

36 Degrees North Turns One!

Well, folks. 36 Degrees North is officially one year old. We celebrated our first anniversary on Wednesday, January 25, and boy did we have a lot to celebrate. The Tulsa Regional Chamber crunched a bunch of numbers and found that, in 2016, 36°N had a $12 million impact on Tulsa's economy.

That absolutely would not have happened without the support of all our partners, specifically the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Tulsa Tech, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.

Here are some other fun facts that we shared at our party:

  • In our first year, we had a total of over 300 members in 40 different industries.
  • We also welcomed 11,000 visitors to more than 275 events.
  • 25,000 cups of coffee were consumed in our first year.

A survey of our members told us that:

  • 30% of members hired a new employee in 2016
  • 56% of members took on new clients
  • 25% of members launched a new product
  • 78% of members met someone at 36 Degrees North who helped them with their business

Again, thank you to all the members and partners who made this possible! We can't wait to see with 2017 has in store.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo gallery and a video of some of our members literally stuffing their faces with cake.

Mo Time. Mo Money. 3D Mapping Provides Both

A Tulsa entrepreneur is changing the way architects and building owners do their jobs.

“Imagine this,” says Andrew Brister, founder of Andrew Brister Architecture + Visualization. “You’re a contractor or a designer or a property manager working on a project. And you’re in your office, miles and miles away from the site, and you realize you’re missing a piece of information. Your measurements seem off, or you forgot what a particular corner of a room looks like, or you’re trying to remember which direction a door opens.” Brister goes on to explain that you might have to drive all the way back to the site just to get that tidbit of information, in order to continue working.

“You’ve already spent all this time, money and effort, and you can’t get your work done, meet schedules and get paid because you have to go back out to the site. And it’s a drag,” says Brister.

That’s where his company comes into play. Brister creates 3D scans of buildings that his customers- and their teams- can access online.

“You can experience the site multiple times without even leaving your desk.”

Using various techniques and technologies, including what’s called a Matterport camera, Brister captures both interior and exterior 3D scans in full color. The scans are scaled and measurable and can be put together to create a full “doll house” model.

The end result is a virtual walk-through, kind of like Google Street View.

Brister says his work saves building owners and contractors both time and money. “We put [the scans] on the web for collaboration, and coordination, so that they can work better and come to resolution quicker,” Brister explains.

Andrew Brister with his Matterport camera. The images captured on this device create the model seen below.

Andrew Brister with his Matterport camera. The images captured on this device create the model seen below.

The virtual model can be annotated with notes and suggestions that a whole team can view. Clients can also look at Brister’s scans with virtual reality devices, giving the person the feeling of actually being in the space.

Brister says it’s been a long road to get his company off the ground. He says a big boost in his success came after becoming a member at 36 Degrees North, Tulsa’s nonprofit coworking space. “I have expanded my network to include people who have helped me in all aspects of my business. The have helped me stay on track and pushing as hard as I can to make things happen.”

Brister says his next goal is to raise awareness of his services and build his client list.

“All these are just first steps, but without [36 Degrees North], I probably would have given up or failed.”

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Editor’s Note:

Andrew is just one example of how our members are building innovative businesses and changing our city. If you’re an entrepreneur hoping to take your next step, we’d love to have you join our community. Come in for a tour and check it out.

Know a contractor, architect or building owner who could benefit from Andrew Brister Architecture + Visualization’s services? Email ab@andrewbrister.com.

Tulsa's Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016: RECAP

This year's Global Entrepreneurship Week was one for the books! Thank you to all the people who helped make it happen including the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, Kitchen 66, the Oklahoma Innovation Institute, Prodigy & Co, Tulsa Tech, GradeDeck, Cook Time with Remmi, Forrest Hull, Sooner Marketing Solutions, i2E, BetaBlox, 1 Million Cups Tulsa, utown, Project 1948, the Tulsa StartUp Series, the Forge Tulsa, the OSU School of Entrepreneurship Riata Center, and the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

Check out some of this week's highlights in this video created by Buddy FX.

How to Maximize Your GEW Experience

By: Dustin Curzon, Executive Director of 36 Degrees North

Global Entrepreneurship Week starts on Monday and it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s a celebration of Tulsa’s entrepreneurial community - the ideas, the companies, the people and the successes we’ve seen as a community over the past year. This year, we have an amazing, diverse set of events for experienced entrepreneurs and those just starting out. Here are 5 tips to get the most out of GEW:

 
 

1. Show Up
It’s easy to think that the best thing for your business is to stay home and work. While that’s sometimes true, it’s also crucial to the success of your business for you to learn from and network with people who can help propel you forward. You don’t have to go to every event - choose a few that are right for you and make them a priority in your schedule.

2. Come Up With 5 Questions to Ask
What hurdles are you facing? Who’s someone you’ve always wanted to meet in Tulsa? Most events will include Q&A time - this is a great opportunity for you to get answers from experts on your most pressing questions. Who knows, maybe someone else will have the same question.

3. Meet Someone New
Some people love networking. For others, it’s really hard. Guess what? Everyone else feels awkward too! So take a chance, find someone new at the event and find out who they are and what they’re passionate about. Remember those five questions from tip #2? Turns out, those are great conversation starters.

4. Bring your Partner, Investor or Customer
GEW is a great opportunity to spend time with your co-founder or investor and not just talk about how you’re going to survive another month. Use this time to talk about new opportunities and what’s next for your company. Plus, it gives you a boost for meeting new people.

5. Think About Next Year
One of the great things about GEW is that it provides an opportunity each year to reflect on the past and look towards the future. Where do you want to be by the next GEW? How are you going to get there? It’s time to set some goals.

It’s not too late to register for most GEW events. For times and locations, visit the Global Entrepreneurship Week Tulsa website.

See you there!

Fixed Gear Bike Company Moves Shop, Goes Global

A popular bike company is amping up its game with a big move to the heartland.

Wabi Cycles is a boutique bicycle company that designs and builds beautiful fixed gear road bikes. Unlike many bike companies, Wabi has no middleman, so they can offer customers the best possible product at a lower price.

Wabi Cycles was originally located in Los Angeles but was just moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma by 36 Degrees North Member Curtis Kline. Curtis says he was drawn to Wabi because it was owned by passionate people who made a fun, quality product. He decided to buy the company because the product had great reviews but was very under-marketed. Curtis says Wabi had no important ties to the Los Angeles community and could be located nearly anywhere, so he brought it back to Tulsa, his hometown.

Now, in addition to their brick and mortar store, Wabi Cycles ships bikes around the world. Curtis says, as the company gains global traction, he hopes to take Wabi to the next level by developing new bikes for genres like cyclocross and adventure touring. His ultimate goal is to make Wabi Cycles a big brand with a wide range of high-quality bikes.

WABI CLASSIC •Beautifully constructed bike at a great price •Reynolds 725 lightweight tubing •Hand tig welded frame •Superb component group

WABI CLASSIC

•Beautifully constructed bike at a great price
•Reynolds 725 lightweight tubing
•Hand tig welded frame
•Superb component group

WABI SPECIAL •Reynolds 725 tubing, lugged and brazed •Chromoly fork •The most comfortable Wabi to ride •Superb component group

WABI SPECIAL

•Reynolds 725 tubing, lugged and brazed
•Chromoly fork
•The most comfortable Wabi to ride
•Superb component group

WABI LIGHTNING SE •Columbus Spirit ultra-lightweight tubing •The lightest Wabi available •Carbon fiber fork •Great for acceleration and climbing

WABI LIGHTNING SE

•Columbus Spirit ultra-lightweight tubing
•The lightest Wabi available
•Carbon fiber fork
•Great for acceleration and climbing

WABI LIGHTNING RE

•Our only geared bike
•Columbus Spirit ultra-lightweight tubing
•Hand tig welded frame
•Carbon fiber fork

When Musicianship Meets Entrepreneurship

Musician. noun \myü-ˈzi-shən\ : a person who writes, sings, or plays music

The Webster’s Dictionary has a pretty basic definition of what a musician is. But what do you think of when you read the word musician?

You may think of a glamorous star living it up in Los Angeles or Nashville. A person who got a one in a million chance to make it big.

On the other side of the spectrum, you may think of a passionate yet struggling artist who works in a coffee shop during the day and plays at little, local venues at night. Music might be his passion, but it’s definitely not how he makes his living.

But is there a middle ground? Can a musician make a living doing what he loves without a huge record label behind him? And if so, how? How do you get people to hear your music without making it big or jumping from bar to bar, praying that someone will buy your CD?

One local musician would say it all starts with creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset.

Barron Ryan is a pianist known for his catchphrase “classic meets cool.” He recently recorded a new jazz album, and it. is. GREAT. Barron spent literally thousands of hours writing, practicing and recording the tracks for the album he’s calling “The Masters’ Apprentice.” He says the music is crafted to tell his personal story of resilience and to “encourage others who are struggling to know that someone else is going through the same thing and cares about them.”

 

But here’s the thing. No matter how good the music is, it won’t gain much traction without effective marketing and packaging.

Because let’s be real. A burned CD in a cheap, plastic sleeve doesn’t exactly say “legitimate artist.” If I took a great piece of expensive, Swiss chocolate, wrapped it in a generic chocolate wrapper and had some guy at the park offer it to you, would you take it? Of course not. It doesn’t matter how great that chocolate is. You’ll never know because of the way it was presented to you.

See, for an album to get attention, it can’t just have great music on it. You have to edit and license the music, design the album art, duplicate it, and then promote the music on various platforms to convince people that they can’t live without it.

And all of that, of course, requires a good chunk of money.

So our friend Barron is raising that money by launching a Kickstarter campaign. He’s taking on the challenge to be a creative entrepreneur- on top of being a musician- to take his product to the next level.

The process started long before the Kickstarter actually launched. Barron and his team created teaser videos for Facebook, did a fun, campaign countdown on Instagram, and hosted a big concert before ever pushing the button to make his campaign begin. And so far, it seems to be working. In just 12 hours, he raised almost half of his $10,000 goal.

He now has 17 days (until November 4, 2016) to raise the other half of his goal, and he’s confident he’ll succeed. Here’s why:

Barron’s theory throughout this whole process is that, if people are investing in his music, they’ll be more likely to care about his success. In his Kickstarter video, he tells potential supporters, “You have the opportunity to help take this project from my computer hard drive, where it currently lives, to the masses.” When we chatted with him the other day, he also told us, “With this Kickstarter, people can say, ‘Whatever success happens, I was part of that.’ And that’s a pretty cool feeling.”

So whether you’re a musician or another kind of entrepreneur, we encourage you to get out of your box. Think creatively. Find a way to build a team who wants to be part of your success. Barron says you’ll be glad you did.

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Don’t know where to start? We can help.
Want to contribute to Barron’s Kickstarter campaign? Click here.

Tulsa Teen Talks About Her Experience on the Food Network's Chopped

36 Degrees North Member Remmi Smith is a junior at Bishop Kelley high school. She’s also a chef and entrepreneur, known for her show Cook Time with Remmi. She started cooking when she was 7-years-old, and recently took her experience to the next level by appearing as a competitor on the Food Network’s Chopped: Teen Challenge.

We sat down with Remmi to hear about her experience and get an insider’s look at one of America’s favorite cooking shows.

Transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

How did this all start? Why did you want to go on the show?
I was actually contacted by the Food Network casting agency to be on Chopped Junior. Once we started the process, they realized I was too old for that show (the cutoff is 13, and I was 14 at the time). So then, about a year later, they called us again to say they were doing a teen tournament, and of course, it was something I couldn’t pass up!

Where is the Chopped studio?
It’s in New York City. They film the show right above Chelsea Market. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but Chelsea Market is beautiful. It’s incredible. They have all these different food shops and boutiques, and it’s a super place to explore. So after we filmed, that’s what my mom and I did. One of my traditions is, whenever I go out of town, I always get something for each of my siblings, so that was a perfect place to do that.

What did you have to bring with you and what did they provide?
They gave us the opportunity to bring our own knife set, but I don’t have one of my own, so they provided one for me. They also had every ingredient you could ever want stocked in the kitchen. The night before the taping, they took us on a tour of the pantry, so we’d be prepared. You absolutely cannot bring your own ingredients.

Walk us through the beginning of your day, before the competition began.
We met up at a hotel at about 7:30am and had breakfast there. You could tell everyone’s nerves were going. The room was pretty silent. Then the producers took us to the studio, and we put on our jackets and waited for the crew to get in place. While we were waiting, we got to talk to Ted Allen for a bit. That was SO cool. Then we did the introduction part a couple times (it's so fun hearing Ted read your bio), and they got a few shots of us opening empty baskets so they could get a close-up of our hands. Then we were sent out of the room while they put the actual ingredients in the baskets.

Is Ted as cool as he seem?
Absolutely. He’s a really chill guy, and he’s willing to help you if you need it.

Did you know the mystery ingredients ahead of time?
No, you don’t know what the ingredients are until Ted is announcing them. When that happened, my mind just really started to whirl.

So for those who didn’t watch the episode, what were your mystery ingredients in each round?
Appetizer:
Korean Short Ribs
Apple Green Tea Coolers
Gorgonzola Dulce (really fancy cheese)
Brussels Sprouts

Main Course:
Skate Wing (similar to a stingray; the meat is like a white fish)
Rainbow Pasta
Giardiniera (pickled, italian veggie medley- very bitter)
Bok Choy

Dessert:
Pate A Choux (light pastry dough used for cream puffs)
Cherry Tomatoes
Balsamic Jelly
Chocolate Milk

What was your strategy?
To make something I already knew. I didn’t want to go out of the box and get too crazy. The Chopped Kitchen is not the place to experiment with new techniques, so I went the safe route.

Were you nervous during the competition?
Actually, I think I was way more nervous beforehand. But once I actually started cooking, everything just came to me naturally as if I were at home. I mean, that clock was awful! But other than that, everything felt pretty normal.

How long do you have to wait between each round?
You get judged right after the round is over, and then you sit in that back room for about 30 minutes while they clean up and decide who’s going to be chopped.

When you're watching on TV, and they’re about to chop a contestant, there’s suspenseful music and a long pause. Did you actually stand there in awkward silence for that long before Ted announced who was chopped?
Yeah. And he actually does a few takes saying “And the person on the chopping block is…” without finishing his sentence. It builds a lot of anticipation!

For those who don’t already know, how far did you make it in the competition?
I made it to the dessert round, so I got second place.

Where does that exit hallway lead to?
It leads you to a door at the back of the studio. I actually had to do my exit a couple times so they could get the shot just right. One time, I almost walked into that sliding glass door because I wasn’t paying attention. *laughs* But it was fine.

How long did it take to shoot the episode?
About 14 hours. I started at 7:30am and ended at about 9:00pm. Then the next day, I had to go in and shoot all those interview segments that you see during the cooking part.

Oh, so you taped all of that after the fact? Not between the rounds?
Yeah, there’s a producer who watches the competition and writes down every little thing that happens. Then she jogs your memory the next day. At first, it was a little bit weird because they want you to speak in the present tense. But once I got going, I really got into it, and it only took a couple hours.

Do all the competitors get some sort of prize?
Nope. For the teens, even the person who wins that episode doesn’t win anything. Only the overall tournament winner gets a prize.

What were the judges like?
I was actually super scared of Maneet [Chauhan] before the competition because, from what I’ve seen in the past, she’s really focused on transforming the ingredients. I was scared that I wouldn’t change them enough for her… but evidently I did! Aarón [Sánchez] was super chill. He’s a really nice guy. And Scott [Conant] is one of the most wise judges. They don’t show you a lot of the stuff that they say to us- because obviously there isn’t time. But he gave us such good advice.

Did anything about the experience surprise you? I’m sure you did a ton of research ahead of time, so was there anything that threw you off?
The timing really caught me off guard. I thought 30 minutes would be plenty of time to do something, but when you’re in the kitchen and the pressure is on, it goes by so quickly.

What was your favorite part?
I loved talking with the judges. They are culinary experts, so getting their feedback on my food was crazy. It’s honestly unbelievable. I also liked getting to meet other chefs my age who can cook at a gourmet level. It was really inspirational, and it challenged me to get better.

What was your least favorite part?
Getting Chopped. *laughs* I really had the best experience. Oh, but… I did have a mini freak out in the dessert round. Thankfully they didn’t show it on TV. I was trying to find this pie tin, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I kept asking the crew if they could show me where it was, but they wouldn’t answer. It made me really frustrated. That was really the only negative part.

What’s next for you as a chef, as an entrepreneur, and as a student?
As a chef, my hope is to start a food blog. I think it’s a really neat idea to share my recipes on a wider platform. Plus I think it’d be really fun because I like talking to people about food, and that could be an easy way to do that. As an entrepreneur, I’m working on an advertising push for the Chef Club Box, to really get the product out there. And as a student, standardized testing is my next big battle. *laughs*

What would you tell other kids who want to be chefs and maybe end up on Chopped some day?
I think the best thing to do is go with your gut. If you really have a passion for something, you should go for it. A lot of times, other people will say you’re too young or too inexperienced. What you need to do is prove them wrong. Go out and get experience. Go out and research and learn and then, ultimately, prove them wrong whenever you’re on Chopped :)

Editor’s Note: Do you want to meet Remmi in person? She’ll be appearing on a special panel for Tulsa’s Global Entrepreneurship Week on Tuesday, November 15 called “I’m a Student Entrepreneur.” Click here for more details.