“We all eat. We travel. We cook. I'm taking an idea and making it work rather than settling for a regular job." Known locally in South Florida as the “Spice Dude,” Keith Lorren is the founder of an online culinary website he launched this year to sell his branded spices. He claims his love for cooking comes from his great-grandfather, who ran a successful oyster shack in St. Augustine in the days before desegregation. Lorren got an early start: as a high school student, he baked cakes, pies and pastries for three local restaurants.
After graduating from Nova, Lorren (M.B.A. '06) traveled to Japan to stay with friends. Returning with spices and made fried chicken for friends and family, he realized that food and spices were his true calling. Working for the Abu Dhabi Education Council in Dubai, Lorren shared cooking tips and meals with co-coworkers, and explored the region to learn about the culture. He chronicled his experience through a scrapbook of photos and notes. "Communicating through food is a great unifier; I enjoyed the cultural interaction."
Lorren continued his world travels by meeting with and cooking alongside professional chefs. As a way of thanking people he met, Lorren sent a personal note and a pack of spices he used for cooking the meals. This gave him the opportunity to promote his spices and gain cultural knowledge from local residents. Soon, by word of mouth, his spice blends became items of high demand. "I didn't realize this was becoming a business.”
Today, Lorren uses his website to brand his spices, Keith Lorren Seasoning Blends. His scrapbook of travel adventures has become a multimedia smorgasbord of blog posts, recipes, photos and videos for cooking demonstrations. Visitors to his site can learn about the places he's been, the people he met, his cultural experiences and culinary encounters. He has copyrighted the line, “I invented cooking” to show through his passion for foods and flavors he can recreate ordinary dishes into the extraordinary.
Currently Lorren is finishing classes at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. to "polish my kitchen skills, make connections and add to my authority and experience.” After winning school competitions of his own, Lorren is working to change the lives of those who share his passion for cooking. He is offering a $2,000 cash prize to the individual who makes the most creative use of his spice mixtures. Any student, chef, or home cook may apply at keithlorren.com.
After graduating, Lorren plans to work with social media and television network to teach the world about ethnic cuisine. He also broadcasts cooking shows on YouTube and posts his recipes online to help folks get their creative juices flowing. His recipe for success: "don't do anything you're not passionate about.”
Lorren attributes his business savvy to Nova and the education he received while he was a student here. Professors such as Dr. Leslie Tworoger, were instrumental in his management course, giving him the fundamentals to market himself in his present venture. Lorren says that his Nova degree has polished him for the career of his choice and no matter what career path he may choose his business degree will be invaluable.