Aly Pedersen

The Inspired Palate offers full-service custom catering and private chef services in the South Bay and surrounding areas. Chef-owner Aly Pedersen has worked in the culinary education and catering industry for the past 11 years, including with many high-profile clients such as the Los Angeles Kings and professional athletes. 

What is the #1 thing you do to make sure your business is successful?

When you have a small business, each and every client is valuable and important. We make sure to create a unique experience customized to the clients’ needs. We are especially good at creating dishes that are flavorful and fun but also fit a wide range of dietary restrictions. In southern California, it’s key to cater to a range of dietary requests. Everything from the food and service to special touches is what makes us stand out.

How do you encourage open employee dialogue?

I constantly ask for feedback from my sous chefs and team leads. Oftentimes we come up with solid solutions and ideas together. We test recipes, have honest communication about how we can improve, and simultaneously we put those ideas into action. 

Describe your leadership style.

I have always been described as a natural leader. I lead with trust, established between myself and my crew. I push my team to do great work by building them up with encouragement and support. Their achievements are a reflection of me, and I want nothing more than to see my team thrive. 

What has been A significant barrier in your career?

Work-life balance can be a struggle. This past year I made a list of nonnegotiables to stick to so I could have better boundaries and not feel overworked. In doing that, I have been able to enjoy my personal time more and not feel pressed to get everything done immediately. It’s made me a better person and business owner. Time to reset and refresh is vital! 

What are your favorite ways to stay grounded?

I was a competitive swimmer for 10 years and still lap swim several times a week. The pool is my sanctuary—a place for me to let go, unwind and just flow. Some of my best appetizer ideas have popped up mid-lap when my mind is fresh and free. There is nothing better to start the day! 

How did you come up with the name of your business?

When I started culinary school, my dad gave me his copy of The Silver Palate—my most treasured cookbook. Combining my inspiration and love of that cookbook, The Inspired Palate was born.

Photographed by Lyn Watanabe Photography