Why She’s A Top 40: She knows when it’s time to shift her focus. “You need to recognize when it’s time to go big or home. You have to adapt.”
Key To Her Success: Always looking for the next step. “Success means you don’t ever feel like you’ve arrived. It’s about the desire to push forward.”
Amanda Babichuk’s business card says she’s a “creative warrior” at d’Lish Urban Kitchen & Wine Bar. It’s a title that could apply to her whole life, as it aptly describes her ability to respond to change with creative flourish.
The birth of her son was one such sea change. In 1996, 16 and pregnant, Babichuk was exasperating her parents and making only special guest appearances at school. The birth of her son, Cole, was her “big wakeup call,” she says. She went back to high school, graduated as valedictorian from Terra School for Pregnant and Parenting Teens and went on to earn a degree from the University of Alberta’s School of Business.
In 2006, Babichuk started working for Edmonton Economic Development. “I fell in love with Edmonton again,” she says. “I learned about the vast pool of entrepreneurial talent and creativity here. I wanted to be part of it.”
In November 2008, Babichuk made another giant shift, from employee to entrepreneur, when she opened d’Lish Urban Kitchen. A visit to Simply Supper, a locavore meal assembly kitchen, where customers make take-home meals from fresh prepared ingredients, had given her the idea for a similar business that would use locally sourced foods. In the end, the catering side of the company, which Babichuk had assumed would be supplemental, became her bread and butter. “Our focus was fragmented,” she says. “So we closed the books on meal assembly.”
This past September, d’Lish shifted again to add a restaurant and wine bar to the catering. With a permanent staff of 19 and a fluctuating catering staff of up to 40, Babichuck’s ability to adapt to the demand of the market has been a boon.
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This success has allowed her to give back to the city. She has raised more than $10,000 for the resource development board of the Terra Centre for Pregnant & Parenting Teens. She and Cole, now 14, volunteer in the kitchen at the Mustard Seed, and d’Lish supports fundraising events with pro bono catering services and silent auction donations. She estimates d’Lish provided gifts worth $15,000 to a variety of charitable causes in the past year.
Last year, Babichuk was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Women of Distinction awards and Alumna of the Year by the Terra Centre. She counts these as proud moments, but she says the other less tangible markers of her success – such as watching her son play the tuba in band or hearing her parents say they are proud of her – are even sweeter.