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Making Dough with Spencer Perdeck

(Photo of Spencer Perdeck By Bachi Frost)

While everyone is trying to "Get that bread," Spencer Perdeck of Hollywood, Florida, is making dough. More specifically, Challah Dough. Challah is a traditional Jewish egg-based bread served on the Sabbath (Friday nights) and holidays (except Yom Kippur and Passover). While the world effectively shut down in the face of COVID-19, Perdeck illuminated the South Florida area with his business Chollywood Challah.


How has COVID-19 changed your life?

Completely. I was living in New York. I'm currently living in Florida now. So I'm in a different state. Because of COVID, I started my own business out of boredom. I think my whole perspective on everything is entirely different. I've become such a hermit. I'm a very outgoing person. I love to hang out with my friends and, and, and do a lot of things. I mean, living in New York, you never have a moment to stop. You always go, go, go, go, go. Fun, fun, fun work, work work. So that stopped.

And honestly, there's a silver lining. I never thought or expected that I'd ever be the owner of a small business. I've learned a lot already. And it's only a little over three months since I started it. And it's grown so much so quickly that it's cut me on my toes, which has been fun and keeps me busy.

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What was your career before Chollywood Challah?

I'm an actor, which at the end of the day means I have many careers. Work me is very fulfilling. But before this, I worked for Hillel at Queens College in New York City doing student engagement and community building for two years. While I was in college at NYU, I worked at SoulCycle.

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What is Shabbat?

Shabbat ,also known as the Sabbath, is a holiday that happens once a week, celebrated for 25 hours from Friday at sundown to Saturday night.

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What does Shabbat mean to you?

Shabbat is a period of renewal and celebration of the week's end and the beginning of a new week. It's's celebrated in different ways by all different types of Jews. I think it's beautiful that Shabbat can observe in any way you want. Traditionally, people don't use technology, drive or spend money during that time.

For me, Shabbat is the time a person usually spends with their family. It's a nice breath of fresh air. I look forward to weekly ceremonies to light the candles and bless the wine and bread. Something is comforting about tradition. I always say it's not Shabbat if you're not full after.

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What lessons from your careers at soul cycle and Hillel help with your business?

SoulCycle is a high-volume environment where you deal with lots of people all at once, and everyone's needs need to be met. It's a hospitality brand where I learned how to be quick and efficient. At Soul Cycle, it's about having the customer in mind. It a place where you treat everyone at the utmost level of hospitality, and it's something I've learned there that I take in with me today.

Hillel is all about community engagement. Hillel is a place where you get to know who you serve and create memorable experiences. I apply to this my business when I make my bread. So with my Challah I, it's not just Challah; it's about creating a whole experience about Shabbat from the time you fill out the form to the time you receive and eat it. Hillel taught me how to elevate everyday occurrences to awe-inspiring experiences.

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How did you come up with the idea for Chollywood Challah?

It just happened. I was in my apartment alone in New York for three months, and I wanted to make Challah for Shabbat, but I didn't because I would have eaten the whole thing by myself. When I ended my time in New York and moved back home to Florida, I knew I wanted to make Challah with my parents. So I started making it ad it was not very good. But every week, I just kept working on it, and it began to get a little bit better. I kept tweaking the recipe, and I arrived at something so delicious.

It was around Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year typically occurring from late August- mid-September) when I finally came up with something good. My family had Rosh Hashanah with my aunt and uncle, and they said, " This is so good; you need to sell this." I said, " Absolutely no, this is not my career path."

A month or two after Rosh Hashanah, my parents and I visited my sister Jillian in Orlando, Florida, where some of my mom's friends had tried some of it. They said, " This is so good; you need to sell this." I said, " Absolutely no, this is not my career path."

I was in Atlanta for a month where I was floating and spending some time with friends. It was there when I decided that I'm just going to start selling my bread. I had nothing to do and nothing to lose. So I said, why not?

As far as the name, I think I just came up with it in the shower. I come up with all my best ideas when I'm in the shower. I'm from Hollywood, Florida. So I thought Challah is a CH, but it's pronounced as an H sound. And Hollywood has an H sound. So I thought, why not add a C in front of Holywood. I just came up with I was like, I kind of love this, and I stuck with it.

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How has starting Chollywood Challah changed your world view?

I never thought that I would ever be the owner of a small business in my whole life. Because of my business, I began to gain an entrepreneurial worldview perspective. When I watch Shark Tank, I now look at it from a different perspective. I understand entrepreneur's approaches, rationales, and business objectives. I apply the lessons I learn from Shark Tank to my business. I like all the different aspects of running a business and keeping a high-quality product while being economical.

I have more of an appreciation for other businesses ' products and work. We're in the day and age where we can order mass-produced products on the internet. But because I own a small business, I'm more inclined to order products from small businesses. And it's cool to see how small businesses do everything with purposefully thought from idea inception to design packaging.

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What hard and soft skills have you acquired since starting a business?

I'm currently a one-person show. As such, I'm wearing a lot of hats, which is exciting and sometimes stressful. I'm beginning to understand brand management. As a small business owner, I am making a product and managing a brand experience through social media and customer service. I have friends who tell me that I can be a brand manager. It boils down to that I realized that I express my creativity through acting, baking, or marketing.

Who is your biggest influence?

I've always admired Julia Child. When I was in high school, I saw Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I became mesmerized by Julia's tenacity and willingness to fail. She didn't know what she was doing. Her attitude is the best kind of mentality to start anything new. I applied this when I began Chollywood Challah. I thought I'm just going to follow my gut and learn as I go. That's kind of the spirit that Julia Child had.

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What inspires you in the kitchen?

My customers. During these interesting times, most days seem the same. My goal is to try to bring back the joy of Shabbat, for them has been exciting for me to see them in. I want them to not only enjoy the bread but enjoy Shabbat. I think it's a different experience to get Challah from the supermarket than having someone personally deliver it to you. You'd be surprised how much time it takes to make each Challah because I want each one to be delicious. SoI make each Challah loaf an individual loaf.

Another thing that inspires me is podcasts. I love to listen to a podcast while I work. I love listening to Brené Brown, Chameleon, and How I Built This by Guy Raz.

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What are your company's goals?

Our goal is to keep improving the product and evolving as a brand. Each week, I take a moment to step back and reflect on what happened this week. "What did I do?" "What can I do better?" "What can I add?" I try to add new things to my product and approach the brand. It's all about baby steps and growing organically and incrementally as I go. I'm in the baby step mindset, and I know that I'm not going to be a fortune 500 company overnight.

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How have you incorporated your values into the company?

I want my brand to be approachable for all spectrum of Judaism and non-jews. I think it's important to recognize Shabbat. But, I don't expect my customers to follow it or enforce it. I'm just here to allow to be present people, enjoy good bread, and elevate their Shabbat if they choose to.

Sustainability is another value of my company. I care about the environment. It's the reason why I stopped eating meat a year and a half ago. I'm always trying to think about how I can be as sustainable as possible, which is challenging, especially in our day and age when everything all ingredients are in plastic. When I was looking at my packaging, it wanted something sustainable. So the bag that I use is compostable. And it has a liner inside, but it's plant-based polymer, so it acts as plastic but is not plastic and compostable.

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Where do you see your company at the end of 2021?

Because of volume and demand, I see us moving into a commercial kitchen. I would love to begin shipping Chollywood Challah nationwide.

(Logo of Chollywood Challah)

Although I have never had eaten a Chollywood Challah, I know this bread takes the cake. Follow Spencer on his Journey at and order your Chollywood Challah at .

*edited for length and clarity


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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