Women Who Lead

El Bosco’s Marcela Geer on Leaving the Corporate World to Start her Dream Catering Company

From startups to restaurants to high-tech corporations, women are taking the business world by storm and leaving their mark. This week, we speak to a former banker returning to her first passion—food.

Photo Credit: Ashley Gollogly

Marcela Geer and her best friend Ishmael Castro knew how to throwing a good party. They would bring the Latin food and decorations, but the events were moslty favours for friends. When the pair started receiving too many requests, Geer and Castro thought there might be something here. “We saw that there was great feedback,” says Geer. “People kept asking us to do more events and their feedback was so positive.”

After a few more tasting parties and an anonymous survey (for unbiased insight), the positive notes of admiration continued. The few notes to improve on—few and far between—were perfect additions for the business partners to move into launching El Bosco Catering and a food truck to go along with it. While expanding into a restaurant is not in the cards yet for El Bosco, the company is right where it needs to be with a solid presence at music festivals throughout the summer including Electric Island.

Geer, who used to work in a downtown office building but now works at El Bosco full-time, recently returned to the site of her old workplace at the bequest of the property’s manager. Only this time, Geer arrived with a truck full of tacos, empanadas and arepas.

Here, we speak to the business owner about transitioning out of a desk job, becoming a food entrepreneur, and her favourite places to eat in the city.

How did all this start for you? 

It started from my roots, my hometown. I wanted to bring a little piece of my roots to Canada and there’s no better place than the most multi-cultural city in the world. Even though I’ve been in Canada for 30 years, I always say that my mind is Canadian—because I was educated here—but my heart is always going to be Colombian. I’m from Barranquilla, which is a coastal town about an hour and a half  away from the popular tourist area Cartagena, and right by the water. That comes along with me everywhere I go.

What were you doing before El Bosco? 

I was a banker for almost 11 years at RBC. I started as a banking adviser, then I moved to financial adviser and then I became a manager of international banking. So much that I learned from banking is helping me a lot with developing the business that I have right now and trying to make it a successful business. A lot of the skills I learned in banking, are easy to translate to this industry.

Before my banking career, I was also in the hospitality industry. This is not new to me but I was never a caterer, I was managing restaurants and bars. I used to be a bartender and a waitress. I did all of that. I also attended Ryerson University, where I did hospitality and tourism management. So, I have a little bit of experience. I decided to venture into finance but hospitality pulled me back in.

Is this your full-time business?

This is my full-time life right now.

Have you thought about opening a restaurant? 

It’s not on my mind right now because with restaurants I feel like you’re very limited. I can be more creative [with El Bosco]. I can move through so many other places—I’m not limited to the space. I just find that it is more fun. It is more work because you have to be constantly creative, but by far, this is where I belong. A lot of people ask when is the restaurant coming, but this is what feels good to me right now. I’m not going to say never.

As a food entrepreneur, where are your favourite places to eat in the city? 

There’s a lot of cool little places that I love in Kensignton Market and a lot of Latin restaurants. I love La Paella in Leslieville. I love their carpaccio, the ambiance and the chillness. That’s where I feel most comfortable.

This interview has been edited and condensed.