OWNER OF RAY’S GOURMET SMOKED FOODS
Ray’s Gourmet Smoked Foods was born out of a desire to help break poor generational eating habits, specifically in communities of color where access to healthy alternatives has historically been an issue and continues to be one today.
Ray Sims, born Myron Ray Sims, is originally from Omaha, Nebraska and grew up with 9 siblings. He was raised by his parents who taught each of their kids to be independent at a young age, which included learning how to cook. Ray mastered his BBQ craft over years of just enjoying it — both eating and cooking. His passion to shift from traditional BBQ recipes (which are often very rich with fat and sugars) to healthier versions happened after his brother contracted COVID-19 and passed away in June 2020 due to underlying health issues. Ray understood that his 63-year-old brother might have had a chance of recovery had he led a healthier lifestyle, including through the food choices he made.
Ray turned the loss of his brother into a mission to help break the cycle of bad eating habits in communities of color. “I was tired of seeing people of color disproportionately dying from bad eating habits and the lack of access to healthy food.” While he was already selling smoked meats at events as a side hustle, he decided to turn his passion into an official business. He attended RMMFI’s Business Launch Boot Camp (Aurora Class #5) in 2020 after hearing about the program while in culinary school, and he officially opened Ray’s Gourmet Smoked Meats in May 2021.
The fact that RMMFI provides both business development and lending services was a big motivator for Ray. When he graduated from boot camp, he took out a Launch Loan not because he needed it but because he wanted to build his credit within the business. Ray used his loan to set up the pieces he didn’t have before with his side hustle, like registration and insurance, knowing that being fully certified would open more opportunities.
Ray is working with partner organizations in the nutrition field to make sure he can continue to create a shift in how people enjoy traditional BBQ — the same taste, just cleaner and healthier. Ray’s food doesn’t include any hormones, steroids, or antibiotics, and all of his meats and vegetables are locally sourced. He’s partnered with a number of local food suppliers and nutritionists who share the same vision he does.
For Ray, serving food is ultimately about serving people. He believes that if he can provide his services to help people, the money will come.
Ray’s Gourmet Smoked Foods is located at 18545 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora, CO. Food is available for dine in or delivery Tuesday-Saturday.