Originally published on The Industry Cosign September 23, 2015
Soul Food; two magical words to people who enjoy the richness and exquisite taste of cuisine that has its roots deep in the south. From all walks of life, people of all ethnicities indulge in variety that spans from vegetables, to meats and definitely, dessert! As one who has a southern background, I can attest to the joys of the freshly made sweet potato pies, smothered chicken, collard greens and any and all variations of just about anything that can be grown or bought at a supermarket.
As we all know, with the good comes the bad and southern cuisine is definitely a major contributing factor in many of the health issues people have today because of what we eat, how we prepare it and the amount we usually, literally, stuff into our bodies. But, did you know that soul food can be enjoyed without the detriments I just mentioned?
Chef Velvet is solid proof and a practitioner of Vegan Soul Food. She has built her successful business utilizing a method that most don’t even know exists! After having a successful venture at the recent Visit Baltimore Family Reunion Expo, she took time to talk to The Industry Cosign about how she got started, being a celebrity cook and talks about a program she started and the purpose of the organization.
What led you down the road to Vegan Cuisine as your specialty?
Growing up, I never liked meat, my mother used to find meat from dinner in my pocket. As an adult, my nieces and nephews were born vegan, I wanted to be able to provide tasty fun meals for them.
You just did a segment at the Visit Baltimore Family Reunion Expo in Maryland. How was that experience and how did the people react to your brand of preparing food?
The experience was amazing, exciting and fun, Baltimore showed us a lot of love. The audience loved the food and many who have never tasted vegan food, left with a change mind towards veganism.
You’re a Co-Founder of the program,‘Vegan in the Hood’, could you tell us what that is and the purpose for starting it and if you have any future plans as far as branding/promoting it?
VITH was birthed in order to assist the youth and their families in underserved communities to learn how to prepare healthy, enjoyable food at an affordable price. We build gardens in conjunction with Green Scheme, which allow the community to utilize home grown free vegetables to prepare meals.
You’re labeled a ‘Celebrity Cook’, is your mindset different when preparing food for them as opposed to ‘average’ people?
Not at all, we give every one of our clients the celebrity treatment. Our goal is to make everyone feel our love through our food
And speaking of celebrities, you are Erykah Badu’s personal chef. How challenging is that, if at all? How were you able to land that gig?
I am one Erykah’s DC Metropolitan chef, it’s not challenging at all, I think I challenge myself more than she ever has. She is one of the sweetest individuals I know. I became her chef through a mutual friend
As an entrepreneur, how do you separate (If you are able to/need to) the talented cooking skills from the business of running a business?
I don’t think I do separate the two. I love to cook and I love to run my business, it really does not feel like work
As a Vegan food preparer, is it hard gathering food for you to prepare? Is it as hard as us ‘regular’ (And when I say regular, I’m not calling you irregular or different) folk thinks it is to purchase and find the ingredients to use for a Vegan meal?
No, it’s not hard at all. you will be surprised that just about any non-vegan meal can me “veganized”
What motivates you to continue running your business and preparing cuisine?
Creating jobs for the youth in my nonprofit VITH. My business allows me to provide a careers motivates me.
What is THE absolute best thing about what you do?
Seeing the smile on the faces of my clients after enjoying one of my meals, and introducing the vegan food experience to non vegans