I had the pleasure of meeting Shay at Glamboss Power Mixer hosted by Lillie Mae of LillieMaePr. Shay had a spread of her signature items the Apple Fritters and Crab Cakes, so I had to stop by and taste. When I tell you the crab cakes was the bomb.com they were delicious…
I decided to follow-up with her after the event, for Meet the Authors in October and wanted her to cater. But I had to put the spotlight on her and her business so we can hear her story so others can get INSPIRED.
Check out her interview below….
Tell us about yourself and your company.
I am originally from Seattle, WA. I made my way to Atlanta, GA for college. I received my undergrad degree in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University. Then I went on to obtain my Master’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Keller University.
In 2000, I owned a catering business called LeChae’s Event Planning and Catering. Some of my clients were Delta Airlines, Charles Schwab, Coca-Cola to name a few. In 2007, my lifelong dream came true I opened my first restaurant Atlanta Dish Café. That’s when I developed my product line Divine Kuizine. My best seller is my bottled Remoulade Sauce. My customers love it, it’s a high demand product. With the help of my mother, I created Sugar Spice. Sugar Spice is used for our fried apple fritters and sweet potatoes fries.
Last year March of 2016, I returned to the culinary world to promote Divine Kuizine. Developing and creating my own cuisine line has always been my vision since 2007. But with life detours, it became my reality again in 2016.
How did you enter the world of entrepreneurship? At what age did you know you wanted to become a chef? Who inspired you?
Entrepreneurship runs through my family bloodline. Starting with my grandmother. She owned a beauty salon and my mother owned several businesses as well. I knew at an early age I wanted to become a chef. I didn’t recognize and hone in on my skills until I was 16 years old.
I can say I was inspired by several members of my family. My mother was always making teas, sauces, and spice mixtures and I would be right there in the kitchen watching every step. I learned how to mix flavors together to create wonderful dishes. My father is a native of New Orleans, his food was always seasoned well and very soulful. And I have a family of cooks, so it really does run through my bloodline.
Now that you have your own specialty cuisine line are you looking to expand in the retail market? Or add some more items?
Yes, I am definitely looking to expand my line. I have a meeting with Buford Farmers Market. Next year I plan to get my cuisine line in gourmet specialty stores. In 2018, I will roll out more sauces and spices to the market. My goal is to have an array of spices, sauces, and frozen food items.
I’m all for my female entrepreneurs making moves and supporting one another. I know that’s not always the case. What challenges have you faced?
Yes, back in the day when networking and mixers when it was a thing. I attended events but there was never a connection with other female entrepreneurs. Since I’m back in the mix of things, networking and meeting other female entrepreneurs has been great with positive outcomes. I want to have more encounters and opportunities to collaborate and network with like-minded women. But I feel GOD will bring the right people into my life for this to happen. So that I do not get caught up in cattiness..
Some challenges I have faced in business were figuring out how to market my product online and in retail markets. How to market on social media. Just recently I learned about social media before then I knew nothing about it. Not until March 2016 when I started Divine Kuizine gourmet line did I have any reason to use social media.
Have you received the support from friends/family that you expected?
I have received enormous support from friends and family. They are very supportive so I am very thankful for that.
For the busy woman who has work, kids, extra-curricular activities and just living life but wants to cook more. What is a simple yet tasty recipe for her to put together in the kitchen?
Busy Mom – Chicken is always a winner quick and easy to do and the whole family usually loves chicken. Pick up a Whole Rotisserie Chicken. Make some Kale -chop up about 1/4 onion, garlic clove, salt, pepper, butter about 3/4 cup water and let it steam for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Cook some Kale – chop it up about 1/4 onion, garlic clove, salt, pepper, butter about 3/4 cup water and let it steam for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Cook some rice. Bake a potato with favorite toppings. Or mash potatoes I like to mix russet and red potatoes, milk butter salt and pepper.
Estimated cooking time: 30mins or less.
What’s your specialty dish?
I do not have a specialty dish. I love to create all kinds of dishes. I would say I cook a lot of Asian Cuisines stir-frys, fried rice, and Thai food. Cajun/Creole red beans and rice, catfish. Kale is my number one go-to veggie.
What is next on the horizon for you? Any events, conferences, or conventions coming up soon?
Top priority right now is getting my products in specialty and gourmet stores. I have an event on July 23, 2017 Taste and Tell Expo at the B Loft in Atlanta. I have partnered with Food Network Stars Chef Pondera and Chef Tregaye for this event. Mental Health of America will be there to bring awareness to mental health. We will have vendors, chefs, food manufacturers, life coaches, and personal trainers. Chef Ponder and I will have a cooking demo. It will be a red carpet affair.
Do you have any encouraging or inspiring words for our entrepreneurs who are interested in being a chef or entering the food industry?
Yes, for aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs never give up. Always keep GOD first. Ask him for guidance. Listen to that little voice inside. Practice your craft, learn as much as you can about your industry. Be ready because you never know when that opportunity may be knocking at the door.
Thank You, Shay, for sharing your story and Shay’s Food Journey. I wish you much success in your future endeavors. I look forward to hearing from you when you expand Divine Kuizine.
Where can our followers find you and stay up to date with what you have going on?
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