“Honestly I have a few influential chefs in my life. Of course the women in my family and also the women (friends and family) who’ve been in my life. Chef Kiera Moritz- Johnson was the first woman I worked for who showed me that you can be extremely successful, run and expand your businesses, take care of your team and guests, and still have a family and social life, so she is a big influence. Chef Natasha Fast is another woman who proves every day that despite how hard this industry is, we can continue to push through and break boundaries. Then of course chefs Therese Nelson, BJ Dennis, Charlotte Jenkins, JJ Johnson, Edouardo Jordan, Mashama Bailey, David Thomas etc. People who have shown that foods of the diasporas have stories that deserve to be told and shared and that it’s okay to be unapologetically who we are. More recently, my twitter tribe of chefs and culinarians have inspired me in ways that would take me a long time to list out.“
America’s Test Kitchen Intern / Owner – The Geechee Gordita
One or your proudest moments in your career so far, “I was one of the youngest and only women of color to be promoted into a managerial position for a very large restaurant corporation.”
Chef Amethyst falls into the category that is actually the majority and not the minority, a chef that didn’t attend culinary school. Contrary to popular belief the school diploma doesn’t make you a chef, and having one does not magically grant you skills or success. This idea is grounded in what she feels being a chef means to her as well, “Being a chef means a lot of things to me. It means you sacrificed and put the work in to be more than knowledgeable in not only handling food and dishes, but also dealing with staff and guests. It’s a title of respect that is earned and given once you have proven you are capable of running a successful team and business. Chefs are cooks at heart who are passionate about what they do.” Chef Amethyst has earned her title by putting in the work the last 10 years and getting to point where now she does freelance work for the number 1 instructional cooking show in the US (America’s Test Kitchen), as well as run her own business (The Geechee Gordita).
Working her way up the culinary ladder in the kitchen wasn’t easy, but luckily she was heavily influenced by strong women in her childhood that planted seeds for her success. “I wouldn’t say one person got me into cooking but I am defiantly influenced by my grandmother and great-grandmothers cooking. Growing up in the Low-country I was always around good food. When I got to college, I never expected to be in the food industry but once I started I didn’t want to get out of it.” This determination she inherited, and dedication to her craft also has shaped the way she views the culinary field and how others view her too. “I honestly haven’t met anyone that doesn’t take being a chef seriously. That may come from my age and just how chefs are viewed now because of the media. Many people want to be a chef, but most people see the glory and not the grime you have to go through to be successful. “
Having her specific perspective and taking the route that she took to become the chef she is today, her advice she gives to future chefs of the world is to “Put in the work.” “Truthfully, it’s a lot harder than what you’ve been told about it. Listen to those who’ve been doing this, absorb everything. Cook and research constantly. This is not a career field for people who are selfish. Invest in good shoes!” Which goes hand in hand with some of the biggest misconceptions she believes happens in the culinary world today as well. “Don’t think that you have to go to culinary school or have some sort of specific route of training to be a chef. A lot of people would argue this, but I’d argue that many of the greatest chefs of our time never went to the CIA or schools like it and have been just as impactful to our culture than those who have.” This is so important to understand, because some of the greats who have shaped the culinary field did not attend school. Luckily for us Chef Amethyst has the skills, talent, and a work ethic to continue shaping this field. This go with the flow Chef has some pop up events called “Sweetgrass and Sage” coming up soon as well as getting her Masters in Gastronomy. Good thing she relaxes by taking social media breaks, playing with her dogs, and pedicures because she needs it with the workload she carries.
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