Pursuing the Art of Taste

SHANAI IMG_6195

City: College Park, MD
Occupation: Student & Tutor

Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m Shanaí, a senior Biochemistry student at University of Maryland. Go Terps! Aside from being a student, I also enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, listening to music, and cooking of course! I’m a very positive, free-spirited, and energetic person.

When and how did you learn to cook?

image5As a home-trained chef, I learned to cook from many sources. I come from a large Caribbean family with a long line up of chefs and I have always been surrounded by lots of food. Family has really been my first teacher. I also draw inspiration from cooking shows like Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, and also from other foodies and food blogs.

What inspires you about food?

Food is one of those amazing connections that anyone can enjoy regardless of social constructs and barriers. I’ve always loved creative arts and cooking is one of the most enjoyable ones. It’s amazing to create something that evokes memories or feelings through taste.

What/where is your favorite place to eat?

Aaah. It’s hard to narrow down just one place or food!  Seafood is one of my favorites, mainly shrimp, crab, and image3sushi. I also recently tried ceviche, which is a South American raw spiced citrus fish dish, and loved it. Some of my favorite places to eat are Sardis, Hibachis, Blue Dolphin, and, Olive Garden.

How and why has food become such a large part of your life?

After struggling with losing and maintaining my weight almost my whole life, I’ve finally accepted that eating healthy and nourishing your body is much more important than counting calories or stressing over weight or size. I started my Instagram food page, @TheArtofTaste, last year as a way to cook and eat more nutritious and less processed foods.

What would your last meal be?

Definitely some type of Alfredo pasta with lots of shrimp and crab.

Where do you get your recipes?

The best recipes I’ve gotten have come from family. I also use online recipes from use Food Network, Recipes.com, Food.com, and Bon Appétit. I also get recipe from my favorite Instagram food blogs like @myhealthydish, @thekitchenista, and @ecsince80.

image6Why do you think there is such a lack of women in the culinary field?

It’s almost ironic that there is a lack of women in a field that is sometimes expected as a profession or skill for women. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

Any words of advice for aspiring chefs?

Stay creative and new with whatever you do and don’t be afraid to take risks. Expressing your creativity and putting your own spin on things is what sets you apart!

Follow Shanai’s food page on Instagram! @theartoftaste

Eating Fabulously <3

Christopher Stewart 10405438_10155105945925321_7120286574400212755_n

Current City: New York City
Occupation: Social Media / Digital Community Manager for 2 restaurants in Harlem and owner of Eating Fabulously, a food and lifestyle blog. 

Tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in the Bronx with a very supportive family and large sets of friends. And yes my real name is actually Christopher and I love it. After watching cooking shows everyday on TV and having a grandfather as a chef, I told my parents that I was going to the Culinary Institute of America for college and no where else. And that’s what I did. After college at the Culinary Institute of America, I knew I didn’t like big restaurants so I worked in numerous small restaurants, even for some celebrity chefs. One day I landed at this small place and after a couple of months I became executive chef of the restaurant at 24 and the next week I IMG_0445turned 25. All of a sudden I had a staff and payroll was due on Monday and I had to make menu’s and cost out recipes and lead a team. Most exciting and also the scariest time in my life.
After many hours of sitting and reading a variety of different food blogs, I noticed there were little to zero food blogs written by young black women…who also have the upper hand of working in the restaurant industry. That’s where I decided to come in at. I created Eating Fabulously to give you a first hand look into my life revolving around food, but my way.
After achieving my dream of becoming executive chef, I decided to leave the kitchen, and go another route. I knew I wanted to stay in the restaurant industry but not in the kitchen. I started interning and food blogging and ended up writing on Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s website and I also ended up co-authoring a cookbook with a friend.
EF Logo
When and how did you learn to cook?
My grandfather was a chef and he always allowed me to join him in the kitchen when he was at home and even at work. He always included me and asked me questions about food, ingredients and  flavor. I cant even remember how young I was when he allowed me to put my hands in things. Like every little girl,  tea parties happened but at my tea parties I was serving imaginary food. As I got older, he would let me cook with him and then I started practicing how to plate my food. Then I progressed to cooking dinner. By the time i was 14, I knew I wanted to do this all the time, and that’s when I knew i would go to culinary school.

What inspires you about food? 

Is it bad to say that I really really really love to eat? I truly believe if you cant stop thinking about IMG_8773something everyday, that’s your true passion and honestly food and restaurants are always on my mind. Food brings people together, at the table each and every time. Food brings out the best in people and that’s what inspires me. Being able to sit at a table with people I enjoy over and over and over again.

What/where is your favorite place to eat?

Some of my favorite places are very low key and  have great food, but its the dynamics and the consistency of the restaurants that make them my favorite. Currently I’m in love with this small Peruvian place on 94th and Amsterdam Ave called Pio Pio. Its always packed to the brim and every time I go, my meal gets better and better. This maybe the only restaurant that I have NEVER had a issue in and the food is always amazing. Another one of my favorites is this seafood buffet called Ichi Umi here in NYC’s Korean town. I know IMG_5738“seafood buffet” sounds weird but this is a multi-level restaurant serving some of the freshest seafood and food Ive ever had. Sushi, sashimi, raw bar, kobe beef, pork belly etc. They open at 6p for dinner and I’m amazed at the level of ingredients, consistent and care this restaurant shows. Its packed by 7:30

How and why has food become such a large part of your life? 

I like to say that food runs through my veins like mascara and glitter. I think about food all day every day mostly because its been a true blessing to be able to enjoy food and restaurants in the magnitude that I have. I give all the credit o my late grandfather exposing me to everything.
What would your last meal be?
Because I love to eat everything, anything that is perfectly cooked to perfection makes the best meal for IMG_8145me. Cooking simply is actually very very hard. I love a perfectly cooked roast chicken; perfectly seared steak, perfectly cooked seasonal vegetables, perfectly boiled egg. So I guess my last meal would be anything that is perfectly cooked. (and seasonal!)

Where do you get your recipes?

Because I’m always thinking of food or dealing with food in some way, shape or form, I come up with all of my own recipes. If I’m not sure of a flavor or technique I will look it up. When dining out, if a meal really moves me, my mind will start racing as to how I can make it at home or add something to it.  Its funny because I very rarely cook at home and when I do cook at home I’m always shocked. Then I ask my mom is this blog worthy?!?!? LoL 

IMG_8470Why do you think there is such a lack of women in the culinary field? 

For one I don’t think we have a tangible visible female chef to look up to. Male chefs have visible, relatable chefs like  Chef Tyler Florence, Chef Michael Symon and Chef Marcus Samuelsson to aspire to grown into (all chefs that I personally like!) There are female chefs out here but we have to go searching for them, they are not in our faces everyday on books, TV shows, on Eater.com. I believe female chefs just don’t get as much exposure in the media. Maybe a Food & Wine cover here and there every couple of years but besides that, that’s it. And it sucks because there are some really talented female chefs in the world. When I was IMG_1116Executive chef no one knew I was running the place. Every time I stepped in the dining room, people thought I was a line cook. I didn’t have the backing from the restaurant owner or a PR company to put me out there.

Any words of advice for aspiring chefs? 
Ughhhh I have so many things to say to aspiring chefs! LoL  My first thing would be to find out if you love to cook or do you just like to eat. There is a major difference in that sentence. People get so caught up in loving to eat that they think that they love to cook. I say start off small, take some classes at your local specialty food store like at Whole Foods, Sur IMG_0868La Table, or Williams and Sonoma. If you love it, then comes culinary school and finally getting into the industry. Passion is a must. Learn what a Chef really is and does. I feel like people have glamorized being a chef so much that its has blinded people of the years of very hard work it takes to achieve such a name. Study the classical techniques of cooking, they always come back to you no matter what niche you get into. And finally, work hard and do it because you actually love it.

 
Want to get in touch with Christopher? Check her out on these other social media sites:
Instagram: chrissystew29  #EatingFab
Subscribe to my new monthly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bcobmr

February is for Food Lovers <3

February is considered the month of love. Everywhere you turn are commercials and articles giving relationship

advice, compatibility quizzes and coupons for edible arrangements. But I’ve decided to take at a look at a different type of passion for this month. FYM Project will showcase Food Lovers for February. Foodies, connoisseurs, chefs, etc. This month celebrates those who have an unwavering and unashamed love for food shows, recipes, restaurants, snacks and everything else in between. For those who get more excited about ordering dinner than who they’re eating with. Who plan their day around their meals. Who wake up in the morning visualizing what they’re going to make for dinner instead of what you’re wearing for work. This month is for you 🙂 I’m excited to showcase two women in the next week who have made food a lifestyle in the most creative ways, stay tuned!

Far More Precious: Passion, Purpose and Perseverance

MARLINE IMG_4184

Occupation/Title: Licensed Social Worker; Founder of Far More Precious
Age: 29
Hometown: South Orange, NJ

Personal Background, please introduce yourself. Of course your job title, education etc, but also your hobbies, your passions, the things that make you YOU.

I am Haitian-American who was born and raised in New Jersey. Most of my schooling was private school until I moved to the Poconos, PA to attend public school. Shortly after, I knew I was going to attend the #1 school ever PENN STATE UNIVERSITY (biased, I know). I received my Bachelors Degree in Psychology and soon after received my Masters Degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. I am currently working in a psychiatric unit as a Social Worker doing discharge planning, individual and group counseling with the mentally ill.

Aside from my job, my passion is to cultivate an atmosphere of sisterhood and empowering women from many different walks of life. I truly enjoy connecting women with women.

When I am not working on my passion, you will find me traveling, cooking, reading, outdoor activities, rooftop eatings, Sunday brunches and hosting women’s events.

State the name and mission of your organization.

My organization is called Far More Precious organization. It is a non-profit organization based in Northern New Jersey. Our mission is to help adolescents and young adult women to overcome barriers in their past while thriving towards their purpose. We host quarterly workshops and enrichment programs for women.

FMP  updated logo

How did you get to where you are today?

Growing up, I have always had a passion for counseling and working with women with a broken past. Part of me entered into this field because of my broken past of child sexual abuse. I realized that my past pain propelled me towards my passion and my God-given purpose. Most of my educational and work experience has been in non-profit sectors and also working with high risked children, youths and adults. I am thankful for the opportunities I was granted to work with survivors of trauma in various settings.

Do you feel you’ve made a difference? What changes have you seen/made and what do you hope to see in the future?

Yes, I truly believe that God has used me as a vessel to make a difference. It is always encouraging to hear women tell me how I have helped to empower them. In the near future, I would hope to open my own private practice that is a safe place for women to be vulnerable with their hurts, pain, passion and successes.

board membersHow have you changed since starting your work?

I have changed tremendously over the years. With my faith in God, I realize that my passion to continue my work as a non-profit leader and Psychiatric Social Worker comes from Him alone. I have also learned to have balance. Every opportunity presented my way does not need a yes from me. I am learning to say no and enjoy periods of rest.

You’ve told us the mission for your organization, but what does your work do for you personally?

When I see a young girl receiving an academic scholarship from our organization it makes me realize that it is worth it all. There are days where I am just crying tears of joy to know that we are making an impact. My passion keeps me fulfilled daily. It’s a burning passion in my heart to serve other women, especially young adults.

What advice do you have for women wanting to start their own organization or non-profit?

If you are looking to start a non-profit organization or business, I would suggest you start with RESEARCH!. Every state has different guidelines. It is also important to ask yourself “are there any other organizations doing the same thing I am looking to achieve?” This question is beneficial when you are looking into receiving funding and grants for your organization. Also, have a team to hold you accountable. Running a non-profit looks pretty on the outside, but there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into it, such as maintaining your tax-exempt status. Make sure you keep record of everything and have your organization documents in a safe place.

What is a message that you believe every woman should hear?

One day you will be thankful for the thing that once brought you pain, for it will bring forth your passion. Someone out here needs to hear your story to empower them. Your voice is needed.

 

Ways to connect with Marline!IMG_4273

Website: www.farmoreprecious.org

Facebook: FarMorePreciousOrg & Marline Francois

Instagram: FarMorePreciousOrg & MarlineFrancois

Twitter: FarMorePreci0us & MarlineFrancois

: info@farmoreprecious.org

The BE! Life: The Key to Loving Life is Self Love

Tiffany Wright, MSWTiffany2

Occupation/Title: Owner of BE!
Age: 27
Hometown: Inglewood,  CA

1. Personal Background, please introduce yourself. Of course your job title, education etc, but also your hobbies, your passions, the things that make you YOU.

I have a passion for change and positive experiences that elicit change. Life is an adventure and an opportunity for all of us to learn and teach. Thus I live my life accordingly and follow my mantra, Live a Life Worth Living! I’m all about outdoor adventures and motorized sports. Skydiving,  Atv’ing, zip lining, jet skiing, race car driving, hiking, water rafting, etc. I feel that adventure awakens the spirit and elevates you to another level, which is what my company is about.

All things Disney, Romantic, and Colorful are all of me. On the flip side I love watching History, Discover and the Food Channel haha. I love being with genuine people that make me laugh, think, and grow and that sentiment overflows into my work.I am the founder of the empowerment brand and movement, BE! In which I promote self love to millennial women.

2. State the name and mission of your organization.

BE! is an empowerment lifestyle brand that promotes self love to millennial women.Through special events and media, BE promotes its ideals, BE Inspired, BE Empowered, BE Well and BE YOU to audiences. BE! illuminates and affirms the self-inspired passions and goals envisioned by women on a spiritual journey to find their place in this world.

Tiffany9

3. How did you get to where you are today?

Put simply, BE! is a life calling because my message, in its purity, is a reflection of my own truth. It’s been a journey. At 7 I decided I wanted to be a child psychologist because I wanted to help and empower children coming from dysfunctional families. By the time I got to college I was set on my majors, Sociology and Psychology. I also minored in African American studies and it got me really interested in learning about the depths of identity development.  Upon graduation I was not confident enough to apply to PH.D programs but I knew I wanted to have my own organization and help people, so I applied to MSW and went to Columbia in New York. NYC was the birthing place of BE!  From 2009 up until 2013 I progressively got interested in yoga, nutrition, personal development and mindfulness books, and finally launched The BE Life, my blog, in November 2013.

Tiffany7It took a string of unhealthy relationships, a layoff, and a physical transformation for me to open my eyes and think, what the heck has been going on? Look how much healing I need to do. I want everything to change but I need to work on me.

Because of my own realization, I became more and more aware of how much power women give up. How much low esteem they have. How much value they put in their bodies and labels as opposed to their visions, desires and purpose. Most importantly, I wanted to impact the nature of how we go into relationships. This right here was the kicker for me because why is ” a good woman like me” attracting the men I’m attracting? It wasn’t the goodness in me that was an issue, it was the brokenness and wounds. That was my aha moment. So much of who we are and what we do and become are affected by our relationships, romantic, familial and platonic. These relationships are often unhealthy spirals leading to further unhealthy spirals. I realized that first exploring the relationship with self, would affect absolutely everything else.

4. Do you feel you’ve made a difference? What changes have you seen/made and what do you hope to see in the future?

The most immediate changes that are evident are amongst my close family and friends.  They use terms like “self love” now haha. They pay attention to what I do, and we fall into a lot of conversations about BEing present, focusing on gratitude, walking through fear, and self serving behaviors and thoughts.  My little sister is the most impact because I don’t have children, she is my legacy. When I teach her about anything, and on her own she responds and reflects it, that it fulfillment.  Breaking cycles of self defeat, self hate, and self sacrificing.

Also I see post of people I know incorporating BE actions in their posts. For example #belove #befree etc. Whereas they Tiffany4may have not done that as much previously.

5. How have you changed since starting your work?

The nature of my personal relationships have dramatically changed. Because I learn to honor myself and my spirit, I’m more adamant and vocal to people about what I will and will not entertain,  likewise in honoring others i am no where near as judgmental as I used to be. I have been able to forgive and let go of a lot of expectations and take people for who they are.

6. You’ve told us the mission for your organization, but what does your work do for you personally?

Accountability.  To know people might be looking for the inspiration or insight of a blog or social media post means I must be selfless and do whats necessary to honor others and myself. Also, one of my aunts says I’m the first student of BE which is true because most content is reflective of personal epiphanies, experiences and conversations. I often am transparent that journeys never end, including my own, So I get to teach and learn cyclically.

7. What advice do you have for women wanting to start their own organization or non-profit?

Do the research,  make a plan, and just go. You don’t always have to “wait for the perfect time,” do what you can with what you have, and whatever is meant to be will unfold.  You will evolve as well as your organization, and sometimes that evolution is appealing to even your first followers. FAITH is the most important,  passion comes next, vision and effort go hand in hand.

Tiffany88. What is a message that you believe every woman should hear?

That self love is the key to loving a life worth living. When you connect to yourself and the idea of self love you will live more fearlessly,  attract healthy platonic and romantic relationships, will be able to give more to the world,  and will fall in love with yourself in and out.

Want to reach out to Tiffany?

youtube: Live the BE Life

Ig: the_be_life

Fb: whatsyourbe

Twitter-@bebebelife

Beyou@livethebelife.com

December: Women Who Give Back

Hi readers!

I know its been a moment since I’ve posted but a lot has been going on! I’m working full time now as a preschool teacher and I’m back in school to get my teaching certifications. So, needless to say I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle everything, bear with me!

I just wanted to take a quick moment and introduce this month’s theme: Women Who Give Back. One of my favorite things about the holiday season is that family and community are brought to the forefront of our conscious. Whether you get it from exchanging gifts, driving past decorated houses, doing community service, or your mom’s mac and cheese: everyone is enveloped in a warm fuzzy feeling. It is a time where you embrace love and inspiration and I just wanted to continue the trend by sharing the stories of some women who inspired me in how they have created non profits in service to their communities. I definitely hope to follow in their foot steps.

Stay tuned and I hope you enjoy!


Happy Holidays 🙂

There is Beauty in Simplicity

HANEEFAH  haneefah3

Age: 23
Occupation: Currently a Student of Pharmacology and Drug Discovery
Hometown: Ilorin, Nigeria

 

How long have you been designing?

I’ve been designing since I was really little. I loved to draw and doodle so I drew designs, but I started it as a small business about a little over two years ago.

 

What kind of women do you design for? How do you want women to feel in your clothes?

I design for the average modest woman. I have had to incorporate my faith into my designs and interpretation of those designs. I want women to feel covered, comfortable and be able to further express themselves with my clothes on them.

haneefah8

Who are some of your favorite designers?

I do not have a particular designer in mind, but I do admire a few design houses, like aab and iamISIGO.

 

How would you describe your style?

I usually have difficulty describing my style really. It projects who I am, it is comfortable, it is versatile and most importantly, simple, because I believe there is beauty in simplicity.

 

What motivated you to pursue this passion?

When I was wrapping up my BSc, I had to spend an extra semester in school, so I had lots of time on my hands. I decided to open a blog and open a portal for discussion for women all over the world; somehow, it evolved into me sharing my work which included the arts and crafts I dabble into all the time. So, with most of the nice comments I got and encouragement, I continued updating the blog at least once a week. Then my mum got me a sewing machine around that time for my birthday, hence started my sewing journey. As I am self-taught, I had to check, learn and re-learn a lot of things online because prior to when I got a sewing machine, I was always looking for no-sew projects I could easily do. I started sewing for myself at first, then friends and family asked for details and wanted to wear my cloths too! I provided the designs people saw on me on request and then went ahead to launch a collection later on. Production is currently on break now because of school. haneefah7

 

What is it like being a brown girl in the fashion industry? 

haneefah6I have not fully incorporated myself into the fashion industry yet but I already know the intense competition out there. Networking is not hard if you have a well-developed and unique brand.

 

Where do you get your ideas on what styles to make? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Mostly online. I love watching E! a lot so I get some ideas there, I love to draw inspiration from nature especially when it is pertaining to colors.

 

haneefah4What advice do you have for other girls who want to pursue designing as a career?

To never give up. Lots of time, I’ve almost quit, but I didn’t, it could get frustrating at times, but the beauty of that is you get to enjoy the good times due to perseverance and hard work.

 

Want to get in touch with Haneefah and see her designs? Check out her blog  www.muslimahanie.comher clothing website http://www.haniecollection. com (not up to date),  follow her on twitter @ms_hanie and instagram @muslimahanie

Additional info: I’m currently in the UK now, for my haneefah1masters degree programme therefore I had to take a break for about a year so that I can focus on my education because I think that is important too. During that period, I would plan better ahead for the future. haneefah2

 

 

Making A Statement Using Fabric

ANGEL Angel1

Age: 29
Occupation: Self Employed/Full Time Medical Student/Mentor
Hometown: Baltimore

 

How long have you been designing?
4 years

What kind of women do you design for? How do you want women to feel in your clothes?

I design clothing for men and women. I design clothing based off the needs of my clients, if they are looking for trendy, traditional,high fashion, I pride myself on listening to my customers needs. I want my clients to feel like they are expressing themselves and feel confident in my items.

Angel4Who are some of your favorite designers?

Yves Saint Laurent, Roberto Cavalli

How would you describe your style? Angel3

I describe my personal style as artistic and without boundaries.

What motivated you to pursue this passion?

I have always loved fashion even as a child, I think that Tyra Banks motivated me to want to be the person who could allow the model to make a statement using fabric.

What is it like being a brown girl in the fashion industry?

Being a brown girl of different ethnic backgrounds and moral backgrounds has made it difficult. Being any kind of true artist you are never really understood for the craft that you love dearly. The journey has been difficult because of me majoring in the medical field. I have two skills that require a lot of my attention, which makes it hard on my social awareness scene. Thus its hard to attend events that could give me exposure so my marketing methods have to be a little more traditional then others. I think the most difficult part about finding support is finding genuine support. A lot of people in our era do not value the concept of continuous hard work so its difficult to find people with the same work ethics as you.

Where do you get your ideas on what styles to make? Where do you draw inspiration from?

I get my ideas from artists. I go to art galleries and sit with art students from across the United States and get a feel of what art is eye indulging. I am also a great fan of DIY projects.

Angel2What advice do you have for other girls who want to pursue designing as a career?

My advice is to learn about fashion, study your target, learn about being in business and always conduct yourself as a professional woman at all times. Integrity, consistency, and hard work is the key to success always.

Want to get in touch with Angel? Check out her Instagram @Aye_itsangel_, her LinkedIn: Angel King or her meet up page: Angel King!

 

As always, if you want to suggest a topic, wish to be featured or have any other feedback, feel free to contact me at raven.best5@gmail.com

 

Our Style, But Where Are We??

So a little while ago, I got a DM on instagram from a lovely lady named Angel King who was inquiring about how to be featured on the blog. She is an upcoming designer in the DMV and is looking to get her name and brand out. Now I jumped at the request because she is the FIRST person to reach out to me and suggest a topic, therefore October on the blog will be showcasing and celebrating brown Female Designers!

While thinking about the types of questions for this set of features, I realized how necessary this theme was, especially considering the numerous fashion weeks taking place across the globe during this time of year. I’ve been noticing a lot of people commenting on how (once again) many components of black culture are being adopted into the fashion industry. For example, all of sudden baby hair, durags and head wraps are in style on the runway. What may seem to be “new” accessories or hair styles to some, these trends have been a part of black hair culture for decades. But all of a sudden they are now high fashion and deemed “urban fabulous” because they’ve been attached to white bodies.

It never ceases to amaze me how much of our culture is appropriated without due credit, representation or respect. How many black fashion designers do we see during the fashion weeks in New York and Paris? How many black contestants are included on tv shows like Project Runway? But our styles and concepts are quick to be copied, rebranded and resold while we are excluded. So in an attempt to increase visibility and appreciated for black female designers, the features for this month are of women trying to make a name for themselves in fashion; to share their stories, designs and passion.

 

As always, to be featured or to suggest a topic, feel free to email me at raven.best5@gmail.com!

 

Remember to follow The Free Your Mind Project on Instagram @fymproject and like The Free Your Mind Project on Facebook.


Thanks for reading!