Chef Crystal Blanchette: “It’s amazing what we can manifest or bring to life when we set the right intentions; Setting an intention is prayer for me”

Intention: It’s amazing what we can manifest or bring to life when we set the right intentions. Setting an intention is prayer for me. I get up in the mornings and speak to God out loud sharing who I get to be for the day and what I get to achieve. I create my day […]

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Intention: It’s amazing what we can manifest or bring to life when we set the right intentions. Setting an intention is prayer for me. I get up in the mornings and speak to God out loud sharing who I get to be for the day and what I get to achieve. I create my day in my head and trust that what is to be is up to me.

In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases, it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Crystal Blanchette. Chef Crystal is a Private Chef to some of Los Angeles’ most talented entertainers and health enthusiasts. With over 10 years of experience working for several high-profile clients such as her current client, and previous clients ranging from The Artist Prince, George Lucas(Lucas Films), Mike Tyson, and Jessica Simpson to name a few.

A graduate of the California Culinary Academy and an alumnus of San Diego State University where she studied Nutritional Science, Chef Crystal has combined her education and professional training to formulate a healthy cuisine ideology. She has been able to create a name for herself by sharing her passion with an emphasis on organic produce, grass fed meats, and even provides the necessary tools to go vegan. Chef Crystal has worked in various environments that has given her space to perfect vegan cuisine in a way that enhances the benefits of this lifestyle; which positively affects her clients personally as well as the global environment. Chef Crystals wears many hats. A co-parenting Mother of two, owner of Chef Crystalz World (lifestyle Chef brand), Chefs Guide to Divorce (divorcee dinner events and recipe blog), #CineSoulDine (community film, music, and dinner series in partnership with Airbnb) and lastly her partnership in a culinary urban development project called Inner City Kitchen set to open in the city of South Los Angeles where they will cater to the community by providing healthy food options but also bring in health experts to share their knowledge on a healthier way of life. Chef Crystal has proven that healthy eating can be achieved by demonstrating to others through her personal experience as a single working mother of two. Chef Crystal believes we have lost touch with our communities and families by making eating a part of our daily checklist as opposed to a priority. It has become her mission to lead others in her philosophy that “Food is not only a necessity for survival but also a way to connect with one’s body. Allow food to nurture your body by making it a priority and not a chore”

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Ihave known all my life I have wanted to be a chef. I remember the first cookbook my Mother got me “the stories Julian tells” and in it there was one story about how to make lemon pudding. I must have been about seven years old when I went to the kitchen at home, followed the recipe by myself, and served it to my family. It was after that I couldn’t stop cooking. I was in every community cooking classes, cooking for the kids on my block, and even begging my mother for a kitchen aid mixer at the age of ten so that I could replicate Emeril Lagasse’s homemade sausage recipe in my very own kitchen. However, the love for cooking runs in my blood. As we weren’t your traditional “black American family” because instead of a “Big Mama’’ we had my grandfather “Wes”short for Westbrook, (that was the name everyone called him, including all of his grandkids) is the Culinary Patriarch of my family. My grandfather cooked every Thanksgiving, family reunions, birthdays, and picnics. I will say most of my memories with my family were based around laughter, love, and my grandfather’s food. I watched him from a distance continue on the traditions of fried catfish, potato salad, collard greens, beans, roasted corn, peach cobbler, and all the yummies you could imagine. It was in those moments as a child, surrounded by my grandfather’s culinary masterpieces where I began to understand what it meant for my family to sit around and enjoy a meal. Today I am proud to say my grandfather has passed the culinary torch down to the younger generation with me at his torchbearer. It has been an honor to step into this position where I get to make him proud.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

The most interesting story of my career was first restaurant experience. I had moved back to Los Angeles from San Francisco and introduced to a wonderful chef by the name of Christopher Tunnell. Chef Chris was the executive chef for a company called the Dolce Group, one of Los Angeles’ hottest restaurant groups at the time. Chef Chris was my introduction into not only the restaurant world, but he was the first chef to believe in me. He was hard, he yelled a lot, and he wanted perfection in his kitchen. Chef Chris had me learn every station from dishwashing to ordering products. He didn’t care that I was a woman or that I was young. I remember getting a call from Chef Chris after working in the restaurant for over a year saying “today we’re going to work for a private client” I had no idea what that meant but I went anyway. That client turned out to be Mike Tyson. I remember walking into the house completely star struck when Chef Chris said “you got this” in that moment I felt a deep connection to myself and my inner calling. At the end of the first day I knew within my bones that I wanted to be a private chef. I wanted to serve clients in their homes, and I would be great at it. Chef Chris instilled the belief that I was a champion because my first private chef experience was with one of the greatest champions on the planet.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? What makes my company stand out?

Good question. My company has been built on word of mouth. My career journey leads toward providing access to healthy food and water to everyone in the world. It’s not about standing out but calling myself and others forward. I am passionate about helping people cultivate a desire to eat healthy from within, and then I help with servicing them.

I also provide my community with access to recipes, resources, education and support in the culinary space. What stands out is that our mission is to provide the entire world with access to healthy food and water by partnering with the leaders of today to make that happen, starting here in the United States. Flint Michigan, many parts of New Mexico, and all throughout the Midwest Indian reservations are without water. It’s a basic necessity with no true solution in sight. My company is a stand for those whose voices have not been heard and we get to create a better world by being better in it. When my partners and I got together to form Inner City Kitchen (local food stalls within underserved communities) we were told that people in these communities didn’t want healthy food and we couldn’t believe our ears. However, this was exactly what we needed to hear to keep pushing forward. People deserve it and get to have it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have several people who supported me along the way. My mother has been my biggest fan all of my life. However, when I look back on my career and the people who always held me down when it got “hot in the kitchen” it would have to be my two cousins Jennifer and Lauren. They have suffered as servers, dishwashers, assistance, hostesses, sous chefs, whatever I needed throughout my entire career and not to mention gotten on airplanes to meet me in foreign countries to support my ambitions. I will never forget the time I was catering a party and Lauren came to cook with me. It was the first time she had been in the kitchen with me and she got a kick out of everyone saying, “yes Chef” It was a term of endearment in her eyes and she has continued to call me that to this day. Lauren and Jennifer have been consistent, loving, thoughtful, and never once let me fall. I owe so much to them and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

I don’t look at my day and say I am 100% perfect 100% of the time because my 100% looks different every day. As a mother I am not always on my game and I fail often but with failure comes success. There are days I give it all I have and that could mean a breakfast bar and a smoothie for breakfast but every Friday at my house I make my children whatever breakfasty foods they want. There isn’t a fire big enough at work or with a client that would take me away from that moment with them, but I also know that life shifts and what resilience has taught me is that I can always create a space for what is important. A few of the traits I believe exist in those who are resilient are confident, driven and being adaptable to any situation towards achieving one’s goals. However, in my experience the key to resilience for me has been about intention. When my intentions are pure and set on achieving a goal, I never go wrong. It doesn’t mean the journey is easy, it just means I get to create endless possibilities with a pure heart and wake up every day knowing I set an intention to “Be Better and Always Move Forward”.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

The person that comes to mind when I think of resilience is my three-year-old. I have learned so much from my children but what I have learned from Mia is that when you fall you cry it out and get back up again. Mia is independent, loving, stubborn, and lives in the moment. I honor, cherish, and strive to live like that.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

I once had an old boss tell me it was impossible for people to change who they are. Sadly, this advice was given to me when my world had been turned upside down, I was jumping into single parenting by choice, and my career had gone down in what felt like eternal flames. I had my back up against what felt like the Great Wall of China and I was in a very victim mentality believing it was everyone else’s fault but my own. It was that conversation with her that sparked a question in my head “if it’s impossible for people to change I will never get out of this funk” I told her that I appreciated her experience of people, but it wasn’t mine. I had faith in God, my kids, a handful of friends, my family, and an intention to show myself that impossible doesn’t exist in my orbit. People get to be better and can be better, but you have to strive for it. I have never forgotten that conversation and when I think back on who I was and where I was in that moment it’s humbling to know that when the odds were against me I felt the best option was to double down and believe in myself and trust that great things were going to happen.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

My divorce has been my greatest setback. When you have children in a marriage it feels gut wrenching to walk away from what feels like their lifeline. I believed that their happiness was based on the security of my marriage instead of seeing that my marriage wasn’t secure at all. I would spend many nights feeling inadequate, guilty for wanting to leave, and selfish for believing I deserved more. I knew that marriage took work and no matter how hard I worked at it I never seemed to see the finish line. The end of my marriage brought on a string of bad and good decisions but what I was thankful for in that time was actually making a decision. You see I never understood that saying “no decision is a decision” until I was coming out of my marriage. The constant need for more on my end created friction at home between us because our entire world was in limbo based on my decision to leave or not. When I finally decided to walk away, I held so much animosity towards my ex because it was easier to blame him daily for his faults than to acknowledge mine. It was soon after that I launched Chefs Guide To Divorce based on my love of the show Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce. The launch of Chefs Guide to Divorce was the outlet I needed to love food in a way that was healthy and also get divorced in a way that was healthy. However, what I have come to learn is that divorce is painful and in order for me to move forward I had to separate myself from the negative aspect of divorce and find joy in what was next for me. I relaunched chefs guide to divorce and turned it into chef Crystalz guide a positive way of guiding your culinary experience in a fun way.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

Disneyland has always been my happy place! When I was a kid my mother would take us outings she called “ditch day” where we would wake up and go on an adventure instead of to school and Disneyland was hands down our first choice every time. It wasn’t until I became a teenager looking for a quote for my letterman’s jacket when I came across a quote from Walt Disney that read “All your dreams will come true if you have the courage to pursue them” Those were words to live by from a girl with big dreams and a vision to save the world. I would use this quote daily as my momtra for the rest of my life. I knew the stories of failures about Walt Disney and Disneyland, but it was the journey between that that fascinated me. I lived in a fantasy land most of my life and it took me many years to be proud of that. I see the vision of Walt Disney as bigger than him because he set out to show that magic does exist and that dreaming big isn’t a curse but yet a blessing when you set the right intentions around it.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are the 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

Intention: It’s amazing what we can manifest or bring to life when we set the right intentions. Setting an intention is prayer for me. I get up in the mornings and speak to God out loud sharing who I get to be for the day and what I get to achieve. I create my day in my head and trust that what is to be is up to me.

Trust: I believe that practicing trust is key to my resilience. I have spent most of my life believing but to an extent. If it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to or if things went sideways perhaps it wasn’t right for me. What I have learned over the last few years is that you can’t set an intention without trust and if you cannot trust you’re not aligned with your vision.

Vision: I see who I am and where I’m going. If it isn’t in alignment with my vision it isn’t my vision. I get to be a support to others, but I do not steer away from what my ultimate goal is.

Purpose: I am no longer driven by success or money but instead a purpose. That purpose is a reminder that everyone deserves access to food and water regardless of class, gender, sexual preference, race, or age. With this purpose I stay resilient because it has yet to happen for everyone and I get to partner with those leading the charge to make it happen.

Gratitude: I look back on the many challenges I have faced in my life and am so grateful to have had a breakthrough in my life from these experiences. I spent many years blaming others for what has happened in my life. I now spend each day in gratitude for every experience and see that I get to be responsible each day for my life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 I would say we all have an obligation to be selfless when it comes to access to food and water. So, I will use whatever influence I have to keep that movement going beyond me. I will never forget having the opportunity to go to Malawi and seeing first-hand what it means to a village when you support them with getting water pumps in their village. I will also never forget the power of paying it forward because there was a time, I sent pallets of water to Flint Michigan with the blessing of my boss at the time. I know from experiences such as these that people have the power to shift the world. If we teach our children the basic fundamentals of human kindness such as “just be kind” and “you’re worthy of love” the idea that we need to form a solution to provide food and water to people would be nonexistent because we would always be looking out for each other.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Jennifer Lopez has always been my #1 The beauty on the outside matches her beauty on the inside. Jennifer Lopez is my superhero. As a mother, I want nothing more than to be present, an example of a leader, while bringing value and unconditional love to my children. Jennifer Lopez shows that you can have it all even when you feel like the odds are against you. The woman keeps going with grace and style. I know that one day we will work together for all humanity bringing basic necessities to those in need.

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