…during this time I have been very blessed to maintain clientele and gain more clients. I put my marketing degree to use and I started advertising on my IG more. I offered customers something that they could not get during quarantine, which was a fine dining experience right in your home. There is no wait, the food is hot and fresh and you do not have to worry about exposure. I wear my mask upon entering each client home I have my PPE, and I sanitize everything. My business picked up a lot more during quarantine. My advice would be to put your business out there customers are looking for good quality food and you can offer that to them. I was even selling lunches that people could pick up.
As part of our series about the lessons from Inspirational BIPOC Chefs & Restaurateurs, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Chef Tyyesha Hill, owner of Gourmet Galore which is an upscale catering and personal chef service that provides exquisite gourmet meals with a southern twist.
Chef Ty is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, Georgia where she studied classical French cuisine. After graduation, Chef Ty completed a coveted internship at Pricci, a high end italian scratch kitchen in Atlanta.
Tyyesha has had the pleasure of creating menus and cooking for top brands such as Topgolf, BMI, A3C Festival, and the BET hip hop awards. As a private chef, Chef Ty has cooked for NFL cornerback Jalen Ramsey, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Chico Bean of the 85 South Show and more.
Tyyesha infuses her classical training and adds a southern twist, with dishes such as Cajun shrimp and grits or southern salmon benedict. Chef Ty has always had a passion for cooking since she was a child and is honored to now share all the great recipes and southern hospitality with the world.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know’ you a bit. Can you share with our readers a story about what inspired you to become a restauranteur or chef?
My love for cooking started out as a child. I was a fat kid at heart. I loved to eat. It was not until I became a teenager that I started seeing the artistry in food. I knew that I wanted to become a chef while I was in high school. I knew that I wanted to have my own business to accompany being a chef. After I graduated from FAMU with my B.S in business marketing, I attended Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta. My love and appreciation grew fonder for the love of cooking and being a chef. It’s not only my passion but it fuels my purpose. I’m so blessed to have those memories of cooking with my mom, because that’s the reason I became a chef. Every time I step in a kitchen, I get that same feeling I did when I was a kid.
Do you have a specific type of food that you focus on? What was it that first drew you to cooking that type of food? Can you share a story about that with us?
To be completely honest, I used to try to cook the way I saw other chefs cook. My food did not have any character, it was very bland and plain. I had to learn to stay true to myself and my roots. I am a southern girl; soul food is a cuisine that comes natural to my spirit. I love to focus on southern comfort food. What I love about being a chef is that you can make a dish unique to you. Growing up my mother always made Sunday dinner. The table would be lined with oxtails, collard greens, mac and cheese, and yams. As I matriculated in the industry, I realized the importance of Southern cuisine. The more you learn about yourself the more you accept who you are and love every bit of it. I may add a classical touch to a dish but the basis of it will always be southern.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Be still and let God be God”. I heard this from my pastor one day during a sermon. It really spoke to me because I was trying so hard to be this “celebrity chef”. I wanted the world to know who I was. I was not letting God make a way for me. Sometimes in life we get off course trying to take our destiny into our own hands. We must trust the process and know that in due time it will all come together. If I would have received these same opportunities 4 years ago I would’ve “fumbled the bag”. I believe in divine order and when it’s your time your flower will blossom. Until then keep watering and nourishing it.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you became a chef or restauranteur? What was the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Looking back, it was funny how I jumped the gun. There was a client looking for a private chef. I sent my portfolio over and I had been waiting months to hear back from this client. It was off season, so they were out the country. While I was surfing social media, I came across another chef’s profile and they had stated they got the job with this client that I had been waiting on for months. I was distraught [laughs]. I called my best friend so hysterical and she kept saying “calm down”. I was a mess. So finally, I pulled myself together. The next day I get a call from the client’s nutritionist saying they are sending me the micros for this client. I was so surprised I had gotten the job. I laugh about it because we let social media have so much control. Here I was losing my mind and did not even know I had the job. That year I gained another client from that team. Moral of the story stay of social media [ laughs].
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? How did you overcome this obstacle?
In my opinion, I would say knowing my worth. I was so eager to get clients and build a business that I completely let that business degree I had go out the window. People do not realize the time and effort that chefs put into their work. Literally we are working around the clock. Buying groceries, prepping the food, cooking the food, plating it. All that takes time, skill and effort. The hardest thing for me was learning who my audience was. It’s simple; you have those that will pay for value , then you have those that won’t. I did not want to turn a client down, but then I started getting the same type of clients. Expensive taste buds but do not really understand the value of a fine dining experience. Knowing your worth comes with confidence. I was not a confident chef when I started out and it showed. Fast forward 6 years, I not only know my self-worth, but I stay in my lane. I cook from the heart. My price is my price, if they don’t like it, they weren’t the client for me anyway.
In your experience, what is the key to creating a dish that customers are crazy about?
Give them something creative, use your travel experiences to help influence your dish. It is the technique for me. My clients love my food because it is me on the plate. I take what I learned in school, add my southern twist to it and give my clients something they would have never imagined.
Personally, what is the ‘perfect meal for you’?
The perfect meal for me is simple, Fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. I have always loved that combination. In college we had fried chicken Wednesday and let me tell you, I gained my freshman 15 fast. You can never go wrong with some good fried chicken. Especially when it’s made the old fashioned way; that cast iron skillet is next level.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? What impact do you think this will have?
Yes, I have a few projects, one being a liquor brand. It’s to honor my grandmother. I want to give her flowers while she is still here. I won’t disclose the name of it but it’s coming. I’m working on an all-purpose seasoning and knife line, so I have a lot that I’m doing but to whom much is given much is required.
What advice would you give to other chefs or restaurateurs to thrive and avoid burnout? Do you have any advice for “up and coming” young chefs who are in need of guidance to become successful in the culinary world?
Learn to say NO”. It’s ok to not take every job. Like I said before every customer is not YOUR customer. Self-care is a must, take time for yourself and family. I love my career don’t get me wrong, however, I can’t let that come before myself or family. Those clients and opportunities will be there. Allow yourself to live in the moment. The present is truly a gift.
Find a mentor who his solid, someone who will take you under their wing and really give you the knowledge and insight that you need. I hate when chefs tell upcoming culinarians “ you don’t need school to learn how to cook” that grinds my gears. First and foremost, no one should ever deter you from getting an education, that’s a red flag there. Yes, you can learn in a kitchen, but school will add another level of value to you. Do not let anyone tell you going to culinary school is a waste because it’s not. Be true to yourself. When you are authentic with your craft it shows in your food. Never try to be like anyone else. Lastly cook with confidence not an ego. The worst chefs have the biggest egos. Its ok to be confident but do not be arrogant. Your artistry will speak for itself. Trust the process and never stop learning.
COVID-19 has been a trying time for all of us. How are you growing your business during COVID-19? What advice do you have for any chefs who are trying to stay relevant during this time?
I will say during this time I have been very blessed to maintain clientele and gain more clients. I put my marketing degree to use and I started advertising on my IG more. I offered customers something that they could not get during quarantine, which was a fine dining experience right in your home. There is no wait, the food is hot and fresh and you do not have to worry about exposure. I wear my mask upon entering each client home I have my PPE, and I sanitize everything. My business picked up a lot more during quarantine. My advice would be to put your business out there customers are looking for good quality food and you can offer that to them. I was even selling lunches that people could pick up.
Thank you for all that. Now we are ready for the main question of the interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started as a Restauranteur or Chef” and why? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. In the culinary world we say “stage’” it translates to shadowing. This is a good opportunity to learn but be careful because you have some imposters out there. I was so eager to work and learn that I was shadowing this chef and he was horrible. Moral of the story do your research. Even one is not a qualified chef. 2. Learn the kitchen and each station first, do not rush the process. Don’t rush take your time to learn everything.
3. Someone is always watching. I went to a holiday party that BMI was hosting, and I was too excited I was in a room full of celebrities. I was happy but nervous. Lucky for me I was on my best behavior. A few weeks pass by and I ended up doing a brunch for them. They told me how surprised they were that I was so calm and professional. You never know who is watching and your character is always being watched
4. Take direction. Always be open to learning. Never feel like you are better than anyone else. You can learn from anyone no matter what it is.
5. Stay focused. I had a time when I let the wrong company in my space and trust me, I paid for it. It almost cost me everything. I am so thankful for my family and their support. The red flags are there, don’t ignore them. Stay focused. Keep God first don’t let anything or anyone distract you. That is why having a strong support system is important. We need that.
What’s the one dish people have to try if they visit your establishment?
I would say the Southern salmon benedict. It is a dish that has the classical French technique, but I added my southern flare to it. The crispy onions are what sets it off. I make a lemon dill spread to go on the english muffin then place the seared cajun salmon on the muffin. We fry an egg ( its fried soft so the yolk is still runny, place that on top of the salmon, topped it off with a lemon cajun hollandaise and crispy onions. It’s so good and savory. It’s one of my favorites.
You are a person of enormous 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.
How can our readers further follow you online?
They can go to my website : www.gourmetgalorepc.com
My IG @cheftyhill
Facbook ; Gourmet Galorepc
Thank you so much for these insights. This was very inspirational!