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Natasha Ford: “The race is not for the swift or the strong but for those who persevere”

When I began seeing and hearing the fears, stress, and anxiety being expressed by love ones, students and parents, business professionals who felt at a loss, and so many others in the community, it was impossible to sit by and just watch. I knew it was important to form this team and share the knowledge […]


When I began seeing and hearing the fears, stress, and anxiety being expressed by love ones, students and parents, business professionals who felt at a loss, and so many others in the community, it was impossible to sit by and just watch. I knew it was important to form this team and share the knowledge I acquired over the years. I know I needed to help even if it was a simple meal being prepared for friends or neighbors to help give some comfort in all the uncertainty. This is when I decided using social media, zoom meetings, and other platforms to teach classes, give demonstrations and give guidance to others would be my greatest ability to help those who needed it most. Now more than ever we must support each other as Small Businesses and Women Entrepreneurs. It is important that we structure and do things correctly so we can grow and succeed together.


As part of my series about people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID19 Pandemic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Natasha Ford. Celebrity Chef Natasha is passionate about Caribbeanizing™ meals by incorporating an Island aspect to create truly flavorful and interesting dishes. In addition, she is an expert in areas like Food Therapy (Holistic Culinary Nutrition), teaching and working with adults with disabilities and entrepreneurship-focused in the food industry. Natasha’s first encounter with her passion came about growing up as a child in the beautiful tropics of Barbados. She remembered playing with her toys in the kitchen while watching her granny prepare delicious meals for the family. Sometimes to her delight granny would allow Natasha to stir the rice while it was cooking in the pot or shell fresh beans from the garden. It was familiar experiences like these that taught Natasha to have a love and appreciation for delicious home-cooked meals. Her father who is a prized bodybuilder and fitness trainer always encourages Natasha in sports and fitness activities from a young age. From that moment that Natasha knew her calling would involve working with food and health.

As it would be the road to success is never a straight or easy one. Several years later Natasha migrated to the U.S. to begin her journey into college. Going through the immigration process delayed her ability to pursue her dreams and pressure from a parent pushed her into the career working in Human Resources. Trying to find a place in this arena was like fitting a square peg in a round hole, but Natasha found her escape by cooking pies and lunches for her coworkers. During the 2008 recession, Natasha decided to pursue her dreams and took the plunge into a unique culinary program focused on Food Therapy (using food as medicine). This was the first step into a new chapter for Natasha.

The sacrifice, determination and hard work paid off significantly as Natasha was awarded a James Beard Scholarship and was able to create and run a boutique catering company in New York which lasted several years. During that time Natasha had the opportunity to compete in several competitions including Cut Throat Kitchen and The TASTE. Natasha also used her platform to advocate for Women who has endured domestic violence in underserved populations. These highlights were just a few for Natasha Ford. Life took another unexpected turn for Natasha, as she decided to relocate from the New York area after losing her home and ending her fourteen-year marriage.

Currently residing in North Carolina, Natasha worked with the Community College for the past two years to build an innovative program that prepares adults with disabilities for adequate roles in the Food Industry. This movement is the driver on her quest in building a business focused on sharing her wealth of knowledge in Food Therapy and Entrepreneurship to women in disadvantaged situations. She believes that by sharing all the knowledge and wisdom acquired along the way others would gain the ability to help themselves, families and thereby change their communities. Natasha’s motto is “Teach a Man how to fish, feed him for a lifetime”.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?

I grew up in the tropical island of Barbados and moved to New York after graduating High School. Living with an extended family taught me about the benefits of working together in getting tasks and other responsibilities completed. I also understood the power and importance of family dinner from a small child as I listened to the stories the adult would share on topics of politics, life issues and everything in between at the dinner table.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

One book that has made a significant impact in my life was given to me by a friend — It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden. A friend gave me this book during a time of my life where the feelings of failure and doubt kept coming to surface after the divorce. This book gave me the reassurance to continue my quest for success.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

I have several but one that sticks out to me often is “ the race is not for the swift or the strong but for those who persevere”. A classmate shared this quote one day in conversation. I say this to myself often when challenges arise, or things seems to be out of perspective. It reminds me to stay on course, run my own race and trust in Divine guidance and timing.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?

With all that has taken place since the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided it was time to share everything I had learned in Food Therapy and beyond and to partner with mental health, physical fitness and other professionals to offer a free online segment each week focused on the emotional, spiritual and physical issues people are facing during this time. I wanted to spread the message of hope during a time when others expressed despair.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?

In my opinion, heroes come in all shapes, situations, and sizes. A hero could be someone who ensures that the neighbors are doing okay during a national crisis. A hero could be a person who stands up and does what is right when everyone is afraid. A hero is someone who takes the time out to share whatever he/she can to assist another in need.

In your opinion or experience, what are “5 characteristics of a hero? Please share a story or example for each.

Five characteristics of a hero are:

  1. Persistent — Despite the challenges I have faced in life I have always know the benefits of never giving up on my goals. My immigration journey to citizenship took lots of persistence as I navigated through the laws and advocated for my rights and the rights to be a lawful citizen here in the U.S.
  2. Bravery — I believe it takes bravery to stand up for what is fair and equitable for myself and others. As an educator and advocate for those who have faced disadvantages due to different scenarios, it is important that I ensure that I use my platforms and every opportunity to speak up for solutions to be implemented to solve the problems.
  3. Deliberate — It takes being intentional to stand up as a hero. When I set out to create a change it is important to make calculated risk. In many times of my career, I had to be deliberate in executing the goals I set out to accomplish.
  4. Purposeful — I believe that all of our actions should come from a space of pure purpose. I remember my grandmother giving me the book a purpose-driven which describes the steps and benefits of living a life with purpose. It is my mission to have a purpose-filled life.
  5. Endurance — I believe to be persistent one must endure. Life has thrown many curve balls and unexpected instances. During this time my role as an educator at the college is coming to an end due to budget changes. Despite the changes, my focus is to endure and continue on the mission I have in building my school.

If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?

I believe it’s a divine spark that keeps burning and getting stronger that makes the ordinary person become a hero. When that spark ignites and keeps burning it is almost impossible to ignore the calling to make the difference or create the change.

What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?

When I began seeing and hearing the fears, stress, and anxiety being expressed by love ones, students and parents, business professionals who felt at a loss, and so many others in the community, it was impossible to sit by and just watch. I knew it was important to form this team and share the knowledge I acquired over the years. I know I needed to help even if it was a simple meal being prepared for friends or neighbors to help give some comfort in all the uncertainty. This is when I decided using social media, zoom meetings, and other platforms to teach classes, give demonstrations and give guidance to others would be my greatest ability to help those who needed it most. Now more than ever we must support each other as Small Businesses and Women Entrepreneurs. It is important that we structure and do things correctly so we can grow and succeed together.

Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?

My greatest heroes are my cousin and friends. I have several people I love and care for that have cancer and live in NYC and abroad that need to take extra measures in remaining healthy during this time. A few of my loved ones are essential workers and have caught the virus and still had to return to work after going through the healing process. They have given me the inspiration to keep going even when life does not go according to plans.

Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?

The biggest concern I have regarding the pandemic is people becoming used to social distancing and afraid of interacting with others after everything returns to some sense of normalcy.

Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain?

I am hopeful in the resilient spirit of mankind. I know that we will relearn how to live together once this pandemic under control. I also believe that this pandemic has allowed us to reconnect and get back on focusing on the most important things (our loved ones and each other). More than ever it is going to take unity for solutions to birth out of this chaos.

What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?

I am inspired by the ability for others to become creative in spending time and bonding with their loved ones. A lot of people are using their abilities to help others and businesses to keep going despite everything taking place.

I am disappointed by the folks who are using this time to take advantage or capitalize on the fears of others.

Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.

This crisis has not really caused me to reassess my view of society. In fact this has made me more hopeful and trusting that we are heading in the right direction in regards to global change.

What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?

I would love to see work-life balance reinstated where families and loved one could spend more time together and a lot of work-related opportunities offered online within reason. This would give folks an opportunity to spend quality time with families.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I would encourage the younger generation to continue to move forward in their efforts to create a collaborative and inclusive social environment. I believe there is strength in numbers and the changes necessary for a greater future will take collectively working together. Forming groups around causes, people can draw from each other’s strengths and uplift in areas of weakness.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

The movement I intend to start is a mentorship program where young women entrepreneurs have the opportunity to receive the skills and support (financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc) to succeed in their businesses while becoming mentors/guides for special needs and disadvantaged individuals who are capable of working and truly need the opportunity. I believe this movement would be a win-win for everyone.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have lunch with Michelle Obama. I think she is a woman of exceptional character and I would love the opportunity to sit with her and gain insight on several topics pertaining to being a woman of purpose.

How can our readers follow you online?

Your readers can follow me online at www.natashachef.com or on social media @natashachef

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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