We had the good fortune of connecting with Alphise Washington and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alphise, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
Consistency and being persistent ! These 2 things amongst others have helped me to grow and succeed over the years personally and professionally.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I believe that most chefs dream of owning their own restaurant or being a Head chef at some point. When I began my culinary journey I was not certain where I would land. Being a female chef is not easy, I’m a double minority. This restaurant industry is male dominated. The great Leah Chase told me once that kitchen the 1 place where we, black women have always been and now they don’t want us here. She said fight like hell and give them hell, without us these kitchens would make it. I have worked hard and been consistent from culinary school until current day. The kitchen is a rigorous environment.
I am known for my inventive take on modern soul food, as well as comfort classics. I attempt to defy the “black people only eat soul food” stereotype. Good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege. One of my goals is to ensure traditional Southern foods, recipes and preparations continue to live on and be passed down. We must be transparent with our information and our techniques, and pass along to the next generation. Black chefs remain underrepresented in fine dining, they
are not getting recognition. Chefs still have to navigate the same racial politics as other black
professionals. Black cooks have historically seen their foods and techniques co-opted, getting
little credit for their influence on America’s culinary traditions. Black hands have always been in
American food in some form or fashion. The key to maintaining the current momentum, begins
by addressing lingering barriers and stereotypes. Restaurant investors and the food media
remain largely white, and those two sectors have significant influence over the fate of chefs and
There must be some sort of representation in those spaces, stories of black history, black chefs
and black cuisine will just be trend pieces that mark a moment that can fade at any time,
As a female African- American chef most people just look right through me to find a person in authority.
Everything is made from scratch with me.. Following recipe
books is cool, but it really takes a really good chef to come and put soul into the recipe and make
it come alive and touch people. You have to have a passion for it. It’s a very hard job. TV glorifies being a chef, but it’s extremely hard. It has its ups and downs. It’s always surprising to people when they see me come out of the kitchen because they’re like “that’s not you back there cooking in the kitchen!” I’m
like ‘Yes, it is! This is my passion. I love it. I’m making my own sauces; I’m back there, butchering meat, cutting fish and chickens. I really believe in using the freshest of ingredients and putting all of my heart and soul in every piece of food. I want
people to love it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Definitely Victory of course! I love and enjoy Toast on Lenox, the Garden Room, Little Alley and Bistro Niko. Catching a show at the Fox, a stroll through Piedmont park, a visit to the World of Cocoa Cola, Centennial Park,High Art Museum, Ponce City Market. Take a trip to Chateau Elan to wind down.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have an amazing support system of family and friends that encourage and motivate me constantly, for that I very grateful. My son Jackson motivates me to be the best I can be always! There are several chefs who have mentored me over the years. Chef Mark Holley in Houston was very instrumental in my growth professionally. Ricardo Young, owner of Victory Restaurant who hired me as Executive Chef, for his Atlanta location. There are not many Black female chefs in this role, it is a huge responsibility, but I am up for the task and happy to be in Atlanta. A book that I have read and live by is , Agent You, written by sports agent Nicole Lynn. The book is full of great gems, very honest and though provoking.
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