We had the good fortune of connecting with Chef Ashley Shep and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chef Ashley, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Where I grew up in the South, everything was either deep-fried, smothered, covered, you name it! For Black and Brown communities, this tends to be the trend no matter where you live. In some ways, it’s due to lack of access to affordable produce, food deserts, or even simply not knowing how to prepare healthier options for their families. Consequently, rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are also sky-high in our people and the country as a whole. That’s why it’s my mission to show that healthy food can still taste good, salt isn’t the only seasoning, and dinner doesn’t have to take all day to make. I show folks how to make quick, healthy recipes in order to create generational lifestyle changes for our children for years to come.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
One thing that I’m most proud of is the impact that the work that I’m doing has on children and generations to come. I’m a teacher by trade, and so I have a special place in my heart for kids. My business started as a way to help busy moms get dinner done faster without ordering take out. With my meal planning and prepping services, I focus on families, because they need it the most. Moms are generally the ones in charge of feeding their family, but they’re stressed. They want something quick, easy, and healthy that their kids will enjoy. But because they’re too tired or burnt out, they get take out or fast food more often than they’d like. I found that the options that were out there for moms included recipes that were a page long, including some long story that they skipped, and didn’t always taste that great. So that’s where I help out. Instead of just giving recipes, I teach strategies to make moms efficient, yet lazy cooks. I let them know that I don’t cook every night of the week, and they don’t have to either. Mom guilt is real, but we don’t have to let it overtake us. I encourage them by letting them know every home-cooked meal whether it’s semi-homemade or not, is still a win. And most importantly, I teach them that the healthy habits that they’re making for their children are worth 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?
People often want to question why I live so far away from the actual Atlanta. That’s because the northside has just about everything I need. If a friend were visiting from out of town, we’d make our first stop at Smallcakes Snellville. This spot is Black and veteran-owned by two sisters who are the sweetest. We’d get our cupcakes to go so we could enjoy it later in one of the many beautiful parks that Gwinnett county has to offer. We’d spread out a blanket and listen to so music as well. Before dessert, we’d check out one of my favorite Thai spots, Lavendar Thai in Lawrenceville or Talay Thai Cuisine in Suwanee. They both have Chinese and lighter options so there’s some variety of what to choose from. My favorites are the Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp, Mongolian Chicken, or the spring rolls. Finally, to walk off the cupcakes, we’d head to the Avalon where we could do some outdoor shopping and get dinner from Oak Steakhouse. If my friend wasn’t in the mood for cupcakes, then we’d swing over to Cinnaholic in Peachtree Corners for customizable cinnamon rolls with every flavor combination under the sun that you can think of. If it’s summer time, then we’d swing by one of the local Farmer’s Markets for some more local eats in downtown Duluth.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shout out to my circle. From my mom, my siblings to extended family members who are always supporting me through purchasing my books, letting me bounce ideas off of them, I thank them because their guidance has helped more than they could ever know. To my business bestie, you are the MVP for always being up when I’m up to ask questions and give spiritual insight. I’d like to also give a shout out to my online community the Food Fam! Most of us aren’t actually related, but we take care of each other when times are hard, laughing when times are good, and all have a genuine love for the group. I appreciate the support from each of you and pray that I’ve been able to help you in some small way as much as you’ve helped me.
Other: Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FoodFamwithChefAshleyShep
FLM Photography Ty Myrick Chef Ashley Shep