We had the good fortune of connecting with Crysten Wells and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Crysten, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
I don’t see myself “retiring” from my cooking career. Cooking & food will always be apart of my life. I hope by the “end”, I’ll have income from the things that I’ve created over the years that will still continue to make money for me. I hope to have one or two major clients that can support the lifestyle that I’ve created for myself & I’ll throw some dinners & shindigs every now & again to make sure I am still feeding the people. I don’t do this all for myself, I do it for the people who know & understand how food makes a difference in one’s life & the people who just enjoy great food from a personable. fun & dope black woman chef ! I want to be able to spend time with my family, birth given & the one I’ll create, throughout & after my career & show them that you can do what you love & make all your dreams & goals come to life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a culinary artist, a chef by trade. I can set myself apart from others just by taste alone. You eat with your eyes so it has to look good but at the end, the food has to say it all. My food talks for itself & that’s the most rewarding part. I’m working on some ideas now that are something other than food to offer & I can’t wait for the execution & outcome of these ideas. I’ve worked in many different food industry jobs throughout college, majority of the time I worked two jobs plus classes. From Panera Bread, Longhorn Steakhouse, Uncle Julio’s, Sur la Table & finally Buffalo Wild Wings (2013-2016), my positions changed positively, I learned all I could learn without being a manager & took my jobs seriously so I can truly grasp what I wanted for my future. After graduating in 2016, I started working in a country club & remained doing that for three years. That job took me the closest to where I knew I wanted to be more than a restaurant owner or someone’s line cook for 10, 15, 20+ years. It has been almost two & half years since I launched “The Lipstick Chef” & almost two years since I’ve left the country club. Was it easy? Not in the slightest & I still struggle most days. Sometimes, at least not right away, your passion can’t pay your bills, but this life is more than bills. I still work a “normal” job, but I offer food plates & seasonal menus every so often, I like to practice making food & selling it or just having people eat with me, I post on social medias & watch food shows to keep my information bank filled with ideas, thoughts & knowledge. The lessons I’ve learned are not being afraid to ask for help, feel fear & do it anyway (still working on that), being mindful of my money, & where food can take me. I want the world to know that art evokes emotion, my canvas is your plate, & I want you to feel the goodness, in your heart, mind, body & spirit.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
HA! I don’t like this question because, although I’ve lived in Atlanta for over nine years, I still feel like I haven’t seen enough *makes sad face*. But, just based of my experiences, I would take my bestfriend/sister Nadia to The Vortex. This place has the best burgers & drinks, the atmosphere isn’t for the weak or children & that’s how we like it. I enjoy the Midtown location the best but the Little Five Points location is cool too. Out on Buford Highway, there are so many types of cuisines to try, from Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Soul Food, allat! There is a Korean BBQ spot I went to called Iron Age; it’s a fun experience where you cook your own food, unlimited meat (love my meat) & all for a buffet price, can’t pass that up. Tin Lizzy’s Cantina has a place near & dear to my heart; I had my first official tequila shot there when I turned 21 & they have this award winning taco called The Low Country Boil, with shrimp, chorizo, corn, red pepper, tater tots & chipotle sauce, so good. For good drinks, Tony’s Sports Bar is cool, not to expensive & the music hits pretty good. La Parrilla has the best queso called La Parrilla dip that comes with shrimp, chicken & steak in the queso. & since birria tacos have become more popular, I found a dope spot off I-285, the Jonesboro exit (I hate how I can’t remember the name right now) & they have birria tacos, quesadillas, burritos & fries, with beef or chicken. & to go out, I enjoy The Royal Peacock, Encore, Traffik, or go to a friend’s house & have our own party! Of course you have your tourist attractions, but even a bomb hike through a trail or up a mountain is a great way to reconnect back to yourself & get in a good sweat.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
NADIA LYNCH ! aka NerdiaNadia on IG & Twitter. We’ve been friends since 2006, but she’s always been more than just my friend. She is the sister that I never had & God knew what He was doing when He brought her into my life. Even with us moving away for college & starting our careers, she has always supported me. She eats my food, talks about my food, shares my food & helps me when I’m feeling “not enough” some days. She is super creative in her own right & that alone is an inspiration to keep pushing. She is truly someone I’m blessed to call my sister & walk this journey with. Shoutout to my momma for her continuous support of my passion & career. She is my rock, my better half & I don’t know what I’d do without her. My mentors Chef TJ Reddick & Chef Ashanti Toi; they were classmates of mine in college & now, they both are in places in their careers where things are moving & they give me a “boost” when it comes to how I wanna shape my own career. They are helpful whenever I reach out & I’m thankful for that for sure. Shoutout to my lovely lady sous chefs, Chef Sammie Rodney & Chef Quisha Denson & my photographers, Miracle Sturdivant, Amanda Ton & Bysim Parker. I like to handle parties & projects on my own for the most part but whenever I need an extra hand, my lady sous chefs got my back. Sometimes I don’t have the extra money to pay them but with the time they have & the love for me, they come through & I’m appreciative every time. My photographers are a huge part of how I show the world what I do & they capture it so beautifully. At the end of the day, I have a village behind me that supports me & is rooting for me & again, God blessed me forreal.
Crysten Wells Amanda Ton Miracle Sturdivant Bysim Parker Breana Wright