We all know food is heavily a part of our culture in all shapes, ways, and forms. There are a lot of talented chef’s who are amazing at what they do and with food, it’s a good way to allow people into the chef’s world because it helps them express themselves to others. Chef Ari, a young chef from Long Island, NY, has been expressing herself through her food for quite some time. As a way to build herself, she started out cooking for close family and friends and then took it public when she decided to post consistently on her social media platforms. Since building her name, Chef Ari has taken her cooking talents to help sponsor events with popular brands such as Adidas and Urban Outfitters.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Chef Ari to talk about her upbringing as a chef, inspirations to start cooking, how she goes about creating her perfect dish, her opinion on the direct correlation between food, culture and music and more in our full interview below.
1 – How did you get involved in culinary?
I started off cooking for my immediate friends and family, they became my personal taste testers. Any meal I made I would ALWAYS ask for feedback just to make sure that they were pleased with whatever the dish was. I slowly became comfortable enough to post my dinners on my social media channels. My followers then began asking me questions like “Can you teach me how to cook?” or “How can I get a plate?” or even simply just complimenting the dishes that I’ve made. Then one day I just thought to myself – ‘You cook all the time, why not take that leap of faith and invest in branding yourself?’ The exciting part for me is that I really never stop learning. I make mistakes but always learn from them. The rest is history in the making.
2 – What inspired you to be a chef?
People usually laugh when I say this but I literally eat 24/7. If there was a 25th hour I would eat then, too. In all seriousness, food has always made me happy and I knew that if I learned how to make the food that I was in the mood for I would be even HAPPIER. There are definitely some learning styles that I’ve taken from my dad and my late grandma but I guess you can say my biggest inspiration is providing happiness.
3 – What was the first dish you ever made?
My first dish was Shrimp Alfredo. LOL contrary to popular twitter beliefs, shrimp alfredo is actually an amazing starter meal in my opinion. My first time wasn’t my best time, but that’s what trial and error is for. You keep trying until you get it done how you want it to be done.
4 – Why did you decide to be a chef? Of all the things you possibly could’ve done, why did you choose this profession?
The thing about me is that I don’t ever limit myself. Cooking is one of the many passions that I have. God has blessed me with this talent and I just couldn’t ignore. When you enjoy doing something, it doesn’t feel like work and that was the lightbulb for me. Surprisingly, becoming a chef has opened many doors for me in other aspects of my life that I plan to excel in. It’s funny how one blessing can lead to others but I’ve learned to embrace these opportunities as opposed to questioning them.
5 – On average, how long does it normally take you to “perfect” a creation? In other words, what steps do you take in order to make a creation of yours just the way you want it, both taste and presentation wise.
It truly depends on my mood. There are times when my dishes come out exactly how I want it to the first time and there are times where I feel like the dish could have had more/less of something. If I find myself getting frustrated I’ll stop cooking. I cook based off energy, if my vibe isn’t in it I won’t do it. I’m a strong believer in how you feel while cooking will transfer into your final product. One thing I won’t do is quit on myself, even if I have to buy all the groceries over and try it again another day. Truthfully, I’m still perfecting dishes as I go. I know a year from now I might learn something new that I can add to a dish that I made before. That’s the exciting part about cooking!
6 – In your opinion, do you believe that food, being a chef, in particular, resonates with our culture as heavily as things like music and fashion do? Why or why not?
Absolutely. What I love about our culture is that we’re a melting pot of so many different aspects of life, food included. I also love when cultures cross, for instance — one of my best guy friends booked me to cater for his grandmother’s 100th birthday party. His family is Haitian, but my cooking style and what they booked me for was mainly Jamaican/American dishes. When I tell you I was NERVOUS! I literally was thinking to myself “Omg, what if they don’t like the food or what if it’s not what they expected!” In times like that, your confidence truly has to kick in like no other. What I loved about that night was that the family was receptive to everything! They asked questions and gave compliments the entire night, down to the security guard lol. Music, fashion & food are unique ways to express yourself and that expression can open the minds of others to things they weren’t always accustomed to. It’s so dope.
7 – How do you view food? Secondly, how do you want people to view your food?
FOOD IS LIFE! In all seriousness, food gives us life. I want people to view my food as “fire” — lol, I use that term for a lot but when getting recommendations & people say “book EntrèesbyAri her food is fire!” it makes me wanna pop my collar & dust my shoulders a lil bit. That may sound super corny but it’s so true. My heart is so full with every compliment and every single recommendation. It’s just like wow… you wanna book me? ME? it’s still a reality I’m adjusting to. Which is also cool because I never want to lose my excitement when it comes to this. I feel like a kid again. Even when I get booked for collaborative events with brands such as Adidas and Urban Outfitters; once I get over that initial “Oh my goodness, i’m about to pass out” from excitement feeling, I’m just grateful that someone genuinely thought of me. The recommendations really take me to a new level of appreciation because then not only did you enjoy the food but you also are trying to extend the experience to someone else. I have a love rush every time. lol
8 – In regards to your profession, what has been the biggest piece of advice anyone has given you?
Phew. I’ve received so much amazing advice within the past year of me cooking and they all sit with me, especially in times of confusion. One thing that always replays, (significantly because more than one person has said it) is “Keep Going” those two words mean so much because as an entrepreneur it’s easier to just give up when it feels like everything is not going according to plan. It’s honestly okay to detach, I promise — just make sure you “Keep Going”
9 – What piece of advice would you give to the emerging chef?
Emerging Chefs! If you’re reading this, please know that I am still you. Hard work and dedication to my passion is what pushes me. My brand depends on me which makes the reward feel that much better. If you are ever feeling defeated or frustrated, please take a break. It’s okay to pause as long as you don’t forget to press play again. Wishing you all everlasting success. Feel free to message me if you ever are stuck and need words of encouragement or just want to chat. IG – @entreesbyari
10 – What other moves can we expect from Chef Ari as we move throughout the last few months of the year?
I have a few brand collabs up my sleeve & I’m also in the works of planning a feed the homeless event with another chef. If you’re interested in helping out and for all updates and to stay in touch with ya girl subscribe to my website! www.entreesbyari.com