After such a turbulent year in the food industry, happy stories from the culinary world are a bright spot to watch out for. Today, publisher Brian Calle and grocery editor Michele Stueven are doing just that and are cooking up another gourmet edition of the LA Weekly Podcast with famous Los Angeles chef Nyesha Arrington.
As one of Michelle’s favorite chefs, the hosts have a lot of questions. When did Nyesha know that food would be her life? When did she know this was the path she was going to take?
“I feel like a chef who definitely chose me. It wasn’t something I thought I wanted to be a chef. When I look back on my life as a child and as a young adult, I always cooked and I enjoyed it. I cooked for my friends when I was in middle school and made these soups, I always made these soups, and then I kind of lost [it], “She replies.” In high school they say, ‘What are you going to do with your life?’ And I’ve kind of forgotten my passion because the world is going to tell you, ‘Oh, you have to be a doctor or a lawyer.’ I don’t know, when I was in school it was like having to figure everything out by the time you graduate from high school. You know, I put cooking on the back burner for a second, which only lasted about three months before I said, “Oh, I want to be a chef!”
“That’s what my life told me all along,” she continues. “So I went to cookery school.”
Cooking school turned out to be the right choice as it led her innate passion to a full-blown career.
“I remember the first day I was in class when I listened to the chef … and he was so excited about sauce and sauce making that it made me very passionate,” says Nyesha. This was the root and foundation that prompted the young chef to work as a saucier in Michelin-rated restaurants.
“It’s something I really loved,” she says of the hosts about the complexity of their previous job. “I think cooking has always been something ingrained in me because I really love connecting with the planet we are on and I think cooks are nurses at the end of the day.”
“In any case, I live who I am supposed to be on this planet, that’s for sure,” laughs Nyesha.
In an effort to make her passion for food touch the lives of more people, Nyesha plans to launch a range of retail sauces soon. The sauces are named after their grandmother.
Nyesha started her path at a very young age due to the love and guidance of her grandma who Nyesha had as sous chef in the kitchen whenever she could.
“I cooked a lot with my grandmother and really appreciated this time,” says Nyesha. Today she passes these memories and skills on to her nephew, her “resident egg cracker”.
“I’m always trying to find ways to bring some of this culture and some of this soul into other people’s homes and onto other people’s plates, so you know, for me, my affinity for sauces and my affinity for essential storytelling.” This sauce was created with aromas, ”she explains.
You have to be brave in your steps and have the will to learn in order to be successful in the food industry, advises our guest. Having closed two restaurants herself, she is all too familiar with the incredible peaks and valleys that are a normal part of cooking life.
“I love to see the smiling faces of people who eat my food [and hear] the nice conversation between the tables. It is a great honor for me to be able to do this for the people, ”says Nyesha happily.
From empowering Selena Gomez and friends in the kitchen at HBO Max Selena + boss Nyesha Arrington discusses the state of the industry in a post-COVID world LA Weekly Podcast. Listen to the podcast Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Cumulus Los Angeles.