With her passion for food and cooking for others, Chef Chassis Hawkins-Younger was able to establish her own business, Foodtellect Personal Chef Service. Chef Chassis is currently a member of the United States Personal Chef Association and is a certified ServSafe food handler. We had the chance to interview Chef Chassis about her business, how she started in the culinary industry, and some helpful tips on cooking. Here’s what we learned:
FriendsEAT: Tell us a little something about your business.
Chef Chassis Hawkins-Younger: My best cuisine is the personalized custom cuisine that my clients enjoy!
FE: What makes your business special?
Chef Chassis: What makes my business special is that it’s personal. I’m allowed the freedom to be as creative as I want as long as it’s within the lines of my clients’ likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions if there are any.
FE: Where did you train?
Chef Chassis: I attended the Art Institute of Washington in Arlington, VA and received my Associates in Culinary Arts. After that I went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale and received my Bachelor’s in Culinary Management. My total amount of experience out of school in the kitchen is about 7 years now including entertainment venues, restaurants, hotels, etc.
FE: Did you grow up cooking or did cooking come to you later in life?
Chef Chassis: I started cooking and experimenting by myself at the age of 12, but it wasn’t until I turned 18 or 19 that I actually decided that it was something that I wanted to pursue as a career choice.
FE: Who in your life influenced your cooking the most?
Chef Chassis: My mom and my grandmother – I grew up eating their food so I’m big on comfort food (healthy, not-so-healthy, fusion comfort, you name it)
FE: What made you decide to become a chef?
Chef Chassis: Well, it was either culinary or veterinary medicine. Two totally different ends of the scale, I know! I love cooking. The idea of taking so many simplistic ingredients that do so little on their own and making something grander that looks, smells, and tastes great to other people. Making people feel great when they eat, creating an experience even if it’s for a weeknight dinner. There’s no greater compliment than an “mmm” from another person.
FE: What misconceptions do people have when they first enter the culinary field?
Chef Chassis: That it’s easy. That everything they learned in culinary school will aid them in the real kitchen line. Learning the basics is key, yes, but you don’t really learn anything until jumping into the real world be it a restaurant, a catering company, etc. That’s when the actual learning and the burns begin.
FE: What is the best cooking tip you can share for a novice?
Chef Chassis: Start earlier than you think you need to. Always give yourself time for the occasional mistake, mishap, and unbought grocery item. Lastly, try new things and use recipes as a guideline only. Make it yours.
FE: What are your three favorite cooking tools?
Chef Chassis: My Santoku, my wire whisk, and my rubber spatula.
FE: What is the craziest thing that has happened in your kitchen?
Chef Chassis: Getting burned by sugar? It wasn’t necessarily MY kitchen, rather the kitchen that I worked in under an awesome Chef, but that’s my craziest moment to date.
FE: What is your favorite ingredient to cook with and why?
Chef Chassis: Basil. I live for and love basil. If I could make a perfume to wear every day it would be basil. The earthy smell is like nirvana to me and the taste? Oh man! It’s been my favorite herb since I was 12.
FE: When you’re home, what is your guilty food pleasure?
Chef Chassis: Pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut. White chocolate strawberry bread pudding made by me.
FE: What is your favorite cookbook? (not your own).
Chef Chassis: Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World
Foodtellect Personal Chef Service is located at 145 Fleet Street #234, National Harbor, MD 20745
Nearby Landmarks: The Carousel at National Harbor, The Western Washington, and Wyndham Vacation Restorts
Phone Number: (301) 836-1875