One of the best things about Southern cooking is the audience – friends and family coming together for a special, home cooked meal.
That’s the approach of Chef Monica, who not only is considered a celebrity in the kitchen but also has created her own spice company, Chef Monica Blends.
Her mission is to bring more families back to the table, and hopes that offering better choices for tasty food with fresh ingredients can do it. She enjoys encouraging people to create better dining habits by eating foods that are better for them and more sustainable for the environment.
Chef Monica also takes the bold step of starting with traditional Southern fare, putting a few twists on it, and maybe even introducing some elements from other styles. The results are always wonderful – something that’s good and good for you.
She’s also her prominence in culinary circles to reach out to disadvantaged populations – she’s taught classes for youth groups, suicide prevention organizations, domestic violence victims, churches and other groups that are helping community members.
The graduate of Appalachian State College and the Art Institute of Charlotte recently shared her background and upcoming projects.
How do you describe your style of cooking?
I’d call it modern Southern cuisine. Think clean-minimalist Southern comfort, making dishes that make you feel cozy and warm.
What kind of training did you have?
I started cooking at age 6 – a love for it came from my grandmothers, including one grandma who taught me how to cook eggs. My brother and I had talked about owning a family restaurant someday. I was doing catering in my 20s. After his death, I decided to go back to school for formal training to be a chef with a culinary degree. So I earned a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition, and an associate degree in Culinary Arts.
Tell us about your spice blends.
One of my companies, Chef Monica Blends, launched a signature spice line in 2018. People can get them at the Spruced Goose Station Eats and Treats in McAdenville, North Carolina, or through Amazon Prime through a partnership with Holy Angels, a non-profit. Look for more retail locations soon!
What do you do when you’re not cooking?
I love photography, dancing, playing cards, traveling. I’m a mother of three and a grandmother of two. I believe in family. My family is wonderful – I also get a lot of support from friends, plus my medical team and support team. My mom is especially good at helping me find balance and keep my pace.
Follow Chef Monica on all social media platforms for the latest news and updates.
All images by Insight Photography