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Plant Power!

Plant Power!

We've heard so much about the virtues of eating more plants- everything from improving your diet to benefiting the planet- so we wanted to dig into the plant-based movement with Silvana, the chef and founder of Soul Cocina. We talked about the inspiration behind her tasty and colorful meals, and why she believes everyone can benefit from incorporating more veggies into their diet. She specializes in plant-based & gluten free meals that are wholesome and delicious, and you can find her menu on Supper Meals each week. 

SMWhat inspires you to cook?

Silvana: At Soul Cocina, we understand the time and effort it takes to eat healthy. Our aim is to deliver ready-made meals that both taste amazing and are rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients. All you need to do is reheat and enjoy! 

I'm originally from a Latin American culture that is centered on community and agriculture, so I wanted to bring that to North Carolina with Soul Cocina, a culinary experience that focuses on healthy, mindful eating.

SM: How would you describe your nutrition philosophy?

Silvana: We don’t believe in stringent calorie counting. Instead, we believe in counting the quality of nutrition. Good fats are essential to optimal body function. Your body cannot live without fat! If you eat wholefoods, sugar-free, plant-based food, your body is going to process it quickly and efficiently, converting it into a vital energy source.  It’s going to heal your body, nourish your cells, increase your skin elasticity and boost your brain function. 

All of our products are 100% free of refined sugar, gluten and wheat free, no added MSG, artificial coloring, additives or preservatives and 100% fresh.  Our meals do not contain eggs, dairy, or any other animal products. We don’t believe in fad or short-term diets; instead, we believe in creating long term, sustainable and healthy eating choices to give you a renewed vitality and the natural tools to thrive and feel the best you possibly can.

SM: We're loving your packaging! Can you talk a little about how you think about eating plant-based in the context of sustainability?

Silvana: Healthy food deserves healthy packaging. We use sustainable, compostable, biodegradable and recyclable packaging. Our packaging is made from plant fibers, is free of harmful chemicals and is safe for the environment. Our containers are microwave, oven and freezer safe. The lids are microwave safe but not oven safe. 

5 Questions with Jill Santa-Lucia, Owner of Catering Works

5 Questions with Jill Santa-Lucia, Owner of Catering Works

You may not know Jill, but there’s a good chance she’s fed you, perhaps at a wedding, office lunch, or special event. Jill, the owner and boss lady at Catering Works, has built an impressive catering company dedicated to professionalism and customer service. Her delicious food can be found throughout Raleigh, and most recently, creating quite the buzz at Raleigh’s Cooking for a Cause competition. We sat down with Jill to talk business, life, and most important, baked goods.

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SM: Do you remember the first catering order that ever came in? And follow up, did you do a happy dance?

Jill: My very first job for hire was for the CEO of Wake Med Hospital back in 1989. I did a large Italian buffet for them at their house.

And not quite a happy dance but back then we said “Swing Batter.” We aimed to hit home runs, and we did. Many more events followed.  

SM: You make amazing baked goods. What’s your all-time favorite dessert?

Jill: This is a hard one. I love a really great brownie. My brown butter brownie is my go to, but my favorite dessert is Pavlova with lemon curd and berries and white chocolate Passion fruit Mousse. When I was pregnant with my daughter I ate 6 chocolate chip cookies a day...I know, horrible. My daughter happens to love them too! 

SM:  What’s one trait you’d encourage young girls who want to become boss ladies like you to develop?

Jill: Follow your passion, love what you do, be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to stand up for what you want. 

SM: Have you ever cried over spilt milk? Or any other kitchen-related disaster?

Jill: We have had some challenges over the years.  Working through hurricanes and doing 6 weddings in the dark was a true test of how tough we are. We had to revamp the menu on the fly without power. I mean, who can tell a crying bride we can’t cook on her special day.

We once set up a wedding cake in a home and the family dog came through and took a nice bite out of it.

We could write a book…

SM: There are so many domestic-gurus out there. Got a favorite? Martha, Gwyneth, heck, even Oprah, who apparently doesn’t cook has a cook book now!

Jill: Martha was who inspired me back in the day. I had a friend who worked for her and I got meet her before she was a big name. I loved how she artfully displayed everything. I also was a big fan of Chef Jerimiah Tower but my biggest domestic inspiration was my grandma. She made the best cookies, pies, dumplings…

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Well there you have it. Jill's met Martha, cooked through a hurricane, eaten through a pregnancy, and built a business focused on professionalism and hospitality. #bosslady

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