CLEVELAND — Veganism is growing in popularity. According to the Good Food Institute, "plant-based food sales in 2020 grew two times faster than overall food sales."
One Cleveland native is bringing the lifestyle to her hometown as a personal chef.
“Il faut chercher pour la paix pendant le processus," is written on a chalkboard hanging up in Chaundrea Simmons' kitchen. "It means that one must search for peace during the process," she said.
The kitchen is where Simmons feels most at peace.
“It’s my safe spot," she said. "When I wrote that I was going through a time where I just felt as though I wasn’t as optimistic and that I wasn’t as hopeful. So, I wrote that because I had to search for peace and it was just in my kitchen, it was just a reminder.”
Chaundrea Simmons feels most at peace in the kitchen.— Micaela Marshall (@MMarshallTV) August 26, 2021
She says she found her purpose as a vegan personal chef, but it wasn’t a straight line to get there. I'll introduce you to this Cleveland native cooking up good eats with big dreams on @SpectrumNews1OH. @Wrapitupshea pic.twitter.com/9QBhXQZCdA
Simmons is a vegan personal chef in Cleveland. She owns Shea Restaurant LLC, which is a relatively new business.
“This is what I’m supposed to be doing," she said.
She made homemade strawberry hand pies for a photoshoot when Spectrum News was there for the interview.
“It’s part of my unwind time," she said.
Creating vegan food from scratch is her specialty.
“Being a part of the entire process is my favorite thing to do," said Simmons.
Simmons has been a vegetarian since high school and became a vegan after college.
“It would be hard to find those things, so I would just make my own food," she said.
She loves how meals have a way of connecting people and Simmons wants to cultivate a community in her hometown.
“I want to have a restaurant that people come to that the servers know their name. That when I see them pulling into the parking lot or pulling in front of the building, I’m already working on the things that they like to eat," said Simmons.
She planned to open a physical restaurant last year, but that didn’t end up happening. COVID-19 certainly changed things, which is actually a blessing in disguise if you ask her.
“I’m just looking at it as a way that I was able to reach more people and gain a larger audience because I switched to personal cheffing," she said.
Simmons feels she found her purpose as a chef, but it wasn’t a straight line to get there.
“I would cook for people, but I never thought of it as a career ever," she said.
She said she was fired from a few corporate jobs.
“I was being told what to do, but with food I can tell food what to do," said Simmons.
And that’s when she decided her passion should also be her paycheck.
“I started to cook more and more and then I started to cook for people. People started to ask me to cater things for them and cook for them and do meal preps and things like that. So, it just kind of turned into something beautiful," she said.
Annette of AMQ Media is her food photographer. They met at church.
“We kind of turned our likes, our interests into businesses kind of around the same time," said Simmons.
For Simmons things have really come full circle, and her story isn’t over yet. Simmons' goal of opening a restaurant in Cleveland is still on the horizon.
“Things in my life that might have seemed as though they were taken me off my path actually helped me to become who I am today," she said.