Chakayla J. Taylor is a self-taught chef who uses the healing properties of food to create safe-spaces for creatives to connect and build in a delicious, unconventional way. She has created a brand focused on helping dynamic people create stability and purpose in their professional, entrepreneurial and personal lives. As the founder of The Power Plate, an intimate dinner series she started in her home, Chakayla enjoys providing nourishment in the form of food, drink and positive conversation. Founded in October 2018, The Power Plate has served as a creative extension of her entrepreneurship and business studies at her alma mater Wake Forest University, along with a Life Coach certification she earned in 2016. Chakayla’s culinary aesthetic is inspired by fresh produce, seasonal ingredients and international seasonings. She truly enjoys going into her kitchen and producing comfort foods anyone would enjoy: "I knew I loved to cook when I could just go into the kitchen, clean out the pantry and fridge, and make a home cooked meal that tasted like I dedicated the entire day to preparing it." Along with being the founder and owner of The Power Plate, she is the mother of two beautiful sons, Emmanuel & Elijah. She affectionately has nicknamed them her “mini-taste testers.'“
Feeding Your Mind, Body & SOUL w/ Chef Chakayla Taylor
K: When did you first discover your love/passion for cooking?
Chef Chakayla: When I was 8 years old, my mother would invite me into her kitchen and tell me to take a seat and look. I remember her teaching me the proper ways to clean, season and fry chicken. It was during those moments I remember watching her chocolate fingers, adorned with french tips, grab a knife and chop peppers, onions and garlic and sauteing it in oil for her famous chili mac recipe. It was during these intimate, special moments with my mom, where it was just me and her. She taught me everything I know. I am so thankful that she passed down a craft to me that I love to experiment with. Interestingly enough, it was during this time when I remember my dad introducing Emeril Lagasse and hearing his constantly " BAM, BAM, BAM," when he would delightfully ladle on a huge serving of marinara sauce over a piping hot plate of lasagna. I remember just hanging out in my mom and dad's room, GLUED to the television screen as each show on The Food Network aired and ended. It was in this space of time that I knew I wanted to cook! I knew I wanted to celebrate my heritage through various dishes and meals.
K: Tell us more about The Power Plate! What inspired you to launch this?
Chef Chakayla: The Power Plate is an intimate, curated dining experience that includes catering and retail pop-ups! The Power Plate was an idea that I held on to for about 2 years. And for those that truly know me, this is a rarity for me. When I have an idea, I launch and execute it right there on the spot. When my company was founded, it was November 2018, I was in a space of obtaining abundance and praying that this abundance would lead me down a creative path. During this time, I was a single mother to two young children under the age of 5 years old and working full time as a personal banker. In my first 5 months of my single motherhood, I moved back home to Charlotte, NC from Dallas, TX, I had just left a 7-year relationship and was ready to start a brand new life with my children. This transition showed me that it was time to build a community off of good food and good vibes, where creative people like me could find a haven, a space where they could be themselves. Independence and freedom were truly the fuel to the flame. There was nothing but time, space and opportunity and I began to use cooking as an extension of my life coaching certification that I earned in 2016.
K: What quote or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?
Chef Chakayla: My mother used to say this to my sister and I when we were little girls, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!" Until this very day, I say this to myself. It reminds me that I am so blessed to get a chance to create and express myself through food.
K: What characteristics do you most admire in other creative women?
Chef Chakayla: Honestly, I admire their perseverance and RAW, creative talent. I love to see when another fellow queen is walking in her passion and strictly walking by faith. It is the most beautiful and inspiring thing about them.
K: Name your greatest success (or something you're most proud of) in your business experiences.
Chef Chakayla: When I first read this, I was going to say my children. And now, that I read it again, my answer remains the same. My children have downloaded special messages to my heart and mind that have allowed me to create the various business ventures I have embarked on since 2013. I am so proud of the love and drive my children pour into me because it continues to motivate me to create dope experiences and projects like my latest Spyce Collection. To date, my children have inspired me to launch an artisan line of spice mixes that are truly inspired by the zodiac signs. This work that I am doing in my business has become very intentional and thought-driven. I must think with my north (my heart), with every service and product that I launch and honestly, it begins and ends with my children. I am truly blessed.
K: In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before launching their own business?
Chef Chakayla: With this question, I want to be straight up. Instead of offering explanations to the things I am going to suggest, I am just going to list them and CHALLENGE you all reading this to complete them:
1. Create a business rooted in your passion.
2. Research and read. Read and research.
3. Build an online and offline community of entrepreneurs and business-savvy people, who are smarter than YOU.
K: Today, meal planning is in! When it comes to meal planning for me, it is super tough to start and also stick to due to my crazy schedule! Do you believe in meal planning? If so, what tricks of the trade do you have for a successful meal prep?
Chef Chakayla: I believe in the power of LEFTOVERS. Meal prepping is awesome for those it works for. But for me, I am all about maximizing my leftovers from a large weekend dinner. For instance, I am currently taking my Instagram platform on a journey with me to perfect my roasted chicken recipe. During this journey, I am showing folks how to truly STRETCH their grocery budget and pantries. For instance, one week I decided to create multiple meals from a whole chicken that I prepared on a Sunday. I didn't allow myself to buy anything and to use only what I had in my pantry and fridge. From that personal challenge, I created 4 meals or by-products (that was turned into a meal) from that $6 whole chicken. It was during that time that I realized, that I am really committed to creating a culinary lifestyle that aligns with my personal mission of creating good food and good vibes, no matter the financial and/or personal situation.
K: What are your favorite quick and easy meals to make at home?
Chef Chakayla: Hmmm...this is a great question! My go-tos are definitely anything that includes pasta and anything that was previously made in my fridge (that is still good to make).
K: In honor of #SoulfulSunday, what are ways that you feed your soul?
Chef Chakayla: I feed my soul by taking time out for me and my family! In the very beginning of my entrepreneurship journey and honestly, my womanhood journey, I once believed that I had to LIVE IN LACK in order to GAIN ABUNDANCE. This makes not the least bit of sense. But I am currently learning to live by own thoughts and aspirations and not those of others. In order for me to grow, so does my thinking.
K: Describe your cooking process! Do you have any fun, crazy routines that you do before each meal?
Chef Chakayla: Haha, of course I do! I am blasting rap, hip-hop and 90s R&B when I cook. There is a whole lot of Ari Lennox, Nipsey Hussle, Silk and of course, 112. There is a lot of everything and some off the wall things like Little Dragon, quintessential Drake and a little Hot Girl Meg the Stallion. This is a must when I am cooking! It not only keeps me motivated, but it reminds me what needs to be done and where I should be focusing my attention.
K: Are there any chefs of today that inspire your cooking, and how does it manifest in your work?
Chef Chakayla: Oh for sure! I am currently STANNING for Marcus Samuelsson, Carla Hall and Kelis! Each and every one of them have their own different personalities, food styles and creative expression that is hidden in their food. This is the PERFECT time to be a black chef during this time of culinary accession. It is truly beautiful! On the one hand, I try not to duplicate anyone else's work. I try to stay true to who Chakayla is and manifest what Chakayla wants. My food is truly inspired by my mother's southern roots and my up NORTH upbringing.
K: Now we can't talk about passing the power plate without talking about THE power meal. Do you have any special dishes that are ONLY signature to you?
Chakayla: WOW! This is a very, very dope question! Thank you for this one. I can say right now, I may have two or three favorite meals that my tribe is loving: my home style chili, roasted chicken and a seafood paella I made for my very first Power Plate dinner, and honestly ... I haven't made it since, but my past guests are still talking about it to this day!
K: Being apart of the cooking world, what do you feel distinguishes a good chef from a GREAT chef, and where do you feel you fall in this category?
Chef Chakayla: Hmm ... well, let me make it clear, I am NOT a classically trained chef. I am simply, a SOUL CHEF. I cook with the true intent to NOURISH and not FEED my guests. My food is truly for the whole soul, the complete being. This is what I believe separates a good chef from a great chef. When you cook with positive intent and with the true focus to bring something to their lives, this is when your food becomes truly irresistible.
K: Are you working on any new projects that we can look forward to in the future with your brand? Spill the tea!
Chef Chakayla: OF COURSE! There are many moving parts at the moment, but I am happy to report that I am in the works of launching my 4th spyce, Aries, near the end of the summer! I am super excited for this one. I am also planning an immaculate dinner for 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina and that is the only thing that I can share about that. But, I am blessed! This is what I want to share lol, God is always GOOD.
K: In today's society, this is a huge time for entrepreneurs! Tell us more about your current job/jobs, and how did you get to where you are today in your career?
Chef Chakayla: One thing that I continue to pour into my tribe, success takes T I M E. Truly, nothing and no one is built overnight. It is so important that we use this time to PRODUCE what we envision, instead of wasting time telling ourselves what we cannot achieve. In order to properly take care of my family and to invest in my business, The Power Plate, I have a career as a personal banker. I sit in an office and converse with people from different walks of life and I enjoy helping them along their paths of financial wellness. Do I always love sitting in an office, when I'd rather explore? Of course not, but it is helping me create the life i desire. This is truly a divine time and I am so glad that I am finally ordering my steps and following through with my dreams and aspirations.
K: We absolutely LOVED having you! We wanted to end with, how can readers discover more about you and your work? :)
Chef Chakayla: First and foremost, thank you for providing such a dope platform for us QUEENS to shine! Readers can of course build with me on Instagram, @chakaylataylor and @thepowerplate. If you are interested in learning more about my spyces, please visit www.passthepowerplate.com
Thank you so much for joining us for #SoulfulSunday! As a writer and fellow entrepreneur, I love finding powerful women in the community pursuing their dreams, inspiring other women to kick ass in the world, and just staying true to themselves throughout their creative process! I love doing these #SoulfulSunday interviews to show other women that we are a force to be reckoned with, and can do anything that we put our minds to. There is enough room for all of us to succeed, and in order to help each other, we must support one another! I am truly honored to have each and every one of you as one of those powerhouses, and I can't wait to spread more love and light to all of you on my next segment! FEED YOUR SOUL. YOU DESERVE IT. Happy #SoulfulSunday!
Welcome to the launch of my new book blog! Thank you all soooo much for reading and I can't wait to hear your thoughts, ideas and comments! Enjoy! :)