It never surprises me at how women can dominate anything we set our minds to. Whether its corporate, or the artistic realm, we can do it all. This was the impression I had of our next chef. Now, if you never had her food, I must say you are missing out! My first taste of Chef Jack’s magic was during a Martell event called Gastronomics, hosted by none other than Keith Griffin himself. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you probably missed one of the best dining experiences I have ever been to in St. Louis. Not only was the ambiance perfect, but the food left you wanting more. Aside from the general conversations, her creole dishes were the talk of the night. From the appetizers to the desserts, her presentation was appeasing to the eye (thanks to her dynamic partner, Misha Sampson) and tantalizing to your palette. On that lovely night in January, I left full, satisfied and a newfound fan of Chef Jack and the Culture Movement.
How did you land in the culinary field?
I grew up with a single mother, and I am the second oldest of four girls. My falling into cooking started out as me trying to help my mother out around the house. With her being at work, I took on the role on being the mom in that dynamic. As I got older, people would always tell me I was a great cook and I should really consider doing it professionally. Initially, I went to school for something else, then found my way to culinary school.
What would you say you did to establish your name?
I would say it was my reputation. I wanted to maintain a great reputation and to me that’s what helped keep my name solid. I’m really a stickler for certain things especially my name, so I was never afraid to speak out regarding anything I felt would jeopardize my name and its good standing.
What’s the secret to keeping your recipes new and fresh, without repeating them?
Honestly, I’ve only been a chef for about seven years and I’ve been down quite a few roads with this career. I’ve held various titles in a variety of culinary settings and I would say it’s the industry that is keeping me fresh. Simply because there are new waves and trends that are always popping up, so to stay relevant, I need to ride the waves as they come.
As a female in this industry, how do you navigate through the male egos because I’m pretty sure there are quite a few?
Oh yes, it is surely a male dominated industry, and I navigate like Wonder Woman (laughs). I feel like I can’t be stopped, and I don’t let being a woman deter me from doing what I want to do. Typically, I am a lot harder on women I hire because I know what kind of industry we are in because I want them to be great and not let that factor hold them back. I want them to show the men that they can do whatever they want, and they don’t need them to hold their hands.
I’ve had your food before and I was more than impressed. However, there are some people who may have never sampled some food from Culture Movement STL. Tell us a little more about who you are?
Culture Movement came about after being a chef two times over and my partner being a former restaurant owner. We had a few conversations about what St. Louis needed as far as the food scene and that’s how Culture Movement was created. We analyzed what St. Louis needed regarding the food scene and that’s why we are so diverse, hence the name Culture Movement. With both of us having various keys to success, we just put our talents together. Misha is great at marketing as well as cooking. And I just happen to be a great chef (laughs). Originally, our idea was to just do pop ups here and there at our leisure, but then it ended up becoming a lot bigger (meal preps and catering) than what we set out to do.
For the rest of this interview, download our latest issue here.