Straight out of Chicago’s southside, Chef Lovely is owning her culinary prowess on television and taking social media by storm. She has one of the largest followings via Tik Tok and Instagram of any professional/celebrity Black female chef. Her resume boasts over a decade of experience in the culinary industry. Selected as an ambassador for former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, Chef Lovely says it was one of her career highlights. Chef Lovely currently lives in L.A. and is the owner and executive chef of Lovely Eats. Last November, she became the host of two shows, Lovely Bites by Chef Lovely on the new Discovery+ Network and Lovely Bites on Oprah Winfrey’s Network (OWN) Discovery+. A daughter of the Windy City, Lovely was enthusiastic about chatting with the Defender.
Tell us about your background, your education, and how this journey began.
I grew up on the southside of Chicago and attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where I received three culinary degrees. My time at the Art Institute exposed me to a whole new world. At the Art Institute, I met people from all over the globe, tried different foods, and enjoyed Chicago’s rich history and culture. The southside of Chicago raised me, and Downtown Chicago sharpened me.
Who sparked your love for cooking?
My love for cooking came from my mom, who is the ultimate chef. I love cooking with her. She gave me my culinary foundation. She taught me how to correct mistakes in the kitchen, stay calm under pressure, and maximize humble ingredients. Since I was a little girl, the only thing I associated with food is family and love. Some of my favorite memories and moments are of my family sitting down eating dinner together. Now, as a professional chef, I love to create those same kinds of moments and memories through my food. I love to show people that cooking can be fun, easy, and elegant. It is such a blessing and mind-blowing that people invite me into their homes and make me a part of the memories made at their dinner table.
Was your culinary journey met with adversity?
Yes. I learned very quickly and early on that the culinary arts industry was White and male-dominated. There were very few publicized Black female chefs at the forefront in the industry. I knew that being good was not good enough. I had to be great. I had to be more; more educated, more impressive, more everything. I wanted to seize every opportunity to advance my career and hopefully leave the door open for other aspiring black female chefs and entrepreneurs.
What was the process like getting your own T.V. show?
It was a culmination of years of hard work, establishing my brand, never giving up, and believing in myself. I also had to be innovative and create exciting content while consistently delivering an elevated food experience. I spent the last nine years in L.A. building my business, Lovely Eats, and establishing my brand as Chef Lovely. When I first got to L.A. I was the Culinary Specialist at Bloomingdales. While there, I executed live cooking demonstrations and trained other culinary specialists across the country. I built a great client network from my work there, including professional athletes, actors, musicians, and businesses. My live cooking demonstrations prepared me for T.V. and social media. Last year (2020), I started working with a production company on different culinary show concepts, and they pitched the show, now known as Lovely Bites, to the OWN Network.
What do you say to the woman who is continually facing adversity and is ready to say, “I’m done”?
I’ve had those moments and thought to myself, ‘What else can I do? Am I good enough? Am I supposed to be doing this?’ Everyone’s journey is going to look different. It is not going to happen for me the way it did for others. My advice is to: Be Prepared because it will happen; it may not happen the way you think it will, but it will happen. Patience is key! Take me, for example, I have worked long and hard for years, and yet, I secured my T.V. show DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. I could have never predicted the timing, but I was ready for this moment. I put in the work and prepared myself for that exact moment, an opportunity to represent myself, my family, my friends, Oprah (yes, Oprah!), and everyone who dreams of being on T.V. in the culinary industry.
What is next for Chef Lovely?
This month, I am launching my live food-talk show on Instagram called, Live with Lovely. I am inviting special guests to join me as we chat and cook over food and drinks. I am excited about this new venture and look forward to everyone tuning in, especially my Chi-town peeps. It is premiering on February 6th at 5 pm PST/8 pm EST @cheflovely on Instagram.
Check out Lovely’s website at www.cheflovely.com. Stay connected with Chef Lovely on social media: Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok @cheflovely.