Practically raised on a boat in sunny Florida, as her step-father would take her fishing Monday-Friday, Chef Brandi Perkins can filet a fish like no other--and she’ll challenge you to it!
Chef Brandi first fell in love with food back when her mother would take her to special meat markets in Florida as a child. “I would just get lost and mesmerized with all the different sorts of exotic meats,” says Brandi. Her mother encouraged her liking by purchasing some of the meats that Brandi would choose--such as garlic ham.
As a child Chef Brandi loved to play around with food at home, whipping up the best meals that she knew how and just having fun with everything. Her bright personality allowed her to create freely and openly which embedded her passion for cooking even more.
Throughout Brandi’s adult life she played around with other career options as well. She was in retail for 13 years and even a correctional officer for a short period of time right out of high school. However either field proved to be a fit for Brandi and she quickly became bored and uninterested--it was time for a drastic change and find a path that she enjoyed.
Fully committed and determined Chef Brandi made the ultimate decision to fund her culinary career by taking out student loans and enrolling in culinary school--in hopes to ignite the flame that was once there for cooking.
Once graduating from culinary school Chef Brandi finally felt worth towards something she really cared about and had a passion for. In 2013 Chef Brandi joined College Chefs and has been rocking it out ever since for the ladies of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Florida State University.
Q: What do you love most about cooking?
A: I love food. I love the color, the smell, and the textures. I like the fact that you can take something so simple and make it so extravagant and mold it however you want. I love the industry and how fast paced it is. All of the action is such a thrill.
Q: What sorts of food do you like feeding your son?
A: My son is the only five year old that I know that will eat just about anything or at least he’s the only five years old that I know that will eat swordfish and be totally fine with it. We love to BBQ, we are big chicken eaters, seafood, and veggies. We make squash salads, just anything fun with food.
Q: How are your baking skills?
A: I am the cookie queen. I love making cookies and people love my cookies. One time my son's T-ball tournament got cancelled because of the rain and I had parents calling me wondering where the cookies were, and of course I had not made any due to there not being a game, but my cookies are so good that the parents still expected me to have cookies. Around the holidays I make in the upwards to 300 cookies and pass them out to family and friends, it’s a special treat for everyone I love.
Q: What’s your favorite cookie to make?
A: Chocolate chip oatmeal and just a regular chocolate chip, I use dark, semi-sweet, and white chocolate in my cookies. But I do all cookies, I like to make German chocolate cookies, lemon thyme with blackberry jam.
Q: What’s your favorite food memory?
A: Going to my grandmother's house this summer probably falls into this category. I went to her house and made this linguine with fresh sauce, clams, and noodles--plus I made an apple pie. My grandmother made a comment while we were eating, she said “I’ve always wanted to go to a restaurant where they actually put out food the way it should taste and I didn’t even have to go to a restaurant for that, because this is one of the best meals I’ve ever had”. Hearing that from her was a huge compliment seeing how she had never approved of my career change as a chef... until that day.
Q: What’s not to approve of the culinary industry?
A: The typical concern for a female chef is that the industry is male dominated field and overall my family felt as though it’s too much an unpredictable job choice. You know it’s hard enough for a male to get a job as a line cook and here you have this really “perky” blonde haired woman coming into the kitchen. My family was just worried that I would not be able to stay with it and make a career out of it, but...here I am several years later making a career out of it!
Q: What other sort of jobs did you have outside of cooking?
A: I was actually a correctional officer before. I got into that through a program my mother ran which placed women in nontraditional jobs and gave them funding for it, so when it was my time to graduated high school I told my mother that I was not ready to go off to a four year university so she handed me these brochures and told me I could pick any of these jobs—which ran for 6 months. Out of all the opportunities my mother offered, I choose to be a correctional officer for a jail in South Beach Florida at a male prison.
Q: How was that experience working as a female correctional officer in South Beach housing males?
A: Don’t let this blonde hair fool you, I have my rugged side just as well as my sweet light spoken side. I understood my position and how I was first perceived by people, but I was tough and I stuck to my guns, I didn’t take any slack from the inmates and they grew to respect me.
Q: What sort of cuisine are you cooking for the sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma?
A: Just recently I introduced a mac & cheese bar, which had several different variations of mac & cheese such as crab and lobster, pulled pork, and butternut squash. It was something different I decided to introduce them to because for the most part they enjoy simple meals, so this was kind of a treat for them.
Currently Chef Brandi is kicking back on vacation soaking-up the summer vibes with her son and will return back to College Chefs for the Fall 2015 semester!