Raising the bar on the way her customers experience food, is one of the top priorities for Chef Monee. Born in the Windy city known for its Chicago style hot dogs, hot pastrami, and deep dish pizza, it’s no wonder how her passion lies behind food. To Chef Monee her greatest challenge is to open a new door for her food seekers to experience food in a much needed brighter perspective. After attaining her culinary degree from Kendall College, Chef Monee, has been busy serving ridiculously good food and chasing her passion at the same time.
What do you know about passion?
While most 14 year olds were preoccupied with the normal weekend mall visits, hanging out with friends, and which hair gel to buy, Monee Smith was serving hot plates at the soup kitchen to the homeless residents on Chicago’s South side. It was in those packed soup kitchens where Monee gained a strong sense of what she wanted to be and how she was going to get there; through her love of cooking and giving back to her community. Being able to see the way people’s faces light up with happiness from her kind gesture, was enough encouragement that giving back through cooking was what she was destined to do.
Monee’s love of cooking goes back before working in soup kitchens as a teen, she knew she wanted to cook when she was 5. The holidays bring back early memories for Monee and when she first fell in love with cooking. Reminisces of the sweet and savory smells that would flow from her mother’s kitchen, sparked her interest the most! Luckily, her curiosity was accepted by her mother and grandmother as they would invite Monee into the kitchen, to teach her cooking techniques and family recipes. Eventually the training wheels were taken off as Monee grew/matured as a person and once she proved herself in her mother’s kitchen; it was then when her mother and grandmother became the assistants to Monee. Gradually Monee was the go to person for all meal needs; she cooked most of the family holiday and event meals, as well as dinners for certain family members. The combination of the joy it brought Monee to cook, the smiles she received, and her natural curiosity, inspired her to believe that cooking was more than a process but rather an experience that should be passionately driven.
The road to becoming the chef that she is today has not been an easy battle. With her strongest supporters in doubt of her decision to become a chef, Monee often felt as though she should have picked a different field to join. Despite the
uphill battles of getting the backing from her family, Monee graduated Kendall College with a culinary degree and started venturing out into the real chef world. Working in a number of different kitchens, Monee started seeing a growing trend among chefs, chefs that seemed burnt out and lacked passion. Speaking with Monee she described the lack of passion due to chefs working long hours, having to not only prepare food but to also handle the business side of juggling hiring, budgeting food cost, and planning for loads of people, the passion that once got them in kitchens, had long left. Although Monee has worked with many of chefs whose minds seemed to be clouded with the stresses of the business side of things, she prepared herself and recognized what she needed to avoid in order keeping her passion.
The ultimate goal
As young as she is, Chef Monee realizes that she has a while before really touching her dreams. She ultimately would like to mix her love of cooking combined with marketing background to become a kitchen consultant to struggling chefs. Monee would like to help struggling chefs find their lost passion and assist with rejuvenating their kitchens by forming ideas and business solutions to minimize stress and improve the customer experience through great food! In the meantime, Chef Monee is content and happy with her current position as head chef, preparing meals for her customers and getting to use her creativity through what she loves most, giving back and cooking. After speaking with Jared Bost and David Craig both of which are Monee's supervisors, they had this to say, "Monee Smith is a bright and talented young chef who has the ability to reach any dream she sets her mind to, her open ear and positive attitude will take her many places, we are very pleased to have her as our own."