As the temperature increased over the past weekend, it became even hotter in the kitchen as the award winning female chefs of New Orleans: Toya Boudy, Melissa Hinton, legendary Hip Hop icon Mia X, and television’s “Chopped” contestant Ashley Jonique, better known as “Let Dat Girl Cook!” put their wrist to work, while giving inspirations and insights on how they keep their food so spicy and soulful.

On Wednesday, June 28 at the 1st Annual Lady Chef Awards held at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, LA, these dynamic African-American women were honored and kept it real. They shared what means most to them while making their favorite foods in the kitchen.

Chefs Toya and Melissa spoke about those who influenced them to cook as young girls and different ingredients they like to use which compliment each of their flavorful cooking styles. Boudy, who is the youngest of three sisters, loves to indulge in Creole-influenced dishes such as old-fashioned New Orleans gumbo. She demonstrated so by showing how to make her chocolate rue which set taste buds on fire with her finished product. She told the crowd how important it is to be patient while cooking rather than rushing through each step. 

Boudy has been featured on Gus Grocery Games, TLC, and the Food Network. She recently won America’s Next Best Cook on the Hallmark Home and Family Channel.

Chef Melissa Hinton, who also produces tasty Creole creations, satisfied every appetite and blew the audience away by cooking a beautiful shrimp creole spread which left every guest smacking and speechless. She opened up by gathering all the seasonings she needed and sauteeing about a cup of white onions to make sure the dish came out just right. By putting her wrist to work, she explained, it’s important to always make sure to put your heart into your pot each and every time, that way your guests won’t only feel full but loved at the same time.

New Orleans Hip-hop icon Mia X opened up about her struggle dealing with Cancer and how cooking gave her such relief during one of the most painful periods of her life. She relies on the stock that her grandmother gave her as a child, and how raw and genuine her grandmother always was to her. In sharing this piece of herself, Mia spoke on the healing which being in the kitchen brings and explained that it is more than just putting utensils together. Not just a cook but also a bit of a motivational speaker, Mia told the audience, “each time you create you give an extension of you. Know your strengths. Never be afraid to be yourself.”  Later that evening, she was acknowledged as being a “chef of life” and a sweet, genuine, caring soul who continues to marry her love of cooking with her passion for the betterment of women’s healthcare. “Eating tasty yet healthy foods can promote healing for the body so we as women can continue to live and inspire,” she said.

Songwriter PJ Morton with Leslie Brown of Power 102.9

Our young queen Ashley Jonique, was deemed as the lady “who got next”. She also was a fierce contestant on the hit TV series “Chopped”.  She told the audience she was a vibrant eager soul, willing to perfect her craft in the kitchen. She shared her timeless adventures growing up of how she would “make everything with rice and gravy”. After hearing the cries of her family of wanting something different for dinner, she began to explore the avenues of her talents with whatever recipes she gained and all she purchased from the grocery store to better herself. Today as a 33-year old mom with many years of burnin’ in the kitchen, and a whole lotta deliciousness to show for it, being a special guest at the 1st Annual Lady Chef Awards, and being featured as a contestant on one of the hottest channels for chefs ,she is continuously making her mark as a force to be reckoned with.

The conversation took a more intimate turn as the women of the hour delved into their humble beginnings and reminded us that cooking is not just something you do, it’s a ministry and form of healing that comes from the soul. The women went down memory lane as they reminisced of the first dishes they made and the ones who taught them the trade. In a field where black chefs are underrepresented at top level positions and in popular restaurants, these women are continuous trailblazers and exemplify the true meaning of “Black Girl Magic”!

The event was sponsored by the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, The Rellativity Group, and the ONYX Channel. Part of the proceeds will be used to support Women’s Health and Education. For more information on how to #whipthatwrist or get #lostinthesauce, visit @cheftoya (instagram), @jaleesamcdowell (instagram), @chefmelissahinton (instagram and facebook), and @letdatgirlcook.

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1st Annual Lady Of Chef Awards

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