Hi! My name is Emily and I am a 26 year old professionally trained plant-based chef from Texas. I am known for taking regular dishes and transforming them into creative yet simple vegan/vegetarian eats. At just 22, I was handpicked to compete on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. I competed with 18 other young professional chefs and finished as a top 7 finalist.
Cooking means more to me than just creating. I discovered my love of cooking through recovering from an eating disorder. I was a dancer before I was a chef. I loved the creative outlet that dance gave me until I experienced toxic coaching from my collegiate dance team during my sophomore year of college. Their negative influence on top of my own unrealistic expectations on my body image eventually led me to being diagnosed with Anorexia and Binge Eating Disorder. My feeling of hopelessness on my college dance team was channeled into control over food. For a long time, food was the enemy. Eventually I recognized that dance could no longer offer me the happiness it once did. It was time to recover and find my new identity. That summer, I ended up living with one of my friends who happened to be vegan. I would always observe the dishes she made in our little college apartment. The dishes were always so creative and seemed like a blast to make.
I began to get curious about vegan and vegetarian cooking so I decided to watch the documentary, "What The Health" on Netflix. The documentary explained that a plant-based lifestyle could offer so many health benefits. Watching the documentary was the first time in a long time that I was truly inspired by something. That next day, I decided to become a vegetarian. I quickly noticed my mental, physical, and spiritual health beginning to thrive. I channeled my creativity into cooking and eventually recovered both mentally and physically. Through plant-based cooking, I understood that food is something that can be used to heal instead of hurt. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a community health and wellness specialization, I attended The Natural Gourmet Institute NYC so I could professionally help others realize what I did in college. My continuing passion is to help others with their relationship with food and their bodies through cooking.
I have experience in restaurants, food media, recipe development, and instructing cooking classes. I recently developed a national product for the Texas company Nature’s Eats that can be purchased on Amazon, QVC, and at HEB. My most recent project for Nature’s Eats includes developing a new product with Run DMC legend, Darryl McDaniels.
I recently created a YouTube Series called "The Self-Help Chef". Me and my guests, both friends and experts in the health and wellness field, talk candidly and openly about everything health and wellness while cooking a plant-based dish. Some of the dishes we have cooked are Vegan Gnocchi with Creamy Vodka Sauce, Mini Vegan Hand Rolls, and Indian Curry with Homemade Curry Paste.
Throughout my career, I have been mentored in the restaurant industry by culinary experts such as Amanda Cohen, Executive Chef Owner of Dirt Candy and Iron Chef Canada, and Jason Dady, Executive chef of multiple restaurants in San Antonio and Chef on Iron Chef America. They have helped me gain a broad range of visions and skill sets, from which I have curated my own style and platform.
Recently, I have partnered with two amazing New York women. This May, we opened up NYC's first Vegan and Gluten-Free BBQ concept. Pure Grit BBQ believes that bbq should be for everyone. I am honored to be acting as Executive Chef Partner and Culinary Director of this new and exciting restaurant.
My dad is a huge inspiration for me and my cooking, even though he is the biggest meat eater you will ever meet. Ironically, he is one of the biggest supporters of my plant-based career. I also have an amazing mom, sister, and cat named Sugar (Suggie for short). During my free time, I love to exercise, grab drinks with friends, and watch RuPaul's Drag Race!