Align Magazine got a chance to catch up with Millennial Chef, Jahnesta, to talk about his passions for food and cooking and his visions for his future. Here is what he had to say….
So Chef Shaiheem, tell our readers a little bit about yourself: My name is Jahnesta Horney but I go by Chef Shaiheem. I am 26 years old, originally from Gulfport, Mississippi but I was raised here in Atlanta, Georgia by my grandmother Shirley Bolton. I graduated from Braddy Preparatory Academy as the Valedictorian of my class and soon after attended Clark Atlanta University where I studied Philosophy. I currently work for Zillow Closing Services in Dunwoody as a Title Search Coordinator but I have been cooking professionally since I was 17 years old. My passions outside of cooking are singing, dancing, and community service. I am also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. Cooking has always been what makes me happy because I love to pour my life experiences into my food and give those who eat my food an experience rather than just a meal.
Cool stuff! Now, tell us about your organization and your creative pursuits? The Guilty Plate Company began in 2016 at a point in my life where I was severely overweight and unhappy. My closest friend and fraternity brother, Sean Perry, asked why I love to cook so much but I never thought to go into business for myself. I began simply by offering to prepare meal prep meals for people in the office when I worked at State Farm. Things really just took off from there! My goal is to be a published cookbook author and the owner of several restaurants offering recipes that I learned from my grandmother with my personal nuanced twist.
Has your journey been an easy one so far? My journey has not been an easy one. In the beginning, I wrestled with my desire to quit my 9-5 job and pursue my passions full time but the fear of financial instability in Atlanta held me back. I also did not have my own transportation when I first started which cut me off from a long list of clientele because I could not deliver. Since then, I have gained a different perspective on the situation and learned to trust Gods timing. I have been blessed to have employment that allows me the time and financial means to pour into my creative passions and my business. I know that when the time is right things will blow up and stay afloat because I trusted God’s judgement and did not rush.
Jahnesta, tell us one thing we should know about you and your business? The thing I want everyone to know about The Guilty Plate Company is that I have never been concerned about being famous, I truly believe that I have something special in store for anyone who tries my food. I believe I was placed on this Earth to “Spread Light Through Food” and I just want everyone to experience the love I have for my craft. Love I intend to share by feeding others.
Who are some of your biggest competitors at the moment? I only feel that I am in competition with myself. For clarification, I don’t mean that to say I am above anyone but rather I am not concerned with being above anyone else. I feel that true superiority comes from conquering one’s former self. I am always learning and growing as a Chef each and everyday and I do it not just for my betterment but for the betterment of the overall experience of my clients.
What has been your fondest moment in your career thus far? My fondest experience thus far will always be the first event I ever catered with an official invoice. It made me feel “Official Official” as people like to say these days. It happened during a time when I was having doubts about my brand and my capabilities. Since then I have been on fire like never before! I won’t say that 2020 is going to be my year because I believe and trust God that every year is going to be my year.
Looking into the future, where do you see yourself in 5-10 years from now? 5-10 years from now I would love to be a successful restaurant owner, living in a beautiful home, and just happy to be working for myself and thriving. In 5-10 years I see myself being exactly in the place that God wants me to be!
Can you name the most influential person in your life thus far? LaSella Hall is the most influential person in my life because when I was younger, especially during my senior in high school, I didn’t believe I could go to college and accomplish things because my family could not afford it. He used to tell me that “People can have the p*ss on the floor, but I want the Picasso on the wall”. It is because he decided to take a chance on me and paid my school fees, that I was able to attend college and be introduced to the many experiences that have culminated themselves into the man I am today. I am so grateful for that.
“My goal is to be a published cookbook author and the owner of several restaurants offering recipes that I learned from my grandmother with my personal nuanced twist.”Jahnesta Horney
Describe yourself as a child? As a child, I was extremely quiet and reserved. I just wanted to be in the house with my video games and no one else. Things have changed tremendously since then, but I still love and appreciate my personal time and solitude.
Is the city of Atlanta good for your business goals? I am a person who has always been driven to make the most of my situation wherever and whenever I have to be, so I do believe that the city Is great for what I aspire to do but I will be honest in saying that I don’t see myself settling down here permanently!
What do you want people to remember about you when you’re gone? I want people to remember my heart for other people. I want people to know that I lived and fought through my fear, through discrimination, through issues with self-acceptance and self-love and that I conquered it all in the end.
Give one piece of advice that you can share with fellow Millennials I would say take your time , building your brand and focus on what separates you from the fold , believe in yourself even in times its feels no one else does , and make peace with being your biggest cheerleader! Lastly, don’t be afraid to go through struggles because hotter fire makes purer Gold !