Heartfelt Cooking with Aaron Lee
Aaron Lee is a young chef on a mission to bring healthy food back to the Black communities he loves through his new business Heartfelt Catering. As he says, he cooks with Soul, but not just Soul Food. This young Black chef speaks with excitement about his mission to use cooking to address diet related health issues in the black community, diseases which are the number one cause of death, and disproportionately higher for African-Americans. Through his catering business, Aaron tries to undo the notion that Soul Food only means one thing, and expand the range of foods people in his community see as theirs and as delicious.
Aaron shares his journey into food, from his start peeling shrimp for his dad’s catering business in Virginia, to working his way up from dishwasher to sous chef at Yale University dining. He dishes on the lucky accident that got him started catering a fun mix of soul food and vegan dishes for private parties in CT and cutting edge fashion shows in Brooklyn.
We talk and laugh about the allure of eggplant and vegan crab cabs, and dig in on race dynamics in institutional kitchens and the stereotypes Aaron confronts as a Black chef. We also touch on some of the historical and systemic reasons healthy food is hard to get in many Black communities, and that diet change is also social justice work. Aaron keeps it real and brings it all with passion and love, so fitting for the man running Heartfelt catering.
Also, check out the clothing line Aaron supports (in the hat pictured below), Kinfolk Klothing, for people of Afrikan decent.