Chef Vonda McPherson & Her Culinary Virtuoso—How It All Began
Vonda McPherson, owner of Vonda K's Catering & Events in Newark, New Jersey, was (is) a natural and fanciful cook.
In fact, while still working as a Sales Executive and Medical Supplier in the late 90’s for Cardio Thoracic Surgeons, she would bake simple dishes upon request from co-workers and even family members.
It wasn’t until she left the fruitful position in 1998 that McPherson took her creative and artsy expression of cooking more seriously although she didn’t possess a degree in that specific field.
Either you got the goods (natural talent) or you don’t.
Sometimes, all it takes is a little gusto, faith, an ounce of effort, and you can create magic from the smallest pinch of a muster seed.
McPherson left her job, which wasn’t a death sentence. She was thinking futuristically, and with a strong support system like her father, in addition to a hefty savings account, she could hit the ground running, proclaiming success over the newest venture.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take long before the newfangled entrepreneur was able to do the impossible. During the same calendar year, she opened “Shacks BBQ,” an antiquated restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
McPherson said that her dad was the biggest inspiration and help when opening the storefront because he was a chef as well. She jokes about them having friendly competition when it came to matters of the heart, and for most people, that happens to be food.
Chef McPherson said that he takes food preparation to another other level. “Yeah, he pulls out the whole smoker and cooks his BBQ”, she laughs.
Vonda McPherson is truly a Daddy's Little Girl.
Quite open and candied about the situation, she admits that the exodus from her former position was divine intervention, which God whispered courage into her ear, interceding on her behalf so that she could fulfill her passion for cookery.
There was no second guessing.
Rests assured, the transition from being in the hustle and bustle of corporate America wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
While adjusting to her new life, McPherson actually moved in with her parents for the first year so she could plan and achieve, before opening “Shacks BBQ,”
She encourages entrepreneurs to do just that when getting their lives together, “Move in with your parents if you have to,” she says, “because it will take help from family and friends to keep life grounded.”
Chef McPherson believes that while the idea of starting a business sounds good, be patient, because it could take up to at least four years before you start seeing the rewards from your hard and earnest labor.
Speaking of being grounded in her position, Shacks BBQ sat in the Urban parts of New Jersey.
Instead of it being just a place for the good old-fashioned barbecue and country cooking, McPherson introduced a new type of exquisite fodder with her dishes. She emphasized the need to eat healthier within the community by adding vegan dishes, and fresh salad recipes.
But, Chef McPherson says she still throws down when it comes to the healthy and soulful fares like neck bones and collards.
“Not everyone knows how to make collard greens. You need to add a little oil in the water too, so that the leaves are nice and shiny,” she remarked.
McPherson takes the old ingredients and adds her own pop of flavor to the feast.
It’s documented that her famous black-eyed pea dip (humus texture), actually derived from overcooking beans accidentally, which is now a signature dish from her staple.
It’s also said that the charming restaurant was cozy like the dining area of a bed and breakfast, but with photos of the All-Negro Baseball League, colorful paintings, and celebrated musicians decorating the wall.
Unbeknownst to visitors, Shacks BBQ was a tiny museum speckled with black culture.
She kept the place familiar from the eccentric perspective of history.
Through the years, the acclaimed chef felt that she needed to expand, becoming more diligent with her high-demand service, so she restructured the requirements for the sit-in restaurant and opened Vonda K’s Catering & Events.
The prestigious company barreled with success, and because of Chef McPherson's transparency, work ethic, in addition to her strong integrity, she was able to partner with the community Housing Authority, and the local colleges in Newark.
Amazingly, McPherson was afforded the delightful opportunity to cater for the 2014 Super Bowl, and VIP Tailgate Party on Super Bowl Sunday.
This is a major accomplishment, but McPherson is so modest about her business affairs that she prefers not to boast, as she works behind the scenes to provide scrumptious cuisines for her clients, locally and around the world.
If she doesn’t want to gloat, no problem! We’ll do it for her!
Kudos to you Chef McPherson!
Your exemplary nature is what sets you apart from those that are idle in their positions and it identifies you with the many that choose to run forward, breaking barriers, and earning their keep within the business of living a practical, and yet, majestic life worthy of being talked about.
Kudos to you, Chef Vonda McPherson!
The things that she doesn’t talk about—Vonda McPherson was featured on the Food Network in 2015, with Sherry Sheppard, and her segment of “Holy and Hungry."
McPherson was also featured as a celebrity chef at the WBLS Circle of Sisters 2016, in addition to many other outlets.
In closing, we can't stress our final thoughts enough: Job well done, Chef Vonda McPherson!
We are rooting for your continued success!
If you want to learn more about the brilliant and business savvy chef, please visit: www.Vondamcphersonetc.com