In our latest chef profile, we sit down with Chef Roshara Sanders, founder of Alkhemy Food Group and ambassador for Habitat for Humanity, to ask her four questions about how she became a chef and her food philosophy.
1. CHEF ROSHARA: WHAT ROLE DID FOOD PLAY IN YOUR LIFE GROWING UP?
Food has always been in my life since I was a little girl. My mother has been in the food service industry for about 25 years now. My mother also held two or three culinary arts jobs at one time being a single parent and food became the way I learned how to survive. She would even at times bring me to work when it was difficult to find someone to look after me. I was also exposed to culinary at my vocational high school. I was skilled at a very young age and progressed on in high school easily. My culinary teachers were both Culinary Institute of America and Johnson and Whales Alumni so I was fortunate to be exposed to talented chefs at an early age.
2. DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A CHEF?
Like any child, I toyed with the idea of becoming a veterinarian, lawyer, doctor, and several other professions, but culinary was just one of those things I not only loved doing, I was good at it as well. After my first year in vocational high school I knew (age 14) I would become one of the greatest chefs of all time one day. Once I made up my mind to make this dream of mine a reality I began to immerse myself in reading and educating my mind on my field. I decided that I wanted to further my education and prepared myself to attend a culinary arts school.
3. WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON FOOD?
Food is life and without it our world cannot flourish and thrive. I believe that everyone in the agriculture, aquaculture and other sectors of the food and beverage industry should be the guardians of the food world around us. I believe that it is our responsibility to respect the plants and animals we consume by implementing safe, respectable, humane food practices and procedures. I believe all chefs are food scientists and have the ability to lead and educate the world, while creating memorable food experiences and flavors. Food should also nourish the mind and body; through that we can also inspire the heart and soul.
4. HOW DOES THAT COME TO LIFE IN YOUR COOKING?
I cook with LOVE and passion. Everything I do I try and create a great food experience by introducing great flavors and art through plating. I also am very into farm-to-table and try to be very environmentally aware in all that I do. I am striving to become a food activist so that I can continue to educate myself and the people around me. I use products and build relationships with brands and companies who have the same values as myself. I remind myself every day that what I do can at the simplest brighten up someone’s day.
A RECIPE FROM Chef Roshara: Yam biscuits, deep fried cinnamon chicken & mango chutney
Makes nine biscuits.
- ¾ cup of cooked mashed yams
- ½ cup buttermilk, as needed
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (with butter, oil or cooking spray).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato and 1/3 buttermilk. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with your hands, a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sweet potato mixture and fold gently to combine. Add the remaining milk a little at a time until all the flour is moistened. The amount of milk you will need will depend on the moisture of the sweet potato.
- Sprinkle a small handful of flour on a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead lightly 2 to 3 times with the palm of your hand until the mixture comes together. Pat the dough out into a 1/2 -inch-thick round.
- Using a 2 ½-inch-round biscuit cutter, cut the dough into biscuits. Gently re-roll the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake until light golden brown and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve these fluffy biscuits warm or at room temperature.
Deep fried cinnamon chicken
Makes 10 servings.
- 5oz boneless chicken breast (3 lbs.)
- ½-qt buttermilk
- 3 Tbsp. salt
- 3 Tbsp. pepper
- 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. poultry seasoning.
- Cut chicken into equal 2oz portions.
- Soak chicken in buttermilk and all spices in a bowl and let marinate at least 2 hours.
- Set up standard breading station (flour, egg, breadcrumbs).
- Heat frying pan to medium heat and cover bottom with canola oil.
- Fry chicken until 165 degrees (extra crispy).
Serve with mango chutney and yam biscuits.
Makes 15 servings.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 6 cups mangos (4 to 5), peeled and cut into ¾ inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup ginger, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, whole
- ¼ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (hot).
- Combine sugar and vinegar in a 6-quart pot; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until syrupy and slightly thickened, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir occasionally during cooling.