Today we’d like to introduce you to Tash Waller.
Hi Tash, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Hey Hey Everyone! I’m Natasha also known as Tash better known as Chef Preddie. One person with three names and three different personalities but all with the same vision: To become the BEST CHEF I can be and serve my community. I was born in Bladensburg, Maryland, a town in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Growing up, I would come home from school to watch Rachael Ray whip up delicious and interesting meals in under 30 minutes. She would be on my screen smiling, mis en place ready, and an energetic attitude that caught all of the viewers’ attention. I wanted to be like her. So, I did just that. I would go into my grandmother’s kitchen and pretend. Smiling at my microwave as my producer counted down 3-2-1. Mis en place ready (pan, water, North Carolina pink hot dogs, bushs baked beans), I was ready to share this gourmet meal. I was in the 1st grade, lol. Bladensburg High School is where I started my official cooking journey. From Basic Food & Nutrition to being accepted into the Culinary Arts program my junior year, to competing junior and senior year in the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), to winning a Full tuition scholarship to study Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts. Following high school, I moved to New Rochelle, where I studied for 3 years at the NEW Culinary Institute of NEW YORK formally known as Monroe College Culinary Arts Program! This experience was the jumpstart to my current career. While in school, I studied abroad for three months in Italy. This is where I gained my knowledge, skill, and love for fresh and authentic Italian food/culture.
In 2016, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management and an Associate’s in Culinary Arts. I moved back to Maryland and started working at two illustrious hotels in Prince Georges County. I was a line cook during the day at Marcus Samuelsson Restaurant located in MGM National Harbor and a line cook at night at Gaylord National Harbor. The experience was great. Due to covid, I lost my job at the Gaylord and made the decision to become a FULL-TIME Entrepreneur.
Currently today, I am the Founder and CEO of PreddieCooks, LLC: PlatesbyPreddieCatering, PlannedbyPreddieEvents, and PreddiesPicnics. Our goal is to create Preddie’memorable experiences through food and events.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A smooth road? As a chef or entrepreneur, because let me tell you, NEITHER was easy. Neither happened overnight. As said before I already knew I wanted to go into the Food and Beverage Industry by the time I was in 9th grade. My first job was working at Sixflags. I loved working for the company. However, the same obstacle that I faced here started showing up later in my career, and eventually it led to my Great Depression. At Sixflags, my worst obstacle was being harassed. PHYSICALLY. I can remember the weeks leading up to my termination. See Sixflags had a policy where you couldn’t have ‘interlocked” hair so anything that looked like “locs, dreads,” was not accepted. I had Nubian twist and they assumed it was locs and pretty much said I couldn’t work. Thank GOD for the Crown Law today! Fast forward to one day at work, when I had to wear a wig to cover my hair. My supervisor and I got into an altercation. He ended up snatching my wig off my head mid-shift. Feeling disrespected I left him and left my job site. Went to HR. A few days later I was terminated for tweeting about the company f*cked up laws and nothing was done about a supervisor physically taking something off of me. That was the beginning of my harassment issues in Food & Beverage.
Harassment & Quid-pro-Quo! In college. It carried with me. I had a T.A. That I looked up too so much, still til this day. An excellent chef. He didn’t harass me but it was definitely a quid-pro-quo situation. I was in my third culinary class. Needed help with chicken fabrication. Reached out to my T.A for help. Long story short, I had sex in exchange for knowledge and ultimately didn’t gain anything but loss myself respect.
At the Gaylord, it CARRIED on again. I never knew exactly what kitchen culture consisted of. When I started working professionally at a hotel, I learned that as a female you could not be WEAK and had to always remain strong just to fit in. So, every time a derogatory comment was made or a physical action was made, I LAUGHED it off to show I was STRONG. I was the ONLY female at night for 3 years. Comments were made frequently and no disrespect but most of the harassment came from Asian coworkers. (Mind you we had Harassment training at work!)
I lost myself working in the industry. In 2018 I fell into a Great Depression. Graduated a year earlier than my friends. Was 23 years old in my career as a line cook. My ultimate goal after college was to open a restaurant HOWEVER proper planning was not made before I left New York so the Ways of the World came down on me
We’ve been impressed with PreddieCooks, LLC DBA: PlatesbyPreddieCatering and PlannedbyPreddieEvents, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
PreddieCooks, LLC pronounced like PRETTY is a Hospitality Company that offers Private chef services, Caterings, Events, and Pop-Up Shops. Due to Covid-19, we offer intimate picnics. We are based out of Bladensburg, Maryland but service the entire DMV to New York down to Florida. Yes, iTravel. We originally specialized in Southern and Italian food but as the years progressed, we have expanded our knowledge to creating menu items and recipes from all over the world. My greatest influence within my company is my grandmother’s southern cooking and my time abroad in Italy.
I am best known for my Italian Classic Lasagna as well as my Shrimp & Grits, Sweet Chili Glazed Salmon, and Salmon Fried Rice. These are always fan favorites. What sets me apart from other companies is my ability to create menus and events both based on themes and holidays. So as an event planner, I pride myself in hosting Event Pop Up shops such as my Black Business Brunch, Easter Extravaganza, Back2School Luau, Mother’s Day Brunch’Nic, Halloween Trunk&Treat, where I give myself the opportunity to highlight two of my businesses. I plan and execute all of my events as well as being the chef. I also give other small business owners the opportunity to highlight their brand at the pop-up shop part of my events. For any readers in the DMV looking to start a business or have a product that you would like highlighted during a pop-up event please reach out. I’m planning many events for 2022. Here at PreddieCooks, LLC we aim to create Preddie’memorable experiences. Follow us on our journey and Book with us today!
What are your plans for the future?
For 2022 my goal is to challenge myself as a chef. I love being a full-time Entrepreneur but sometimes even an entrepreneur have to go back and learn. A new restaurant is opening minutes from my house and I wanted to challenge myself to apply for a Sous Chef Position under a celebrity Chef. Learning from him will be pivotal to my growth as a chef and as A Chef in the DMV.
For The first quarter, I’m planning events and pop-ups to highlight Black Entrepreneurs during Black History Month as well as to celebrate beautiful couples with my Valentine’s Day packages. Follow us on IG @PreddieCooksLLC and subscribe to our email list
- Catering, Buffet Style Minimum: $1,000
- Catering, Plated Minimum $1,500
- Picnics start at $175 and go up to $500
- Pop-Up Shop Vendor Fees range from $60-$80
- Email: Preddie.Cooks@gmail.com
- Website: www.PreddieCooks.Co
- Instagram: Preddiecooksllc
- Facebook: ChefPreddie