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Rising Stars: Meet Bruce Herring

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bruce Herring.

Bruce, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My journey to becoming a chef is by no measure typical. I’ve always had a love for preparing quality food for people and seeing them enjoy it. As a teenager and in college, I worked fast-food jobs. It was just something about taking time to make quality food and providing customer service that stuck out. Those jobs were far from easy but being able to take pride in making something that people enjoyed sparked something in me.

Once I graduated from college, I moved to New Orleans to begin my career in education. Being a single broke teacher, I quickly realized that I couldn’t afford to eat out everyday and used the raw skills that I gained from working in fast food to start cooking for myself. Luckily, I was in the food capital of the world so I was able to get so many ideas and tips from people I interacted with on a daily basis. I learned so much from my time there and owe much of what I know to the people and restaurants that gave me inspiration.

After getting married to my then fiance, we moved to Alexandria, VA and I continued my career in education. My wife and I decided that I would take on doing the cooking in the household (she always told everyone that she would marry a chef). Soon after, our friends and co-workers would notice the meals that I would prepare for us and my wife suggested that I start cooking for people. Being able to cook quality food for multiple and using the skills and techniques I learned along the way piqued my interest to become a chef.

Currently, I work as a full-time educator and a chef. It’s a delicate balance of managing time and being efficient – skills necessary for both field. I am passionate for education and cooking and definitely see overlap between the two.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
One of the biggest struggles is knowing your worth. I have definitely undercharged or undervalued my own product. I had to learn the hard way that it’s okay to hear “no” because someone can’t afford you. It’s not an indication that I need to change my price – it’s more so confirmation that I need prove to people that my product is worth it.

The second biggest struggle is managing time. Being a chef, educator, husband, and father requires precise time management. In one moment, you are receiving an order and planning the supplies and groceries you’ll need for it and the next, you’re taking your kid to swim lessons. This has taught me how to prioritize and organize. You can’t say “yes” to everyone and everything and nothing can take priority over your family.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a chef that provided meal prep services, private dining, cooking classes, and catering. I specialize in southern cuisine, soul food, and healthy eating options. I am known for my southern dishes (i.e. shrimp an grits, baked mac n cheese, fried chicken).

I am most proud of being able to catering lunch for protesters during the 2020 March on Washington and for poll workers during the 2020 elections. It felt good to know that I can look back on history know that I had a small impact. What sets me apart from other chefs is that I love teaching people how to cook. With my virtual classes and TikTok videos, I hope to give people enough advice and wisdom to push them to find their inner chef. I’m not here to safeguard culinary secrets, but here to show people them.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
Most people are shocked to find out that I don’t have formal training from a culinary institute. I have strictly depended on others teaching me and seeking out knowledge. Being an educator, I have a natural thirst for knowledge and that has helped me to become a chef.

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Redeat Wona

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