It all started with a Facebook post from my mother with a recipe for Southern Tea Cakes, requesting that someone make them for her (lol). Throughout my time at Baylor, I shifted away from the meal plans to save money and develop a prowess in the kitchen, as home cooked meals were usually reserved for Sundays from my Grandmother. (Fun fact, her favorite color was green, and while she may not have been in the military like my grandfather, we definitely lost a spiritual soldier. So the purple and green in the logo is a commemoration of her)!
Well, as an upcoming graduate (2013), I decided that would be my graduation present to her (it seemed like a fair exchange since she got me my dream car after my first one broke down on my way to work one day - cookies for a car haha)! This snowballed into my entire family wanting tea cakes every time they saw me, and then my coworkers at Young Elementary when I was a 4th grade tutor there. So much so, the head of the cafeteria (Ms. Johnson at the time) suggested that I start a business, and that she HAD TO HAVE my tea cakes for her wedding! Who, little ol me?!
Fast forward, I moved to Fort Worth to gain some life experience, and ultimately decided after working 3 jobs and still falling behind on responsibilities that I would rather work for myself than to overwork for others. CooKeith Vegan Sweets was born! Formerly known as Ms. Johnson (I know, it's terrible that I don't know her name change...) followed up with her newly scheduled wedding date after a year or so, and I made my first sale (about 5 dozen tea cakes). The only issue was, around December this same year (2016, the year after I wrote in my journal "I think I'd rather be a chef") was when I did a complete 180, dropped everything I knew about food, and relearned food as a 100% vegan. Ethically, I could not serve her the tea cakes she originally had. Bright side? She didn't notice the difference!
[In case you were wondering, my transition REALLY started in 2014 unconsciously, dropping dairy and only eating chicken and turkey, fish occasionally. Once I met a vegan and learned, it took 6 months to prepare my mind to commit! Hence our service is geared to make the first 3 months of the transition easier. Since I completely reset what I knew about food, I skipped over the processed "junk food" vegan stage as I shifted towards counting chemicals (never calories, unless body goals). Which, I understand not everyone is as extreme as me (again, with the grace). I just hope that people don't get stuck there].
I amped up my first trial business and quickly realized I had a lot to learn about operating a food business. I absolutely loved how some of my friends and love ones immediately jumped at the opportunity to support my business! (My food has already reached New York, thanks Katie)! At the same time, I was cooking maybe 90% or more of my meals before I learned how to navigate restaurant menus to ensure I wasn't eating animal products. Then, I was introduced to Spiral Diner by the Battle Family [in the video that may have brought you here (and is also featured on the homepage)], the first Vegan Restaurant I've ever been to --> CooKeith expanded from about 5 different plant-based cookies, to about 20 different whole foods plant-based dishes. I rapped in my song "independence : a stranger thing," "...since the first time I ate at Spiral, knew I could top it, and you can't stop it!" and I haven't looked back since.
2016-2017 school year, I was playing it safe out of apparent necessity and decided to continue my journey in the field of education where I became a 7th Grade Writing/ELA teacher. It was a great experience that taught me a lot about myself, including practice what you preach (and how to deal with people who have no conception of a lifestyle without eating meat, which taught me grace). I would have students write every single day, whether it be about their emotional life, school life, home life, anything. I would also have them think about goal setting, and as a teacher, my job was to model. Well, it became abundantly clear to everyone that my 5 year plan changed, to be a chef and have a food truck by 2023 (the year those students will graduate from High School). I decided to start drinking my own organic cane sugar sweetened Kool-Aid (with no artificial colors or flavors) of believing in myself, and took the leap into full-time entrepreneurship to learn everything I could about business and running a successful food enterprise.
August 2018 and I am back in Houston, doing just that. By February, I had my business plan ready and registered the LLC (Plant-Based Moves, LLC), April opened the business account, had a few test clients for meal prep, then started to do markets in August 2019 to get my name out there. This was it, I realized I was living my dream. Covid-19 didn't come as much of a shock, as I was already planning to pivot from being a market vendor into more specialized service and curate my own events. It has taken some time to figure out how to integrate my talents without being too scattered in my offerings. Sure, the entire restaurant industry was forced to do what I came out of the gate doing, delivery only. However, this only further motivated me to set myself apart as a quality over quantity personal service with flavors that border nostalgia using innovative formats.
TLDR: I am a beacon of change that has put the entire food world on notice. People over profits, peace over harm, nature over nurture. We must get back to our true purpose as humans, to live in harmony with nature just as the animals many vegans are fighting to protect. We have our work cut-out for us, but we are definitely headed in the right direction!
Remember, "Leave everything better than you found it!" - The Kitchen Ninja Way