Tanorria Askew: Nourished Body and Soul

If Tanorria Askew’s face looks familiar, it’s likely because you’ve seen her on TV—or maybe around Indy. Following a successful run on Gordon Ramsay’s show MasterChef, Askew’s established herself a near-celebrity chef and has made appearance both on and off local stations.

I say near-celebrity only because Askew insists she’s not an actual celebrity chef, but I think the distinction is up for debate. Regardless of celebrity status, though, Askew is crushing it as the owner of Tanorria’s Table (offering services for cooking and DEI consulting) and now as the author of a published cookbook, Staples +5.

From where I’m sitting, Askew’s living a life that I hardly have the nerve to fantasize. From talking to her, I get the sense that she’s felt the same way on occasion. Having started her professional life in the cooperate world, for a time Askew believed “that a culinary job is not a real job or not a valuable job.”

Even with all the success she’s experienced to date, she’ll tell you that, “I’m still working to get there. I tell people that I work my dream job. I literally just created this job. But I’m still building my dream bank account.”

Her business started as weekly meal prep and family-style freezer meals. Through an enormous amount of effort it has transformed into a personal chef operation where she comes to your home to create a restaurant experience for special events and parties.

“As an entrepreneur, you tend to say yes to everything, but you’ve got to figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. And I learned early on that while I loved my clients, the wear and tear on my body—paired with dreading Mondays—wasn’t working for me.”

The pandemic wasn’t easy for Askew, but she admits that it made her “get her shit together” (her words, not mine!) and that she doubled her business. This growth allowed her to drop parts of the business that were no longer serving her. She also took the time to get clear on her why, which turned into the mantra “I will nourish your body with food. I will nourish your soul with justice.”

With this mindset Askew entered her first book deal. For all the stories of frustration I’ve heard about the publishing industry from other sources, her experience appears to have been incredibly positive.

“I was very intentional about the team I had for this book. All but one person on the team that I directly worked with was a woman and many were women of color. The editor. The chef on site. The food stylist. My recipe tester. My food photographer. My lifestyle photographer. My publicist. My agent. And that has felt so good. Support from another one, especially support from one Black woman to another is unmatched. There is nothing like it. And that support has reminded me that this is my book. They were constantly telling me, this is yours, what do you want to say?”

Maybe that’s what I find so incredible about Askew. This is a woman who built a platform for herself on the foundation of what she loves and who continues showing up to nourish, to educate, to empower—”to say what she means and to mean what she says.”

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