• Schan Ellis

"Don't be afraid to fail. The risk is worth the reward." | EmpowHERed Woman | Chef Jud


I don't even remember how Chef Judy and I met. However, I do know that her name preceded her even before we actually laid eyes on each other. A good name is a great quality to have and she indeed has it! Chef Judy can not only cook circles around some of the best chefs in the business, her infectious personality, heart of service and humorous nature draws people locally, from around the state and from around the country, into her North Carolina based restaurants, personal chef and catering company, Let Me Cater to You. She cares about her customers and they care about her.

Chef Judy specializes in "home cooked meals made with love and a gourmet twist!" Let me tell you, her comfort foods are super delicious. My favorite days to visit are when Mexican Corn is on the menu. It. Will. Knock. Your. Socks. Off.

Born and raised in Chicago, Chef Judy loved cooking. It was her passion even from a young girl cooking for her friends and family to finally joining the Military as a Food Service Specialist. Throughout her career she has cooked for prestigious hotels and universities nationally and abroad, along with being featured on The Food Network's highly famed television show, Chopped.

While all of these accomplishments are beautiful, we are honoring Chef Judy here today for her ability to connect with people, preparing food and feeding them both naturally and spiritually. She shares personal stories of trial and triumph. She is a community leader, gracious giver and not ashamed of her faith in God. Chef Judy is Mother to Destiny, her sweet daughter, a sister to many and an EmpowHERed Woman.

Here's a bit of her story she's shared with me.

Schan: Cooking seems to come very naturally to you. What was your motivation in becoming a trained chef and ultimately launching a catering and restaurant business?

Chef Judy: I went into the Army at 17 years old. When I realized that I was able to make money doing something I loved, I decided to take classes to hone my skills. I enjoy catering to people. That's where I get the most fulfillment.

Schan: Anyone who's been around you and have seen you in action can sense that you really enjoy what you do! How did you come up with the name, Let Me Cater To You?

Chef Judy: I have to be honest, Beyonce was my inspiration. She had a song about catering and I said when I start a catering business I would use that name. I wanted to make it personal as to how I could cater great food, and awesome service.

Schan: I am literally cracking up because when I first heard the name, the Beyonce song was the first thing I thought about! So the word passion…What does that mean to you? How do you use passion to grow your business?

Chef Judy: The word passion to me means, breathing, loving, living, having faith, and embodying all of your heart into whatever it is that you desire to do. I use passion as a guide for how I operate day to day. I absolutely love what I do. Without me speaking it, it shows.

Schan: We can definitely see it! Aside from business, as a woman, how do you exemplify empowerment for other women?

Chef Judy: I host networking events where women from all walks of life can come together to encourage, uplift and inspire each other. I also attend gatherings where I can pour into women who need a little motivation, as well as speak to women sharing my story of overcoming. I bring friends together to teach them the importance of friendships and how together we can achieve so much more. Women are a force and we don't have to be catty or negative. We can really bring out the best in each other. After all iron sharpens iron.

Schan: I have been a witness to your networking events; even being a vendor to one of your all Girls/Women Super Bowl parties. We always have a blast and you inspire beautifully. However, what makes you "Beautifully Inspired"?

Chef Judy: I give love. It's almost contagious, I love people and I love food. One of the ways I'm able to express my love is through cooking, I have a story to tell and I don't mind sharing, I speak life through food. I'm inspired and encouraged by other women who have a great heart, loves to give and loves the Lord. I am Beautifully Inspired.

Schan: Yes, Ma'am, you are! If you could think of ONE word that describes you, what would it be and why?

Chef Judy: Overcomer, I have been though so many difficulties but I still have joy, I'm able to help others bounce back through my witness. In the last 4 Years, I've suffered two miscarriages, both of my parents have passed away and I went through a very public separation from my husband, yet I'm still here, right where God wants me to be. I've overcome, and I'm living a blessed life.

Schan: After that, what else can I say but Amen! What is your greatest life lesson?

Chef Judy: My greatest life lesson was realizing that I have a voice, I decided to put God first in my life and use my voice to speak on things that matter most to me. Not just that; I realize that life is far too short to not live it abundantly.

Schan: What does success mean to you and have you ever failed on your journey whether in life or entrepreneurship? If so, how did you use that failure as fertilizer to fuel your success.

Chef Judy: My definition of success is making a difference in the lives of others in only a way I can do it. I've had personal failures to include failed relationships, and even a failed marriage. I used that to propel me to reach my destiny. I didn't feel hopeless, I put my cape on and pushed myself because I knew I was a great woman with or without a man.

Schan: And the church said Amen again! In closing, what advice would you give readers in stepping out on faith and following their dreams?

Chef Judy: Never give up even when the road seems long and difficult, Trust the process. It's okay to have moments but don't allow yourself to wallow in disappointment. Don't be afraid to fail. The risk is worth the reward. Dream big. There is a world out there waiting on you to succeed!

Wow. There you have it. I've read this interview more than once and each time, I am inspired. Chef Judy is indeed an EmpowHERed Woman. She's humble, grounded and real. I cannot thank her enough for her commitment to community involvement and her work uplifting women and youth to be great! An organization she holds dear is Let's Make It Happen Together, an organization that is community based and helps to provide better opportunities for men, women, boys and girls. Don't forget to go to either of her restaurants in Fayetteville or Spring Lake and make sure to book her as a personal chef or for your catering needs. I promise you'll be getting great food and with her, you'll get something far more greater to make your event and your life just a little mo' sweeter!

Until next time, know that beauty and greatness resides within you. Remember that you have the POWER to CREATE each day INTENTIONALLY GOOD and to Be Beautifully Inspired!

Sincerely,

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