Today we’d like to introduce you to Nakaya Wiggins.
Nakaya, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Hey! I’m Chef Nakaya. Brooklyn, New York native. My life has been a complete world wind of a journey. I grew up moving from house to house. I had a very unstable childhood. I was raped at the age of five, I was molested and abused for years until the age of 11. My biological mother sent me away to live with my grandmother when I was 11 years old. I suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts and some major health issues.
I had very little friends. I never really wanted to get close to anyone for the fear of moving again or being ripped apart from the friendships that I loved. Growing up with no parents was extremely hard for me. I felt disconnected and unloved. I graduated from high school and went on to college to become a nurse. My second year of college I felt a yearning to do something more. Becoming a nurse is very fulfilling, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was trying to follow my grandmother’s footsteps in becoming a nurse.
At the age of 25, I started working for Amtrak, as a train conductor. I did that for two years, and I wanted more. So I applied for the locomotive engineer position. HA! to my surprise I got the job. In 2009 I became the first female African American, female engineer for Amtrak in the state of Connecticut. I just made history. *Black Girl Magic* *snaps fingers*
My life was forever changed. Although I had an amazing career as an engineer…. again… I craved and longed for more. I decided to perfect my gift of cooking. I had 20 hour days. I worked 13 hours driving a train and I went straight to culinary school after work. I did this for two years. I was exhausted, however, It was important for me to see this through.
I remember my grandmother cooking in the small Brooklyn apartment, and I would watch and learn. I loved the smells, and the different flavors she would put together. I fell in love with the way “loved cooked food” smelled. For me, it’s not just a nostalgic moment. It was the moment I wanted to recreate over and over again for myself and other people.
I graduated from culinary school head of my class with a 4.0 GPA. I loved it!! It’s funny how life happens… I ended up getting sick and I could no longer drive trains. I was DEVASTATED!
What was I going to do? I ended up homeless for two years. I had to figure something out and I had to do it quickly. Life was happening and I was drowning. I applied to be on the show Master Chef Season 7. I competed against 200,000 other people. I made it to the TOP 40. I did not win the show… I was DEVASTATED again. I had to dig deep inside of my spirit and search for what meant the most to me.
I then started my Catering company and Private Chef services called Forq You Up, in New York. My business quickly grew and spread to New Jersey and Connecticut. I got booked to cook and cater for New York Fashion week for Lord & Taylor 5th Avenue. This was huge! One of the biggest events I’ve ever done. I was still struggling, but I was doing what I loved. I decided to move to Atlanta. I mean because why not? Private Chef services is my baby… It is where I truly make a difference in people’s lives.
Becoming a private chef allows me to grant experiences, and to help create memories. Especially to people who needed it. From personal Chef services to weekly meal prep to creating recipes that I share with the world on YouTube… I’m making a difference and I’m helping the world with my food, love and light. I didn’t want to just cook for people. I wanted to change lives.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Life is a journey in itself…. throw in your passion and you’re sure to get on a roller coaster. LOL
Some of the struggles I faced was self-doubt. Even though I could burn something serious in the kitchen. The fear of not making it used to haunt me. Because I was homeless for two years stability was an issue, and New York was so expensive. Making it harder to get back on my feet. So I relocated to Georgia.
Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
Forq You Up “Getting Forq’d never tasted so good” Forq You up is a private Chef service company. I specialize in intimate events. Anywhere from 2-20 people. I’m about connections and keeping families together. Coming from a broken home, I wanted to offer unity and love to families through food.
I offer Basic Chef services or Premium Chef services. (I also offer meal prep.) I am a private chef. I custom make your menus, based on a theme of your choosing. I create themed brunches, and dinners if requested. I specialize in wedding anniversary dinners and brunches. I am known for my famous mac and cheese, and banana pudding and chocolate mousse. People go “bananas ” over it! LOL (pun intended). For busy moms and dads, I also come to your home weekly and prepare meals for you and your family.
What sets me apart from others is that I am the Chef that clients come to if their marriage is falling apart. I create an atmosphere that helps to remind the husband and wife why they fell in love in the first place. I am the Chef that can come to your home and cook up an amazing surprise breakfast for your pregnant wife. I don’t just “cook” I set the mood, I create an ambiance based on a series of questions given to my clients.
I am most proud of how far I’ve come. I am proud of the precedence I set before my company, where my clients feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with me regarding their life so that I can help try to fix it, or bring the clients closer to a better place in their relationship.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
God and my grandmother. God deserves ALL the credit. I could NOT have done any of this on my won. God gave me the gift of cooking and gifted hands. God gave me strength when I felt like I couldn’t or didn’t want to go on.
God has been here for me the entire step of the way, and I am forever grateful.
My grandmother… For all of the many meals you ever made me watch you make LOL. Thank you, grandma, for not letting me go outside to play instead, you taught me how to bake… I love you so much! RIP baby mema.
- Website: Forqyouup.com
- Phone: 404-692-2704
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/forq.you.up
- Facebook: facebook.com/thelifeofchefkaya
- Youtube: youtube.com/themosaiqchef