Today we’d like to introduce you to Candace Barclay.
Hi Candace, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Hey there! My name is Candace, but I proudly go by the name Chef Candace. I am a self-taught chef and content creator residing on the East Side of Atlanta, GA. However, I was born on the Southside of Chicago, IL— a city that will forever be somewhere I’m proud to be from. At the age of 5 years old, I was always fascinated with the Food Network. My first idol was Rachel Ray, and soon to follow were Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Robert Irvine, and Alton Brown. I watched the Food Network religiously my entire life with aspirations to one day be on a cooking show like Chopped or Food Network Star, leaving the studio as a champion. In 2018, I began selling plates after high school, and it wasn’t until after having two unsuccessful attempts at college, six jobs, and a pandemic later to finally move to Atlanta, GA, and amass a network of 120,000+ followers across all of my platforms, and an incredible support system of chefs, content creators, and entrepreneurs. I’m eternally grateful.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It hasn’t been a smooth road at all. While in Chicago, I was never allowed to cook or film content at home. For catering orders and plate sales, I’d have to frantically call around or plan ahead to use someone else’s kitchen. This meant either having to work around people’s schedules, be subject to them changing their minds last minute, packing my small car to the brim with groceries and equipment, being late to orders because I wouldn’t have time to prep. My family never supported my ambitions as an aspiring chef where the pots and pans at my house would be hidden and the gas to the entire house would be cut off. This had been going on since 2019. On top of that—balancing 9-5 gigs with creating content, a social life, and personal life wasn’t always a breeze. When I worked at Jewel Osco working overnight shifts as a baker, I’d catch a bus to the red line train in the middle of the night to get from the South Suburbs to downtown. This was a two-hour commute just to make $13/hr. To save for a car. I always carried a red manifestation journal with me. I’d always be at work planning how to move to ATL, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram content, and writing manifestations for my business. If I left it there, I’d literally take a train back to get it. I’d get off work at 8 am and as soon as I got home would still (secretly) film content. Nothing could (or ever will for that matter) stop me from what the Universe has planned for me as a content creator.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a personal chef and content creator. I also sell recipes full-time as a Recipe Developer via my website. My niche is creating every kind of food—no matter the skill level, technique, cuisine, ingredients, etc. If it really came down to it, I’d say my specialty is comfort food with a fresh and innovative twist to it. I like “remixing” classic dishes and making them my way.
I tell people I make everything and CAN make ANYTHING if I put my mind to it. My target audience is people who aren’t afraid to try new things in the kitchen and embrace daunting dishes or even dishes that seem unique or iffy to them! I think that’s what life is about—taking risks, being bold, fearless, brave, and unapologetic!
I’m known for my creative approach to traditional dishes, unique video style, and warmth from my content. I want my page to be unique but also align with how eating soul food and comfort food is. Inviting, familiar, and giving my followers a sense of home. Almost like visiting your grandmother’s house. I never knew what unique story she would tell me that day, or life lesson, or what new dish she’d make me fall in love with, but every time I visited before she passed, I knew it was somewhere I belonged. I think essentially, I want my brand and content to give people that same feeling.
I’m most proud of the engagement I’ve built up on my page and how my talent has allowed me to build rapport with thousands of people across the globe and created opportunities and connections with people I’ve never imagined. Cooking saved my life and will always be my first love.
What sets me apart from others is my hunger. I’m obsessed with cooking in the healthiest way. I also know how to wait my turn and clap for others when it’s their moment and not mine yet. That’s what took my brand to new heights. I stopped looking at people like “Why them and not me?” And rather changed my perspective too, “this is happening/happened for them, so it will happen for me” “I’m seeing this opportunity and my dream(s) happening for others often, which is a sign my dreams are manifesting and I’m aligned with my path.” You have to have confidence in your brand, patience, discipline, and an eye for innovation. The only people who come out on top is who want it more. Your only competition is yourself. You need to have tunnel vision or you’ll get easily consumed.
I was an artist as a child and am constantly inspired by things around me and am visually stimulated during my creative process. The way my brain works and me naturally being inspired by things around me coincides with my consistency. In order to be successful, you need to be accepting and easily adapt to change—whether it’s new food trends, or Instagram creating a new algorithm—creating a brand is all about versatility.
You want to consistently give your supporters quality content—more so, consistently give them content that gets BETTER every time—but also keep them on their toes with a new idea that will make them go like “Wow.” There isn’t a linear path to success, but once you master patience and discipline, and balancing your creativity with stability and consistency, you’ll always set yourself apart from the rest. You have to believe that your time is coming. I call this mentality as “being hungry.” Meaning you’ll continue to put that work in to achieve what’s meant for you. Not many people have that or ever will.
Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I have never been to culinary school. I only had two restaurant jobs in my life, but never any formal training or schooling. Also, I’m only 21. For some reason, people always think I’m older. Perhaps it could be my music taste or bags under my eyes in my videos!
- Private Dining starts at $500 for two guests
- Catering Drop-Off starts at/has an order minimum of $350
- I accept promo inquiries for food-related products only.
- Meal Prep is available starting at $125/week.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.compleatcuisineatl.com/recipes
- Instagram: www.Instagram.com/chef.candace
- Youtube: www.YouTube.com/chefcandace
- Other: linktr.ee/chefcandaceatl