Chef Jamika Pessoa is a dynamic businesswoman and an inspiration to many. She challenges expectations of what a female chef can accomplish. Currently, she is an entrepreneur, TV host, motivational speaker, philanthropist, wife, mom and more. This Southern belle has Caribbean roots and describes her cooking style as “Caribbean warmth meets Southern sweetness.”
How did you become a cook?
I was working in Atlanta at this marketing company after 9/11, so everyone was laid off and things were crazy. They took me into the office and said, “We’ll demote you if you want to stay or you can grab your things and leave right away.” Before you even thought of the answer, your mouth popped out, and I was like ‘let me go’.
I was going through so many different emotions and I started cooking, because I’ve always loved cooking. I grew up cooking with my grandmother; [I was] the youngest of three daughters. The food is what I knew and liked. It was the one thing I was really good at, but I never thought of it as a career. I just started cooking and taking things out. Before I knew it, I had this whole meal and wasn’t even consciously thinking about it because I was still in my emotions. I was like, “wait a minute, why am I not doing this [professionally]?”
Talk about your show, “The Good Dish.” What is it about?
We cover everything. We have celebrity guests and I have to cook with Susan Lucci and Laila Ali. It’s a whole other thing, but we can make everyday recipes that anyone can make, duplicate, and enjoy. We make sure the price is right. All these TikTok hacks we test for you and if it really doesn’t work we let you know so you don’t have to waste your time and money. It has everything for every person, whatever your lifestyle. It’s a fun show. We laugh, and I’m as dumb as can be, but I make sure to give you the recipe at the same time. There are also cocktails involved, and where there are cocktails, who knows what might happen?
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a culinary career?
If you want to become a classically trained chef, you can always go to culinary school for that. I see so many people, especially on Instagram and TikTok, having their side business.
Don’t think that side hustles should remain side hustles. You [can] move gradually so that side control becomes the main thing. [As] you progress, plan and invest the money. A lot of people try to cut corners, but you need to invest in a quality product so people will trust and know and accept and receive what you do. Make a business plan, even if it’s not a full-fledged plan, write something down on paper because that’s also your form of prayer.
“The Good Dish” airs weekdays at 4 p.m. EST on CTV.