Celebrating the Culinary Diversity of NYC with Chefs Elle Simone Scott & Chimere Ward

Chefs Elle Simone Scott and Chimere Ward, the women behind She Chef Inc, presented “Summer Nights, An Ode to Summertime in NYC” for our A NIGHT IN pop-up series.

A NIGHT IN Chef Spotlight: She Chef INC

Photo Cred: She Chef Inc

With two very distinct backgrounds, Simone and Ward are the perfect duo to bring mentoring to women chefs of color pursuing culinary arts as a career. Elle Simone is the Executive Editor & Inclusion Leader at America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). She is also a food stylist for Cook’s Country, an on-screen test cook for America’s Test Kitchen, and host of “The Walk-In” podcast

Chimere Ward is the owner of Clean Plate Co., a self-taught executive chef & culinary entrepreneur. Clean Plate Co. was officially established in 2010, producing out of Hot Bread Kitchen. in New York City, and expanded into full-service catering for government agencies, The business has also manufactured prepared food products to Whole Foods, Food Kick, Columbia University & Park Slope Food COOP. Ward has also been seen on The Food Network’s CHOPPED promo with Hillshire Farm. 

Together they work as a team to carry She Chef, Inc.

“She Chef is a social enterprise and networking organization for women chefs of color and our allies. I started She Chef in 2013 because there was a huge lack of representation of women of color in the workforce. When I went to school with a lot of women of color, I didn't see that representation there. So, I decided to create a support group. She Chef has now evolved into a lot of things over time. It is a network of education, from networking to connecting, to teaching people about the types of careers that are available in the culinary arts,” says Simone.

Inspiration information

As we talked with both women, we dug into all things inspiration for the menu. Simone says,

“The inspiration for summer nights was really based on Chimere’s and I friendship for almost ten years. I think one of the most phenomenal things about NYC is you can have any sort of cuisine your mind can make up at any given time. We thought that’s what made NYC such a special place. The variety that it offers. And we wanted our dinner to reflect the culinary scene in NY.”

“I was born in the west village and being a New Yorker I'm proud of the melting pot. It's a melting pot of all these cultures. I've lived in every borough in every NYC and my Caribbean heritage makes me proud of this menu,” Ward says.

“I'm excited about this new menu because it celebrates the diaspora. I'm from midwest Detroit, and it's quite a cultural experience that gets overlooked. We have a beautiful Mexican American community and a great Greek Orthodox community. Coming to NY allowed me to see it on a larger plane.” Simone says

Let’s talk courses

Both Chef’s brought inspiring flavors to their pop-up, all meticulously prepared to honor their roots. The first course was a falafel with beet tzatziki, roasted garlic hummus and micro sorrel. 

A NIGHT IN Chef Spotlight: She Chef INC

“This dish makes me so happy because it reminds me of the halal trucks in NYC where we get out lunches on a daily basis.” Simone says

The second course was the Escovitch-style fried fish, coconut rice and peas. 

A NIGHT IN Chef Spotlight: She Chef INC
A NIGHT IN Chef Spotlight: She Chef INC

“This reminds me of the region of Brooklyn since it's real Jamaican, colorful, bright, sweet and salty with a hint of vinegar. It's a great punch for your tastebuds,” says Ward

Lastly, we had a gluten-free peach cobbler with cornmeal biscuits which was a nod to the South and Harlem. The cobbler brought a beautiful textural experience and was a nod to your grandma’s Sunday summer peach cobbler.

A NIGHT IN Chef Spotlight: She Chef INC

Food as a language and vehicle for community

“The diversity of this menu was really important for us. It's important that we look at food as a way for voices to be heard. I think it means a lot for people to see their cultures represented on a plate, so it was almost a no-brainer for us,” says Simone.

It was also important for the women to offer food that people missed during Covid since they couldn’t be in the street. It is clear there is a huge nod to street food in their menu, as well as its culture and the people who are making a living off of it.

“We need to go back to supporting those people and our communities, helping the food people get back on their feet. And this is just a reminder that these foods are out there and you should just go out and support your neighborhood,” says Simone

How to stay involved

“I want people to feel reconnected. I want them to feel comfort because it is comfort food. I want them to feel inspired to get back out into the world and continue to explore and advance their palates in the world. I hope it reminds them what it likes to have food that doesnt necessarily come from your kitchen,” - She Chef Inc.

If you would like to support She Chef Inc you can follow them on all social media platforms and check them out at ​​https://www.shechef.info/ 

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