We had the good fortune of connecting with Frehdeé Gatewood and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Frehdeé, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
The most important decision I made, other than working for myslef, was to help and support everyone else who did the same for me! Especially the small self-owned businesses that also took a leap of faith of Entrepreneurship! I feel when you WILLINGLY give back more comes your way!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Wow, these are amazing interview questions!!!

Well first, my mane sets me apart! Not just my birth name, but was given to me as my chef name! My maiden name is Frehdeé M. Gatewood, my mother took my grandmothers nick name and passed it over to me; while my father decided to go ALL IN on the unique spelling!

My intern chef, Chef Tiago, gave me what my chef name is today which is Chef Kruger. I did have to earn the title of Chef since I haven’t even graduated culinary school , at The CIA in New York, yet, but he did always call my Kruger instead of my name! I remember my last week working before heading back to school was my schedule change. Tiago usually made the schedule or I think all the Sous Chefs took turns, either way on my last week he put in, “ We Will Miss You Kruger! “ or something close to that! It warmed my heart and I’ve kept it with me since!

The next would be my business name. I came up with it in high school after listening to India Arie’s rendition of Billie Holiday’s “ Strange Fruits “. Ever since I heard the last note she sung… I knew then what my restaurant name would be. A deep cultural meaning that I was going to change the tide on, the view, the meaning of the words. I definitely suggest anyone reading this article to go on YouTube right this second and listen to the rendition and original before continuing! Soon after I confirmed my restaurant name and stood by it I told my mother; that same year on my birthday she gifted me with my dba for my business !

I got here today with nothing but the blessings of God and the support of friends, family, loved ones, and mentors! Whether we talk everyday or not the love and support overflows continuously! I definitely would not say it has been easy, this road is still very bumpy with many hills, valleys, and mountains. That’s just the thing though… if it was easy was it worth it? When I really get to where I want to be with all of my talents I know I will be so much more humble and appreciative if I work for it, cried, sweated, and bleed. All the nights of not knowing how I was going to do anything in this new way of living, price increases everywhere, or loosing people to sickness or the ties thinned out. Everything will be much more worth it knowing I worked hard to bring myslef, college’s, and family up with me! The thought of helping others as well is enough for me to keep reaching for my goals, because once I help myslef I can help others!

The lessons I’ve learned along the way is that you will loose many in the process of growth. Growth is not just in the financials but within yourself too. Your personal life can very much affect your business! Learning to use Discernment on who to listen to, who to let help you, who to tell your business to, how to work with the money you are receiving but also have to put back into your business… sooo many things I am still learning today and will continue to learn! If you don’t learn you don’t grow, and you don’t always have to show your hand,now a days people lie/steal/and cheat to get a pennie. Not everything needs to be shared! Show your hand when it’s time.

What do I want people to know about my business? I’m not just a chef, I’m not just a business owner, daughter, sister, aunt, mentor, or friend. I am a person hungry for any and everything that brings smiles and warmth. Yes call it Cliché or hippy if you want but that’s my nature. I always want and rather help people be better and feel better. If I can not make someone feel how I’ve felt or just be able to put a smile on your face just for a moment in this world we live in with my own smile, hug, food, or any art I will!

I strive to be able to make the southern, French, Cajun/creole cuisines healthier but still have the same great taste! I say those specific ones because that’s in my culture and it has hurt us so, but also brought us together; so why not try and make it good for us and to us as well? Even if just by a quarter or half way healthier is better than dying of heartaches, clogged arteries, and other diseases!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I was to take someone on a week long tour of The Hou-T… I would first take them to a poetry showcase, then ride bikes around downtown sightseeing, stop at Ziggies Record store right behind breakfast club, hopefully catch a concert at Cynthia Mitchell Pavilion on the grass, Restaurant hop around the city, see some beautiful graffiti ( would love if the “Be Someone” tag was put back! ) , and really I would be sightseeing as well being that Houston is waaaaaay to big for me to know all of the spots!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh there are so many to recognize for where I am I don’t know if I can list ALL of them!!!!

Of course giving all thanks to God first, for blessing me with many talents other than creating in the kitchen, but I would start with my Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle, and my Mother for showing and teaching me home cooking; and what it means to have cooked day and night for loved ones all to stand and watch them enjoy everything before taking a single bite of food!

Next my dad, once I hit high school he let me cook freely in the kitchen as long as I cleaned up my mess!!! So pretty much a free for all as long as he didn’t have to come behind me and clean! Wow… these next few really rocket launched me into the chef I am today. I would love to describe what each one did, but then this recognition story will turn into a novel!

Chef Robert Holloway, Chef Miguel Rodriguez, Chef Tiago, Chef Rudy Speckamp ( probably misspelled & In Loving Memory), my college Garde Manager Chef ( name escapes me ! ), Professor Wise, Jona Sargent, Annet Haynes, The Whole Sodexo Team ( I would LOVE to name all of you but you should know who you are specifically!!! ), Chef Solomon, Sherick aka Jersey, and last but not least In Loving Memory Ms. Arceneaux!

I know the list is even longer than this, but I truly hope the names I didn’t say know that they also had a big part in my success EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!

Instagram: Strange_fruitsllc

Image Credits
Limitless_spectrum on Ig took the first photo of me holding a plate and of my business cards!!!

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