We had the good fortune of connecting with Sheri L. Raleigh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sheri L., can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Cast Iron Skillet Culinaire, LLC was established to provide cultural awareness of the Creole Heritage through culinary edutainment. I always say, “Food tells a beautiful, soulful story!” The classes I teach are my love letter to South Louisiana. Since its inception on September 12, 2012, Cast Iron Skillet Culinaire, LLC is dedicated to uplifting, enriching, and educating the community on the culinary contributions of the African diaspora to Creole and southern cuisines.
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.
I was just having this conversation with a colleague that most people do not think of food artistry as art! Even Chefs and cooks do not regard their work as art. I recall talking with my daughters, Arielle and Amiah, who are both gifted artists, that I did not see myself as much of an artist. They both said, “Don’t say that Mom! Your art is on the plate!” I took those wise words to heart and began having my culinary students at Lamar CISD take photos of their culinary art. I used these photos to create virtual and physical gallery walks to display their edible artwork. I am very proud and grateful for the opportunity to serve the students of Foster High School. Seeing their culinary journeys over the years has been awesome.
Upon completing my undergraduate studies in Food and Nutrition at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, I moved to Houston, TX, and began working as a dietary manager for a major healthcare provider. A year later I moved to Dallas and began working in school food service. and started a small catering business with a friend from New Orleans. During my 25-plus year career in school food service and teaching food management and hospitality on the college level in Texas and North Carolina, In 2004 I made an intentional decision to move to the classroom, to teach culinary arts at the high school level. This was one of the best professional decisions that I have made. Teaching the students at Foster High School made me a better professional. Helping them to prepare for the annual ProStart Invitational sponsored by the National Restaurant Association was so rewarding. As a result, I received invaluable culinary expertise through the Culinary Institute of America, the Art Institute, and the Texas Culinary Academy.
The first food and wine event on March 17, 2012, with Braman Winery, Richmond, Texas was the catalyst for launching Cast Iron Skillet Culinary, LLC full-time. Since then I have learned so much about how to curate and provide culinary experiences that stimulate the palate and the mind. I value my customers and seek to elevate their appreciation for Creole foods and the West African influences that inspired them. In 2013, I left the classroom for a regional position and moved to Waco, TX. Now that I am an empty nester, I am expanding my business and really developing my brand. I began offering culinary edutainment classes at Gourmet Gallery, Balcones Distilling, and McLennan Community College. Through this culinary journey, I was asked to develop a course that examined the West African Influences on Southern Cuisine. That research encouraged me to revive my cookbook Gifts from the Ancestors. In 2022, I released a series of videos on YouTube,bit.ly/3KuuBRP, through a collaboration with Heirloom 1918, Chef Natasha Jarmon, and Chef “Heir”. www.giftsfromtheancstors.com
I want the world to know that CISC and GFTA are heart-crafted brands that share my Creole Culinary Heritage and West African Ancestry that shaped many culinary techniques, equipment, and recipes used throughout the world today.
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.
Girls Getaway Weekend
Friday in the Museum district
Lunch at Lucille’s
Visit the Museum District
Dinner at Max’s Wine Dive
Zydeco Dancing at Jax’s on Shepherd
Saturday at City Centre
Shopping, lots of shopping!
Lunch at the Brio Italian Grille (had my 5-o there!)
Matinee at Studio Movie Grille
Dinner at Seasons 52 or The Tasting Room
Stay overnight at the Moran Hotel (Formerly Hotel Sorella)
Visit the rooftop bar!
Sunday Brunch on the Kemah Boardwalk
The Flying Dutchman or Prohibition 52
Take in the Boardwalk Venues
Off to the Galveston Airbnb for a three-day Soiree
Dinner at Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant
When in Galveston, please make time for Katie’s Seafood House on the Wharf (I missed it on my last b-day)
Take in the beach, sun, surf & boat rides.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My work is dedicated to the Creole cooks from Acadiana who shaped my culinary journey, specifically the women of New Sunlight Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA, my mother Viola M. Broussard Raleigh, and my grandmother Adele Wrina Lawrence Raleigh.
Instagram: @ChefSheri1913, @blackwomenchefs and @giftsfromtheacestors
Other: Print Media and Publications A Taste of West African Cooking – KWTX Morning Buzz, https://www.kwtx.com/content/news/Morning-Buzz-A-Taste-of-West-Africa-Course-479142683.html A Humble Pea with an Ancient Story – WGNO, Christopher Leach, https://wgno.com/news/a-humble-pea-with-an-ancient-back-story/ Why do we eat black-eyed peas on New Years’? – KXAN, Austin Taming of the Roux – Waco Tribune, Karen Miller-Orr, https://wacotrib.com/waco_today_magazine/central-texas-foodie-the-taming-of-the-roux/article_e1f467d0-eca4-11ea-9306-8bae7b50ee73.html Online Podcasts Episode 136: Green Apron, with Maggie Green, https://greenapron.com/episode-136-becoming-a-cookbook-writer-who-gets-published-with-sheri-raleigh-yearby/ Becoming a Cookbook Writer Who Gets Published with Sheri Raleigh-Yearby Episode 4: Freestyle Flavor, with Chef Tasha Gary, https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/freestyle-flavor-with-chef-tarsha-gary/id1547553061?i=1000506348728
The head shot in green, taken by Brigham Mayfield of Mayfield Fine Photography. All other photos from classes & food events belong to Sheri L. Raleigh.