Meet Ronnishia and Rheema Johnson and Calloway of The Vegan Hood Chefs
The Vegan Hood Chefs started in 2017 as a direct need to address health disparities in the “HooD” where we grew up. Like most under served communities, Bay View Hunters Point of San Francisco is not only known for being one of the areas in the world to one of the largest super fun sights but also the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Growing up we were always raised around the rhetoric that diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease were hereditary and not directly linked to our access and education around health food choices. Through our experiences as community organizers we learned just how much this disparity was being left out of many social justice conversations or shared in a way that was relatable to the culture and community of black and brown people. We started to change the way we were eating and began to record and post our food recipes on Instagram. We always like to say our community and target market chose us because we never intended on our efforts turning into a business. Through our Instagram we were invited to cater a last minute event for one of our friends who was hosting an event. I called up my cousin who was in culinary school at the time and we agreed to do the event. Crazy but for our first ever event we catered for over 150 people with no prior food experience and sold out! Every since that day our business has grown to heights we cannot even imagine. We have been awarded for or vegan fried chicken and our vegan Mac and cheese. I think most of all we have been rewarded by proving to ourselves that we could create something that would not only create change in our community but that also possesses integrity and intentionality! Our goal is to increase education and access to health and organic foods, while honoring the heritage and a sacredness of food practice.
We have had several struggles. We grew up in households and in communities where we did not have direct access to entrepreneurship. We had to teach ourselves literally how to build a business and run in efficiently. As black women, in a male dominated field we have experienced first hand, that we often have to work three times as hard in order to get the recognition or access to networking we deserve. As women we also play a huge role as caretakers in our families. We both work 9-5 jobs and act as care takers to our elderly grandmothers. We have had to make sacrifices as it relates to time, in order for our business to run. We live in the most expensive city of the world so as much as we want to take risk and become full time entrepreneurs immediately, our circumstances and obligations to our family have made our journey to building the business look different. There have been many sleepless nights!
We are The Vegan Hood Chefs and we make bomb vegan food with soul. Our goal is to use our culinary art to wow people who do not regularly have access or knowledge about vegan food. We provide catering, pop up restaurant set up, and education classes to address the need for nutrition access for black and brown communities. Veganism has grown so much throughout the world and evidence of that are all of the growing vegan companies. Majority of these notable companies have taken on the fast food model, whereas we’d like to highlight that just because something is vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. most options contain a large number of overly processed and engineered meat replacements and other food options. What makes us different is that weave made a intentional effort to continue to create foods that are only using fresh organic and Non soy ingredients. We are not interested in creating a fast food restaurant but More so a food hub that will transform the way people think about Veganism not just from our food but the educational tools we provide as well. We have adopted the pop up restaurant model because it allows us to circulate through communities who are most in need. We have the opportunity to go where the people are. Not to mention our food is hella bomb and it is also creative!
We define success by addressing the needs of our families and communities. We define success by sustainability. We know that there is a direct need for more black and women owned businesses. Although the market is growing the research states that only a small number of black owned businesses are actually able to scale their businesses. We know that success is for us is not only rooted in the fact that we were able to create our endeavor but in the resources, knowledge, and access needed to sustain it.