Ai LIVE: Chef Jamika Pessoa shares her Journey from Corporate to Culinary
In this episode of Ai LIVE, host E. Vincent Martinez chats with Chef Jamika Pessoa, who traded her business suit for a chef’s hat, and has appeared on multiple television shows including Good Morning America, Food Network, the Today Show, and many others.
Chef Pessoa started out with a degree in marketing and business administration. However, she soon realized that this wasn’t the idyllic career she dreamed it would be. However, during a round of layoffs, Pessoa was given the choice to be demoted and take a pay cut, or leave the field she was working in. On an impulse, she left. After her decision, she panicked; she still had student loans to pay off from her degree. But she later realized that quick decision set her up for a much more rewarding career because she was willing to leave her comfort zone.
Once she was out of the workforce, Pessoa considered what things she was good at and what things she liked to do. She also factored in job stability—which led her to rekindle her love for the culinary arts. She grew up cooking with her grandmother, a figure she credits as part of her inspiration, and since people will always need to eat, she had a very secure career path ahead of her.
While she was in classes for her culinary education, Pessoa was already planning on starting her own business. Initially, she started with the idea of becoming a personal chef since that was more affordable for her at the time. She also found that working as a line cook, she couldn’t see the result of her efforts unless the dish got sent back, so she wanted that personal connection with her clients. As time went on, she was able to network with multiple people and get her name out there, and eventually, she was able to start her own catering business, Life of the Party Catering.
The advice she gives to aspiring students is to start as small as possible without cutting down on the product or the experience. She encourages them to start saving to build their business, and that sometimes, you’ve got to give a little to get a whole lot more.If you’ve been inspired by Chef Pessoa’s journey, check out the culinary programs at the Art Institutes by clicking here.
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