Why did you choose school nutrition and what do you love about it?
I completed a school nutrition rotation during my dietetic internship in New Orleans and absolutely loved the experience. I knew bringing nutrition education to youth was where I wanted to be, because school nutrition is more than serving meals to students. It’s about providing nutrition to increase productivity and academic ability. It’s about preparing familiar meals to provide comfort and introducing new foods to spark curiosity. School nutrition is about building community through relationships with students, parents and other professionals.
You appeared on “Top Chef: Amateurs.” How was that experience?
I love watching the show and being a part of the production was a magical experience that I will always cherish. I was able to meet some amazing chefs and cook side by side with “Top Chef” alum Dale Talde. I’m still processing that it happened in real life and not in a dream.
You also have your own food blog. Tell us about it.
Some of what I enjoy most about writing Bites With Applewhite is learning and sharing about other cultures through their food. It does mean a lot of late nights and working on the weekends, but when you enjoy what you’re doing—interacting with others and expressing yourself creatively—it doesn’t feel like work at all.
Where is your happy place?
In the kitchen. I often express myself through the dishes I create. I can explore other cultures through their flavors and cooking techniques.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Relax, relate, release. Relax about the future. It will all work out in the end. Relate to others so that you can be a better leader and have empathy for others’ situations. Release all those fears and go for the big goals.
Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares?
I’ve had one about helping to feed people in need. It’s a strange dream, with flying cars and advanced technology. But there are still hungry people, and I’m frantically trying to figure out how to help them.
What’s something that you can’t live without right now?
A good internet connection and a sharp chef’s knife.
What three people—alive or dead—would you invite to a dinner party?
My father, Clifford. He died when I was young, so I’d love to catch him up with all the exciting things happening. Michelle Obama. She’s such an inspiration and is committed to providing nutrition education for our youth, which aligns with my long-term goals. And celebrity chef Ina Garten because she seems like she would throw the best dinner parties.
What’s one historical moment that stands out in your memory?
March 16, 2020. I know it stands out in everyone’s mind. For me, it’s the memory of the public sheltering at home for their safety, but school nutrition professionals driving on empty roads to feed students, despite the unknowns of the pandemic. That is most definitely “superhero” status.