It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Ten Seventeen...1017 Culinary That Is
If you follow rap, Gucci Mane automatically comes to mind, right? In this case that's completely separate, because 1017 Culinary is when you follow the food.
Chef K. Ray is the St. Louis, Missouri man behind the 1017 Culinary brand. When he completed high school in 2004, Kenneth Everett, or Chef K. Ray joined the United States Armed Forces. It wasn't until he parted ways with the military that he realized his culinary abilities and made the leap to attend Le Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts in Chicago, proudly graduating in 2010.
Per his military background, one would conclude that Chef K. Ray runs a "tight ship" in the kitchen, a real "Major Payne" if you've seen the comedy staring Damon Wayans. Although contrary to his strict disciplinary teachings from the military, Chef K. Ray really likes to have fun when he cooks. He said, "I believe in being relaxed when cooking because cooking uptight causes you to make more mistakes due to overthinking or focusing too much on certain things. I have a natural, fun and relaxed personality, so I want my food to resemble me as a person. I am focused for sure, but it's not a tense and robotic focus if that makes sense."
Photo and Food by: Chef K. Ray
Chef K. Ray has worked in several restaurants before starting the 1017 Culinary brand, including, Three Sixty Rooftop ( St. Louis, MO), Estelle Wine Bar and Bistro (Jackson, MS), 4th Avenue ( Jackson, MS), Sophomore Spanish (Jackson, MS), and most recently, New York Prime (Atlanta, GA). However, at a point in time, Chef K. Ray took a step back from the culinary world due to the fact that he'd faced much adversity from a system designed to prejudge and discriminate against him based on racism and classism.
Aside from the bigotry he'd experienced, Chef K. Ray also experienced the loss of his nephew in 2006. He said, "I have decided to focus on my brand and go full time with it until I open a restaurant. 1017 Culinary is a brand and company that I started to honor my hero and the one who helped me find my motivation and passion for food again after taking several years away from the industry. That hero is my nephew who passed from cancer one week before his first birthday on October 17, hence 1017."
In line with honoring his nephew, Chef K. Ray also pays respect to his mother and grandmother. He pays respect to his grandmother because he grew up watching her so gracefully and effortlessly move around the kitchen that it inspired him to want to learn how to cook, and his mother he said, " Because she sacrificed so much as a single mother of four to raise upstanding children. I owe her so much and even though I can't repay her, I will give it my best shot."
Chef K. Ray has a lot of people rooting for him and looking up to him, including his children Kenneth III, Khristian, Kennady, and Karishma. His children are is "why" and the reason he doesn't give up when the going gets tough and why he wants to inspire others to do the same. Chef K.Ray mentioned, "Those that look like me and aspire to be a part of an industry that doesn't always welcome us with open arms, where you come from and what you have been through shouldn't stop you from pursing your dreams. Keep God first and practice gratitude on a daily basis." Chef K. Ray's unwavering trust in God allows him to find peace in cooking in an otherwise chaotic world.
"Booked and blessed" ~Chef K. Ray
As chaotic as the world may be, he doesn't mind being busy. He's already catered for the likes of Porsha Williams of Real Housewives of Atlanta, R&B group Xscape, Anthony Hamilton, Sheryl Underwood, John P Kee, Kurt Carr, Jonathan Nelson, and Stevie J and his wife Faith. Not to mention, with 12 years of culinary experience under his belt, Chef K. Ray believes that cooking is his natural born, God given talent. "Food is something that can bring the world together. I really believe I fulfill my purpose through cooking and being able to reach people through my food", Chef K. Ray said.
Photo and Food by: Chef K. Ray
In addition to his celebrity clientele, Chef K. Ray's in the process of opening his first restaurant in the "City with Soul", Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson has been Chef K. Ray's home base for the last five years and he plans to be a part of their budding food scene. Upon research, Jackson definitely has a major restaurant and foodie vibe. Sippin Jxn is a blog dedicated to highlighting great restaurants, amazing dishes, and local chefs in the area. The updated blog entries prove that Jackson's food scene is keeping up with the times and can absolutely stomp with the big dogs when it comes to holding their own in the food and beverage industry.
Being that hospitality is the cornerstone of the food and beverage industry, Chef K. Ray takes it very seriously. "To me, food is hospitality. I pour myself into every dish I prepare so I'm welcoming the people into my world. I'm entertaining the guest with dishes through the presentation and I'm bringing strangers into my world through my food" he said.
It appears that Chef K. Ray has a holy heavy hitter to the left of him and he's fully aware of his capabilities, which is why Chef K. Ray is moving with faith and force when it comes to 1017 Culinary. He also doubles as a personal trainer with plans of opening his own gym one day in the near future, so what better way to get your mind, body, and soul in shape than with your personal chef/trainer?
"If you don't fulfill your purpose there will always be a void at the core" ~Chef K. Ray
To book Chef K. Ray and to stay connected, follow him on Instagram at Chef_K.Ray