James’ Interview

Author: Shaneice Palmer, Owner of Leah's Gourmet Sauces

September 23, 2019

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am a father of three, ranging from ages two to seventeen and I work for Fresh Food Generation as a Kitchen Manager, and I enjoy watching sports.


How would you describe your role at Fresh Food Generation?

At Fresh Food Generation they call me “quality control” because I’m in the middle of everything. I’m like the bridge between the staff and ownership, so I’m always right in the middle of everything.


How did your journey with Fresh Food Generation begin?

This is one of those bad situations turned good. I was previously working for another company for five years, where they refused to promote me to management.  They’d brought in inexperienced people for me to personally train to be my manager. At that point I decided I needed to find something else to do with my life, start my own business or I needed to work somewhere where I’d be valued…. and that’s how I got here.


Share your favorite Fresh Food Story.

Recently we won an award and went to a banquet. Initially I did not know it was a banquet, so I was not dressed properly – I had on a baseball hat, jeans and sneakers. Everyone else was dressed in gowns, suit jackets and everything, and  I just looked like I shouldn’t have been there.  I tried to hide  in the back and stay low key, and talk to a few people. As they’re accepting the award, of course Cassandria and Jackson—they hate taking praise, instantly deflected with ‘Couldn’t do it all without him right there in the back.’ And I’m like ‘Oh my God’, and of course the entire room turns and looks directly at me.  And I just feel super uncomfortable. I put my best smile on though. [Laughs]


What is one of your favorite aspects of working with Fresh Food Generation?

You know? just that feeling that you’ll never work with people that are as down to earth as Jackson and Cassandria, you just won’t. They are also successful at the same time—while holding their ground and moral compass.


What is your favorite item to cook? Do you have a preferred style of cooking?

Personally, I am not huge on cooking anything.  That’s the truth. So, I’m in the right position now. I make sure everything gets done aka “quality control.”


Fresh Food Generations is an immensely impactful name, how does Fresh Food Generation create impact through food?

Through my experience, with the food that we serve being local, always organic, always fresh—we bring our truck out with fresh, locally made affordable food and share that throughout the neighborhood. It’s not just about the catering which we do. Yes, we are successful as a catering group, but also strategic about making sure that fresh food gets into the community.  So, there is plenty of effort as well as a huge emphasis on local, fresh, organic and community.


How has working with Fresh Food Generation shaped your understanding of sustainability through food?

I do now see the significance of getting this food out to everyone, and helping others see how important it is to eat fresh and local. When I’m not working here, I still try to do the same thing.


There is a dish on the menu named James’s Collard Greens, can you tell us more about this dish and the inspiration behind it?

That was within my first year of being here. We were looking for another dish, we wanted it to be vegan, but we also wanted it to be something very close to soul food. So, that’s like our soul food right there. It is vegan. It is a recipe I created with my grandmother.  I worked on it at home then came in here.  It’s the first recipe I ever perfected, from the top to the bottom.  I’m very proud of it because you can’t even tell its vegan. People have eaten it and have said… “I don’t see the turkey neck in it but I taste the smoke and the flavoring – that full flavor”.  It’s good collard green. It definitely took me out of my element, trying to make this dish.


How do you and Siedric’s Roles intertwine?

Our roles go hand in hand, because he has all the kitchen experience in the world. So with all of his experience, I provide the direction on where things are going to go and it just couldn’t work any better. It’s a good combination of experience, creativity and leadership.


What do you want customers to know about you?

As long as I’m with Fresh Food Generation, everything is getting put out with my “A Game”. I care about everyone equally. Everyone should receive perfection when it’s coming from Fresh Food Generation.


What is one interesting thing about you that no one knows?

I’m not going to tell you, so nobody won’t know. [Laugh]


What is your favorite song at the moment?

I’m going to go with Ella Mai Boo’d up.


What puts James in a good mood?

When other people are in a great mood. Or if I can take someone out of a bad mood. That always puts me in a better place.


Bonus Question: Does pineapple belong on pizza?

I’m very into each his own.  Some people like it. It’s a matter of opinion, because I was against it until I tried it. Pineapple Pepperoni Pizza works, I didn’t know it was going to work like that, but it did. [Laughs]