Meet Chef Z: A Culinary Arts Maestro and Inspirational Educator

A Culinary Journey Rooted in Family Tradition

Zameika L. Williams, aka Chef Z has a passion for culinary arts that was nurtured from an early age, deeply rooted in her family’s rich history in the food service industry. Chef Z is a dual credit culinary arts instructor for Crowley ISD and Lamar University, owner of Luckey G’s Bistro food truck and Jade, an event and catering company. Her grandparents owned Mr. & Mrs. G’s Home Cooking and Pastries, a beloved soul food restaurant in San Antonio. Her uncle, once known as the Brisket King of Fort Worth, sold delicious brisket sandwiches, frito pies, nachos and peach cobbler in local bingo halls, where a young Zameika would energetically take orders and deliver food hoping for a tip. Her mother, now owns a popular food truck in San Antonio, and her great aunts, who cooked everything from pigs’ feet to caramel cakes, further cemented her love for cooking.

As a child, she was trusted with preparing full meals for her family by the age of 12 and often cooked for special occasions at each job she held. Reflecting on her journey, Chef Z feels her path was always destined to lead back to her true passion for culinary arts.

Accidental Yet Passionate Educator

Though education wasn’t initially her planned career path, Chef Z found herself naturally stepping into the role. The convergence of her diverse experiences aligned perfectly when the opportunity to teach presented itself. It blossomed into a true passion, providing her with invaluable and fulfilling experiences. While working towards getting her BSB degree in management with a minor in hospitality management at University of Phoenix, Williams owned and ran a food prep company and worked weekends at Nokia. A chance opportunity presented itself through her oldest daughter that led to a teacher (or 2) encouraging her to apply as a culinary arts teacher for Crowley ISD.

Challenges in Education

The biggest challenge Chef Z faces in education is the extensive administrative workload. Beyond teaching and inspiring students, she juggles paperwork, educational standards, and parent-teacher communications. These tasks, while necessary, often encroach on time that could be better spent on lesson planning and personalized student support. Balancing student needs, maintaining discipline, and keeping up with curriculum changes add to the complexity, requiring meticulous time management and organizational skills.

Bringing Real-World Experience to the Classroom Chef Z’s unique blend of passion, hands-on business experience, and deep culinary roots bring invaluable insights to her students. She emphasizes resilience, creativity, and adaptability, striving to create an engaging learning environment that inspires students to explore their culinary passions and develop innovative thinking. Her goal is to teach not just the technical aspects of cooking but also to instill confidence and innovative thinking. She also works to ensure her students understand how the principles of culinary arts translate into any career path. By sharing personal experiences and the lessons she’s learned along the way, she aims to equip her students with the knowledge and inspiration they need to succeed in the diverse and dynamic field of culinary arts or anywhere else. Williams says, “I let them know that the skills they learn in my class will translate to every career field.” Her students learn they must pay attention to detail, be able to assess situations, prep for what needs to be done, execute the plan, adjust where necessary, identify where things may have gone wrong and be able to correct it in future endeavors. They must be able to work with people and have conversations with people they may not like. Dealing with stressful situations and showing up, even when they don’t want to, being on time and listening to directions are also transferable skills. Finally, even if these students choose not to be chefs, they will have to cook for themselves or their families at some point!

To read the full story, click on the cover of the JUNE 2024 issue


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