Born to Thrive, a conversation with Nadege Fleurimond on food, business and her new book “Taste of Solitude”
Let’s start with your most current project, “Taste of solitude” a culinary journal that you created during Covid 19- How did that idea come to you?
This book is purely an accident. Wait, that’s not entirely true. Rather, it is an intentional book born out of circumstances, created as a form of rebellion. It is my “I am not taking this sitting down” reaction to being Quarantined for the last 3 months. When COVID-19 hit, most of my businesses from catering, to travel/tours to real estate came to a halt so I did what I always do when I’m challenged, I create! As cooking is one of my many creative outlets. Food to me is not just nourishment, it’s a connector, a bridge that brings people from all cultures together. I utilized my social media platform to create these new experiences through cooking and the response exceeded my expectations. Like they say “ necessity is the mother of invention” Instead of staying complacent ,I went into full entrepreneurial mode and wrote “Taste of Solitude which is my way of living a purposeful, passionate and intentional life no matter what the circumstances are. The light is always there, sometimes we just had to dig deep and pull it out. The book is my gift to anyone who needs a little boost especially during trying times.
How different is “Taste of solitude” from “taste of life” and “Haiti Uncovered” your two previous books?
All three books are similar in that they all entail a certain level of my personal journey and recipes. Taste of Solitude is perhaps a melange of the two with a bit more edge. It is my most creative project. And the one that I feel represents me the most. I think as a creative who’s also very business savvy, people can often pigeonhole you into how they think you should show up. This book is me doing it my way. I think for the longest time I’ve been trying to say quietly that a chef does not have a look nor a way of thinking. Food is the tool I utilize to connect and share my message of empowerment and encourage others to follow their own passionate dreams and path. So Yes, in the book food is front and center. It’s my anchor. There are beautiful visuals of every dish because my audience appreciates my cooking and wants to learn from me. And of course I wanted to share how I really cook for myself and for my clients, whhich is world fusion, comfort all with a Haiti touch.
The book also features creative images of me highlighting my love of color, fashion, ingredients as I share the stories, lessons and themes that sprung out of this time: Gratitude, friendship, Hope, and so much more.
Food is a very important component in the Haitian Culture, however not too many see it as a connector, how do you plan on using your passion for food to build bridges and educate the world about Haiti?
My career has been about using food to connect. My book Haiti Uncovered inspired so many people to learn about Haiti. So much so that in 2018, many who owned it demanded that I take them to Haiti. Thus, the Haiti Uncovered Culinary Tour was born. The first year we took 23 people, the following year 45 people registered. Many participants were Haitian Americans whose parents never took them to Haiti. We are talking about 30,40, even 50 year olds who were stepping into Haiti for the first time because of this book. Others were other Caribbean and non Haitians who wanted to explore Haiti beyond the history books and mainstream media.
I have done culinary diplomacy work with the US Department of State in Haiti, I have done cooking classes at the Haitian Embassy in DC. I host numerous events in NYC from brunches to galas to a recent blag and Fritay night that many are still talking about 2 years later.
Food disarms, so it has always been easy for me to bring people together and share information through food centered events.
How do you want “Taste of Solitude “ to impact your readers ?
Taste of Solitude offers the reader an opportunity to see that power remains in each of our hands. Even when you feel hopeless, there is always an aspect of your life that you have control over. And when you take ownership of that part (big or small), it will seep into other areas and grow and eventually you grow!
I want the reader to know that there’s beauty and possibility in almost every experience. And as cliche as it sounds, to not take the small things for granted.
And as they take this all in, I want them to remember that more than music, food is the true sound track to our lives. Most memories are usually marked by meals, ingredients and foodie experiences. So as they learn, grow and experience this life, why not create some yummy dishes along the way?
Is there a dish/recipe from this book that describes you or your personality? If yes, which one?
The black rice djon djon seafood paella. It’s eclectic, a blend of two amazing cultures and spicy. I’m a Sagittarius. I love variety,experimenting and pushing the limits. This dish is exactly that…It speaks and sings to me lol.
The pandemic affected a lot of businesses, what are some of the strategies that you adopted as an entrepreneur that helped boost your business?
The number one trait that every business or entrepreneurs need to develop is their ability to adapt which walks alongside innovation.
I have survived both the 2008 recession and this pandemic with these two traits. In 2008 when my business was mostly corporate, I had to shift to more social events and added the component of cooking classes to grow.
This pandemic showed me the value of really building your personal brand no matter what business you are in. Because my personal brand and what I stand for is strong, it was easier to pivot with my audience when the need to create a new product or business arised. At the start of the pandemic my number one selling product was my Professional Epav T-shirt. Though it wasn’t food, it was connected to me, and my audience connected to it.
With a strong personal brand, selling any service/product is easier. So develop it.
As the CEO of Roar consulting, what advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are feeling stuck due to the pandemic and socio political climate?
You will not have all the answers in a day but you have to be committed to stay the course. True entrepreneurs understand that it’s not a matter of if, but rather how. The pandemic is a bump in the road but not the end of the road.
Entrepreneurship is constantly learning and developing. Through other people and their ideas, your own will spark and you will add your unique touch to seal the magic and Don’t give up!
Interview by: Francesca Andre