– Mentors Make a Difference –
Lasheeda Perry has always had a passion for culinary arts and competition, and luckily for her, this love has materialized into a rewarding and ‘sweet’ career.
A creative force in the kitchen, Lasheeda Perry leads the pastry team as their Executive Pastry Chef at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta and oversees the hotel’s desserts for their two dining outlets, all banquets and private events, weddings, room service, chef tastings and off-site events. Lasheeda has become a valued member of the Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts culinary team, sharing her pastry skills in Dallas, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lanai, Silicon Valley, and now, Atlanta.
This is the second year in a row that a C-CAP Alum has made it to the Finals of Food Network’s BEST BAKER IN AMERICA. Thiago Silva, last year and this season it was Lasheeda’s turn. I watched the stellar performance from this pastry chef extraordinaire as she battled it out especially during the final episode, although she didn’t take home the title, the judges crowned her “The Queen of Flavor.”
“Being a twin, I feel as though I was born to be competitive…no matter what, while competing, I like to take risks, work hard and most importantly, have fun,” says Lasheeda.
On July 29, Lasheeda will be participating in PeachFest, a peach-centered food festival that promotes the initiatives of responsible agriculture, hospitality, and technology alongside delicious preparations of Georgia-grown products. All proceeds from the event will benefit Piggy Bank, a start-up farm that serves as a Kickstarter to emerging family farms. PeachFest has also teamed up with Concrete Jungle to plant more peach trees in Atlanta. Concrete Jungle is a volunteer-run organization that helps distribute neglected fruit to Atlanta’s hungry. Lasheeda will represent Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta and will be making a peach-inspired dish for over 600 attendees.
Lasheeda Perry is a case study in resilience. Born to a single mother with eight children and an absent father, Lasheeda’s childhood, in her own words, “was filled with drugs, sex, and poverty.” She lived with a succession of relatives. Eventually, she ended up in a shelter. After years of misfortune, Lasheeda got two crucial breaks that helped her realize her own intelligence and tenacity: “My culinary arts teacher at Frankford High School, Wilma Stephenson, took me under her wing – and she introduced me to C-CAP,” she explains. Unfortunately, Lasheeda’s mother took ill forcing both her and her twin sister, Mareeda to obtain a full-time job to supplement the income. The twins became each other’s emotional support.
This is where C-CAP made all the difference. Fast-forward to her graduation from high school in 2004—as valedictorian of her class. Lasheeda Perry received a four-year full-tuition scholarship from C-CAP to attend Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. “That was the beginning for me,” she explains. “Thanks to C-CAP, Chef Joseph Poon, Joseph Poon Chef Kitchen, I boarded my very first flight to China. “While there, Chef Poon challenged me to take my taste buds to a new level…I thoroughly enjoyed the pigeon we had in Hong Kong.” This became the first of many abroad sojourns for Lasheeda.
As a college freshman, she expanded her knowledge and found a myriad of invaluable mentors with whom she still keeps in contact. Lasheeda entered and won the Australian Taste Down Under competition. Her winning dish: Wattleseed Mango Tower. This dessert earned her a two-week culinary adventure in Australia. “What an amazing cultural experience! I had the opportunity to eat witchetty grubs with an Aborigines tribe.” She also studied in Ireland for three months at Adare Hotel & Golf Resort. While in Europe, Lasheeda traveled to England for further inspiration.
“Lasheeda exemplifies the character of many C-CAP students. She was a survivor of her difficult childhood and the circumstances that life dealt her. After being introduced to C-CAP Lasheeda took advantage of every opportunity presented and has made the most of them. Lasheeda’s success is greatly due to her positive attitude, her optimism, her determination to succeed coupled with her empathy for others. We feel very fortunate to have Lasheeda as a member of our C-CAP family!” says C-CAP Founder and Chairman Emeritus Richard Grausman.
In between studying and traveling, Lasheeda worked seasonally at Sweet Jazmines Pastry Shop where she gained a new mentor, chef/owner Kimberly Davis Cuthbert.
She also credits her position with Bon Appetit Management Company at the LinkedIn Corporate Campus in California with giving her the foundation that made her the leader she is today. There, Chef Perry had the opportunity to help create a pastry program from scratch and assisted with developing the structure of the pastry stations. By the time she left in November of 2016, her team was producing an average of 3,000 desserts daily throughout four cafés.
Lasheeda also blew the competition out of the water when in 2012, she appeared on the Food Network’s former TV series, Sweet Genius, where she won the title and $10,000. Her difficult beginning behind her, she now spends her days creating sweet endings—for diners and for her own story as well.
Lasheeda Perry shares her success with all those who have been with her along the way. “Yes, you want the food to be visually appealing and to taste even better, but that human connection is the icing on the cake.”