The first thing you notice about Lasheeda Perry is her big, bright and friendly smile – and when you get to know her story, you’ll see that she has a lot to smile about! As an accomplished pastry chef, she has worked through the ranks, and is presently the Executive Pastry Chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta. She oversees every aspect of the pastry department of this popular Midtown Atlanta hotel – including restaurant outlets, banquets, room service and off-site events. She’s made two appearances on the Food Network, gaining accolades as the winner of season two of the network show “Sweet Genius” and a finalist on season two of the “Best Baker in America.”
Lasheeda aspires to inspire – through her accomplishments, she hopes to encourage and motivate young people, demonstrating that no matter what obstacles they may face, they can rise above and succeed. We are proud and pleased to feature Lasheeda, and to highlight the many facets of her successful career. We are inspired by her willingness to mentor youth and to give back to the community. We celebrate her for sharing her talent of preparing delectable desserts. One by one, all of these amazing contributions will make the world a little sweeter.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies, special interests?
I love to travel, dine with friends, listen to music and create new menu ideas. Volunteering is dear and true to my heart. I love mentoring the youth, especially young black girls. A couple of my hobbies include board games and DIY projects.
When did you become interested in concocting pastries/desserts/sweet treats?
My love for the culinary arts began when I was a junior in high school. Mrs. Wilma Stephenson, my high school culinary teacher took me under her wing and introduced me to Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). Under her guidance and the support of C-CAP, I received a full-tuition scholarship to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so I decided to major in Baking & Pastry Arts, while simultaneously studying culinary arts. However, I came to the conclusion that I absolutely loved the food science and math required for baking and pastry. Not to mention, that I thoroughly enjoyed tasting all of the pastries, desserts and breads.
I understand that it is your desire to inspire others in all that you do. How do you go about doing that?
I try my best to inspire others by being my authentic self and literally by walking the talk. Within this quest, my first priority is to inspire those within my community. This includes family, friends, colleagues and the youth.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
That’s a tough question, because I’ve been very fortunate to have a support system that truly believed in me when at times, I didn’t believe in myself! Thanks to them, some of my proudest accomplishments are receiving a full-tuition scholarship, being featured on two Food Network shows, becoming an Executive Pastry Chef and a featured author in The Matcha Miracle: Boost Energy, Focus and Health with Green Tea Powder.
What would be your advice to aspiring cooks?
My advice to all aspiring cooks, especially females, is to constantly challenge yourself by thinking outside the box and by pushing the envelope. Don’t be afraid to take risks, be your authentic self and if you can, taste everything!
What do you think you’d be doing right now if you weren’t a pastry chef?
In all honesty, I cannot imagine life not being a pastry chef. I was very fortunate to have found my niche at a young age, so it’s really hard to see myself in another profession. With that being said, I’ve always strived to be more than a pastry chef by taking advantage of each of the culinary related opportunities that come my way.
Who are your heroes?
My heroes are:
Mareeda Perry, twin sister
Ella Mae Campbell, auntie
Wilma Stephenson, high school culinary teacher
David and Charleen Slobindinsky, adoptive parents
Chef Kimberly Davis Cuthbert and her family, mentor
Chef Martha Crawford, mentor
How do you define success, personally and in business? What’s the best part of success and what’s the worst part of success in your business?
Because I was raised by a single mother who did not complete high school, my initial idea of success was very limited. I knew that I just wanted to be more than a high school dropout. As my mother became ill, the desire to be successful was my only option. As a teenager, I viewed success in a materialistic way. Due to the unwavering support of my teachers, instructors and mentors, I now define success as finding your calling, then working with integrity, discipline and enjoyment to achieve full prosperity.
The best part of success as a chef is having the opportunity to travel the world and befriend some amazing people. Unfortunately, work/life balance is the worst part. I am so grateful to have family and friends who are very understanding.
What’s next for you?
Thus far, my career has led me down an unbelievable path! My ultimate goal is to be the chef owner of a dessert cafe. In the meantime, I will continue my journey as an Executive Pastry Chef while taking advantage of every opportunity.