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Q&A with Nicola Blaque, Executive Chef and Owner, at Freight Fried Chicken & The Jerk Shack

How long have you been in business or been in your role and what is the thing that gets you out of bed every day?

I’ve been cooking as a chef professionally since 2016, I opened my first culinary business while I was in culinary school at the CIA. The thing that gets me out of bed daily is the joy I see when people eat at my restaurants. I love being able to feed people, I feel food is a universal language and it speaks to everyone.

When you were younger, did you ever see yourself doing what you do now?

I always loved cooking but I didn’t think I would be a chef. I served 10 years in the U.S. Army and my job while in the service was logistics. After multiple deployments overseas to Afghanistan and Iraq cooking just became a part of me that soothed my soul. It brought me peace during stressful times. When I exited the military I decided to go to culinary school in San Antonio

What would you tell your younger self if you could spend 1 hour with her?

Just keep working hard, I remember feeling as a child that things would never be the way I wanted. I still feel like that now but my belief system behind my work ethic has never failed me.

It can be difficult to pinpoint one single woman who inspired you in your life and career. When you step back and think about the multitude of women in your life, what would you say to those who have supported you and been a sounding board in your career?

I would say my sisters in arms. While in the military, I was mentored and surrounded by amazing women. I’ve never been a part of a sorority but I’m assuming that’s what it felt like. Forever mentors and forever supporters. These women, no one in particular, they all shaped me into who I am today.

Tell us about an ancestor or woman in your family whose story has been passed down to you. 

I was born in Jamaica and I moved here as a young child, I can’t point out any particular story but I do know the women in my past loved to cook. 

What is your personal mission in life and how do you fold that into the work you do? 

My personal mission currently is to spread Caribbean food and help more women become entrepreneurs. My daughter is 2 years old and I want her to be able to see a ton of women like her mom as she grows up. 

What is your superpower? 

I think my superpower is I just don’t quit easily. I always try to find a way. I can endure a lot which comes from my military background.

From where do you draw your strength, creativity and stamina to keep going? 

My kids. I have a 3-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. They keep me going and give me a new sense of life.

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