It’s a fitting coincidence that Chef Rashad Armstead, age 31, was born on December 25th. Just as Christmas is symbolized by celebration and the sharing of gifts, Chef Rashad is known for uniting his culinary gifts with an expanded celebration of community.
At a young age, Chef Rashad’s interest in cooking took shape at his mother’s side in the kitchen. DNA was definitely at play. He is the great-grandson of Chef Sarah Rawls, who was herself a restaurateur, cookbook author, and one of the first black women to host a televised cooking show. Sarah’s memory provides ongoing inspiration to him, “There was a piece of my mind and heart that was brought down to me from my family, my mother, my father, my grandmother, my friends — and I brought it into the kitchen.”
Widely renowned for his 2019 Food Network victory as a “Chopped” champion, Chef Rashad’s commitment to earning his professional credentials began at the age of sixteen. As soon as he was able to obtain a worker’s permit, the Chef secured a dishwasher position in the cafeteria at Doctor’s Hospital in Modesto, California. From that auspicious start, he earned an Associate’s degree from the Institute of Technology/School of Culinary Arts and then moved to Los Angeles to become a lead line cook at Blu La Café. He returned to Modesto to work as a cook at The Stratford at Beyer Park, and more importantly, to pursue his own culinary vision. During this time, he founded Artistic Taste 7 – offering catering services, personal chef services and specialty menu development to meet the individual needs of his clientele. With Artistic Taste 7, his entrepreneurial acumen had found its start.
In 2011, Chef Rashad set his sights on relocating to Oakland, California, to further his own ambitions in the kitchen. Soon thereafter, the Chef secured his first contracted client, Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority at UC Berkeley. Within the month, three fraternities at UC Berkeley had also contracted the services of Chef Rashad. In addition to his UC Berkeley-based clients, his roster included private individuals living in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C.
The Chef’s next endeavor was the 2017 launch of his first restaurant – Crave BBQ, specializing in southern style barbeque. This proved to be the impetus for expanding his culinary vision beyond West Oakland and into the surrounding communities. During the same year, he founded the Black Food Collective, based in Oakland. Inspired by his sense of community, the collective unites and supports Black-owned food-related businesses. Chef Rashad’s goal is to encourage and secure financial investments for promising ventures so they’re better able to realize ongoing success. Consequently, Crave Restaurant Group, Inc. was founded in 2018 as a restaurant development company that focuses on creating concepts with food, people, and community as its core value and purpose.
An advocate of Pop-Up eateries, the Chef has reintroduced his Crave BBQ experience at various Bay Area locales, including a recent late night eatery at Level 13 in downtown Oakland. With his passion for strengthening community bonds through shared culinary experiences, Chef Rashad Armstead continues to expand upon his cooking legacy. “I’m ready to show the world what I’m made of.”
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