As a young boy from Haiti, I never imagined the path life had in store for me. In the 1980s, the Duvalier regime and political turmoil had swept our homeland into chaos. I was thirteen when my parents sent me and my brother to live with our aunt in Miami. My family’s hope was to give us a better future in a safer place.
It took some time to adjust to life as a young immigrant. School started, and the language barrier was a real challenge. I learned to adapt and grow faster than most teenagers my age. My aunt would leave early for work on the bus. We cooked, got ready for school, and learned to be self-reliant. It wasn’t easy, but the values my family instilled in me, like the respect for my family, kept me on the right path.
My journey led me to college in Tallahassee, where my passion for cooking began to blossom. My love for cooking was rooted in my mother’s Haitian culinary artistry, perfecting these skills became my sanctuary. Once in Nashville, my dream took shape when I noticed there were no Haitian restaurants in the city. That’s when the idea of Chez Lama Haitian Cuisine was born, initially offering catering services. In 2016, I purchased a food truck, and my business has continued to bloom.
For me, thriving means pursuing my dream relentlessly, regardless of obstacles. I believe perseverance, consistency, and discipline are the keys to success. My journey wasn’t without support; organizations like the Tennessee Immigration Rights Coalition Center (TIRCC) and the local community played a significant role in helping me establish my business. My family, especially my little boy, is the center of my thriving joy. Their love and energy keep me going, and I look forward to each new day to witness his innocence and growth. I teach him we are all human beings, beyond the labels of where we come from.
I love entertaining people with food because it breaks down barriers. Food, in its simplicity, transcends language and culture, and the joy it brings fosters connections among people. My mission is to not just to feed the body but also the soul. I strive to be a blessing to someone every day, whether through a warm meal or a word of encouragement. Yes, I do have the freedom to thrive. My faith has given me the strength to embrace each day with hope.
To me, the word love is a universal language that knows no boundaries. It’s the key to solving the world’s problems, and it’s the driving force that brings positive change. Love is the only thing that can be given freely, and it’s the force that can unite us all.