BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Roshara Sanders is living her dream life through food and teaching. But it wasn't always this way.
At age seven, the Bridgeport native fell in love with cooking, eventually attending Bullard-Havens Technical High School to learn the craft. It was during a class visit to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park that she knew that was where she belonged.
But, as the only child of a single mother growing up in the projects, money was an issue. Despite being accepted into CIA at 17, she enrolled in the U.S. Army and spent the last two years of her enlistment as a cook, following deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After her military service -- and despite dealing with PTSD -- she was able to re-apply and attend the CIA, where she was always at the top of her class.
In 2015, she competed on Food Network’s “Chopped,” where she won the $10,000 prize and donated her winnings to No Kid Hungry.
Today, Sanders is the Sous Chef at Compass Group Flik Hospitality in Bridgeport where being true to herself --- and remembering those less fortunate -- remains her top priority.
"Everything I do I have to ask, 'Is this going to be positive? Is this going to be life-changing? Is this going to be inspirational? Is this going to be love?'" she said.
"Everything I do has to be love first."
Education is a big part of her passion. "My American dream is to be a world renown food activist," she said. "I want to change people's minds about food."
To that end, she started a catering business with other chefs called Alkhemy. The mission, said Sanders, is to provide services to high-end clientele with the additional agenda of donating 10 percent of Alkhemy’s proceeds to one of four 501c non-for-profit organizations of the client’s choice.
The goal, according to the website, is to change the world through food, by bridging the gap between two classes of cultures that would never usually coexist.
Her efforts are paying off. Last week, she accepted the "Faces of Diversity American Dream Award" in Washington D.C. The award is sponsored by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and is regarded as one of the most prestigious award events in the restaurant and foodservice industry,
Go HERE to see Sanders story on YouTube.
Visit www.alkhemychefs.com/ for more details on the Alkemy Food Group.