I created this platform because I wanted to showcase women who are doing great things but were not given the recognition I felt they deserved.
But also, without mentioning it, I was opened to suggestions for women to interview as well because I don’t know everyone.
And this is how I was introduced to the last woman I interviewed.
We had an amazing conversation and her rise to the position she’s in now is definitely something worth watching.
For the last Woman Crushing It Wednesday… Season 1… I introduce to you to Yasmin Thomas!
So my first question asked that to everybody that comes on here. And here it is. Every superhero has an origin story. What is yours?
So what's my origin story?
I am from a low income household. From a mixed family of cultures. I grew up in Toronto, for the most part, in project housing complex. I had a very happy childhood. I just always loved food. I was always in the kitchen with my grandmother and my mom cooking. I always just had a love for food. Even though I didn't like to eat actually.
They used to have a problem with me eating when they put me in daycare. They gave up with me. I would not eat. They thought something was wrong with me. I never used to want to eat. So my story with my passion for cooking started by accident. It started with my mom who was a very hard worker. She was in school and working at the same time. One day, while she left me and my sister home by ourselves, I wanted chicken. I was 7 years old, but I was hungry and I wanted chicken. I I didn't know anything. I didn't know how to cook chicken, but I was hungry. So I started to season it. The cap fell off of the black pepper and dropped a lot of it on the chicken. I kept at it and put the chicken in the oven but I didn't know if I cooked it properly. So I just gave up and hid it inside the microwave. My mom came home earlier than usual and was cussin up a storm asking who did this. I thought I was gonna get in trouble. She asked me if I made the chicken. I told her I did. She said that it was really good, but I should have cooked it through more in the middle. She gave me a complement that stuck in my head. She said that I seasoned it very well. From then, I just always wanted to learn how to cook. I've always been in the kitchen with either my mom, my aunt's or my mom's family. Her family used to have a restaurant in Guyana. Which tells you that my family is full of cooks. My cooking is based off of just being in Toronto. It's a fusion of all different types of foods. From what I grew up with lots of Caribbean background but also lots of American soul food because I have so much family in the States.
So you inherited this gift. But you got into it accidentally which makes for a great story.
It was literally an accident. I wanted to be either a journalist or a pediatrician when I was younger. Those were the two things that I always used to say. I wanted to be a pediatrician because I had the best pediatrician ever so I used to want to be a pediatrician. I wanted to be a children's doctor. And then when I got a little older, I was more involved in the arts, I wrote poetry and all of that type of stuff. My focus changed to wanting to be a journalist, because I just thought it was just a cool job. I wanted to interview people. Then I went to school for Child & Youth Work.
That’s a shift!
Honestly, my mom was pushing me to pick something and I just went for the Child & Youth Work program. But it was so depressing, seeing all these kids and the problems they were going through. Plus, at the same time, I had just gotten pregnant with my first child. I doubted whether I could do this job while I had to bring a child into this world. So I dropped out of college. I disappointed everybody. But I had to deal with things the best way I knew how while dealing with a complicated pregnancy. So I gave birth and took a break from school for about a year. My aunt approached me and suggested that I go to culinary school. I went to George Brown College for about a year. During that time, my step father passed away from a rare form of ALS. The stress of motherhood and dealing with grief had become too much and I ended up dropping out of college again. For the next few years, I worked regular jobs. I was cooking plates of food on the side for extra income, not knowing it would become a full fledged business. And now, here I am. I have a store now. I got the store just before COVID.
Must have been hard!
It was very hard and it still drives me crazy. The store is on Keele and Eglinton, in Little Jamaica. It took me a little over a year to renovate it to my liking. And then COVID happen. So basically, I lost a lot of revenue due to the fact that I was already booked for a lot of things. And at this point in 2020, we don't know what this is. So everybody's canceling. And a lot of things were uncertain for me because I had heard horror stories where people didn't get back their money. I gave back deposits to everybody. And then all of our potential tentative events got canceled. So it was very, very difficult during COVID. Trying to pick up the pieces now. It's just really weird, you know?
Wow. You’ve answered a lot of questions already.
Oh shit! (laughter)
(laughter) Oh, it's all good. It's all good. Let's say that 7 year old girl was to see you now, what would she say?
Man, she’d say keep on dreaming, keep on believing. I actually manifested this, even though I say, I didn't know that this was going to happen, I actually was, kind of manifesting this. I've always been a daydreamer. Since I was a kid, I've been a daydreamer. I always used to say that I wanted to have a successful catering business. I wanted to have a store. I wanted people to respect me as a business owner.
What is the misconception people have about you?
There's a lot but... That I'm either sensitive or mean. I'm actually neither. I'm just like a very mellow laid back person. But people either think that I'm too sensitive, or people either think that I'm just rude. People hate what they don't understand. It's not making me lose sleep at night. (laughter)
(laughter) What would you like people to know about you?
That's a really good question. Um, that I'm a boss. It took me a while to demand my respect in this field. Before I go to the store, I faced many challenges. I would be cooking from my mom's home. I wasn't living with my mom. But I cooked from her home because she had an actual house and I was living in a little tiny two bedroom apartment. The whole ordeal got very annoying to me because we butted heads and got in each other’s way. I ended up renting commercial kitchens after getting my business registered and food handlers, but that came with its own set of problems. I would get turned down so many times, especially if the commercial kitchen was owned by a European white person. That would happen, after I came to inspect the place. After they saw me, I would then hear that they were booked all of the sudden. Also, I used to have a sous chef that used to work with me. Every time we used to do on site catering, everybody would praise the sous chef and no one would acknowledge me. But one thing I can respect about him because in front of my face when I was there, he would take them to me and let them know that I was the chef. They never would think that because, you know, the chef world is a male dominated world.
That's kind of funny. You know, it's funny, because they always tell women to stay in the kitchen and do the cooking, but the chef world is male dominated. Okay, this is the final question. Let's say you meet an 18 year old Yasmin Thomas. What advice would you give her?
Know your worth. And demand your respect. One thing I like about myself is that I still am a little bit of the 18 year old Yasmin. Because I dive into stuff headfirst. I'm just that type of person. Like what's the worst that can happen? I'm very irresponsible sometimes, but sometimes it works in my favor (laughter). I think that a little bit of my risk taking has helped me with my adult life in terms of having a business.