“Community is what inspires me. Being able to feed people clean, sustainable food and giving them access to healthy food is what really inspires me to keep going day to day."

Photo courtesy of @turnipthatbeet

The Fresh Local Feature spotlights local businesses and the communities that they are part of. In this local feature, we chat with Chef Alia Fahkry of Turnipthatbeet. Based in Oakland, they offer meal prep and cooking services for their clients so that they can go out and conquer the world.

Tell us about Turnipthatbeet and your background as a chef. How did you get started with Turnipthatbeet?

I have been in the food industry for about 17 years and in 2019 had the opportunity to open up a restaurant. Things didn’t pan out and I had already quit the day job supporting me. From there, I started working as the sous chef for two catering companies owned by two women of color. Then COVID hit and I was left with no work. The community was already familiar with 2 original products that I made: grass-fed bone broth and organic Sauerkraut. From there, I decided to take Turnipthatbeet to the next level. I started pushing my boundaries and created my own line of products, which is constantly evolving. Turnipthatbeet has solely been promoted through Instagram and having people share my work with their community. Turnipthatbeet is what has kept me going and helpedpush me through to be able to support myself.

Photo courtesy of @turnipthatbeet

Being based in Oakland, what do you like about being apart of the community there?

I’ve been in Oakland now for almost 9 years and have been able to build a community here, specifically within the queer POC space. During the pandemic, I feel like my network showed up and took care of me as an industry worker with no income. Support from word of mouth has also really helped keep me going and for that I am super grateful.

What inspires you with the food that you make?

Community inspires me. Being able to feed people clean, sustainable food and giving people access to healthy food is what really inspires me to keep going day to day. I think we take living in California and the abundance of food for granted. It is an absolute privilege to have access to that. And what better way than to share that with my community?

Photo courtesy of @turnipthatbeet

Tell us about your food. What are some of the things that you offer as a local chef?

I really look at sourcing food in ways that are sustainable to us and the environment. I shop local, buy organic and sustainable in season products for my clients. Most of my meals are gluten and dairy free. I’m not promoting this, that’s what my diet after years of struggling with digestion issues look like. This is what really motivates me and that’s what my clients get: clean, healthy meals that I also consume. If I can share that with one person, my work is done. But hopefully more than one :)

What's the best part about what you do?

In my own honest opinion, being middle eastern and understanding the role of food and how it is a key player in sharing experiences and making memories with family and friends. It’s a way of gathering and expressing love and care through food. To me, there is no better feeling in the world than expanding that from my culture to others around me.

Photo courtesy of @turnipthatbeet

What are some of your favorite fresh local vibes?

Some of my favorite fresh local vibes are mostly chefs that I look to: Chef Fernay of Minnie Bells, Chef Tu David, and Chef Reem. Another chef that I have recently met and that has been super inspiring to me lately is Chef Ayesha Abdullah.

Some of my favorites spots include The Well, Tacos Mi Rancho (Lake Merritt), Shangri La (vegan) and Addis (Ethiopian).

What's up next for Turnipthatbeet?

After working in the industry for years at some corporate companies that did not care about what the true meaning of having access to food is, it has been heartbreaking and nothing but detrimental to my shift in looking at how privileged it is to simply have access to food.

Being exposed to all the waste produced by the industry is what drives me to do better and show up to help teach and enlighten my community.

Next up for Turnipthatbeet is really focusing on building out the website. The website will help make my products more accessible and create an easier process to order. But most importantly making healthy food more accessible to marginalized communities in need. That means growing your own food and spreading knowledge about simple, healthy, accessible foods & recipes to my community.

Thanks for chatting with us Chef Alia! Visit @Turnipthatbeet to learn more about Chef Alia and their work as a local chef in the Bay Area.