Chef Lachelle Cunningham has left Breaking Bread to focus on her own kitchen
Kenzie O'Keefe | Editor
After several years of being the head chef of Breaking Bread Café and Catering, Lachelle Cunningham has left the Northside restaurant.
The locally acclaimed chef says she grew immensely from her experience at the community-focused breakfast and lunch spot and made many connections there. She says she is leaving because she didn’t have the capacity to entrepreneurially position herself for “greater things.”
“There’s no bad blood, but I did have to cut the cord completely,” she said in late May.
Now that she’s no longer with Breaking Bread, Cunningham, along with her business partner Alysha Bellamy, have relaunched Chelles' Kitchen, the catering business Cunningham started in 2011.
Cunningham is known for cooking soul food that thwarts its unhealthy stereotypes and fuses it with global flavors. She focuses on “nutritional healing” and has a preference for plant-based meals. She says she wants to “normalize healthy eating in the community.”
Cunningham says she thinks best under pressure and prefers to cater large events, often for thousands of people and occasionally for celebrities like Randy Moss. Someday she’d like to make a meal for Barack Obama or, maybe, Erykah Badu.
But despite enjoying high profile, upscale catering gigs, her mission is to impact and educate the average person through her food. She can be found all summer at community events, like the Camden Farmers Market, and says to keep an eye out for upcoming pop-up events.
Though the leadership team at Appetite for Change says they’re sad to see Cunningham leave Breaking Bread, they’re excited for her new endeavors. “We’re honored to have played a role in training/development which we know will follow her to take the next steps in her career,” they said in an email to North News.
As of mid-June, the café did not have a new executive chef, but the AFC leadership team says they’re “excited” about their kitchen manager, Imani, Cunningham’s mentee. “She’s young, brilliant, and has so much potential in the industry, and we’re excited for some new summer recipes,” they said.
North High intern Myesha Powell helped conduct our interview with Cunningham and Bellamy at Tori 44, the new ramen restaurant in Victory neighborhood. Powell is a self-described picky eater and wanted to share her thoughts on dining with chefs at a meal that pushed the limits of her taste buds. Here is her story, in her own words:
I decided to tag along to an interview with Lachelle Cunningham and Alysha Bellamy that was conducted at Tori 44 – they suggested going there. I had never eaten there before; the place had just opened up. I love food, but I’m a picky eater. When we walked in, I liked the set up, but it felt like I walked into a chill box. We got seated and looked through the menu, trying to figure out what to order. It was hard to do. They didn’t have any pictures on the menu to help, and I didn’t know any of the dishes. I tried a squid ink ramen with clams first. I liked the clams but was not a big fan of the ink noodles. I felt like I was chewing a rubber band. Then I tried a chicken rice dish. It was decent, but the chicken tasted like the seasoning was put on after it was cooked and it wasn’t as juicy as I thought it was going to be. The black sauce that came with it tasted like an orange peel. I wasn’t really feeling the meals that I picked, but Bellamy gave me a piece of the duck leg she ordered, and it was amazing! If I go back there again, I’ll get the duck leg for sure!