Raised in a family that often gathered for social meals, Amanda J. Smith picked up an interest in cooking at an early age. Later, she cultivated her talents at Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando and studied under chefs such as CulinAero's Doug Kieley, who she names as a mentor. After deciding to launch her own business, Amanda outfitted a mobile catering trailer with a gourmet kitchen capable of food preparation onsite at parties or during highway drag races.
"I have everything I need at my fingertips to create all kinds of fresh, flavorful meals," she told Southern Family magazine this year. Those meals range from bacon-wrapped beef tenderloins and ornate spreads of sliced ham to petite cheesecake bites topped with berries. Amanda also sets up culinary stations at events so guests can select their own hors d'oeuvres or sample sweets arranged around a chocolate fountain.
Jernard Wells learned to cook by watching his father, who prepared dinner for his six children every night. Inspired by his father and encouraged by his mother, Jernard started his own catering business while in high school and had immediate success. He made boxed lunches that were a hit with local construction workers; by the age of 22 he had opened two restaurants. Wells has since built on that success quite a bit?he?s put together presentations at large shows alongside Barack Obama and Paula Deen, authored two books, and made appearances on Food Network and Lifetime shows.
Today, Wells develops recipes for brands such as Whole Foods and sells specialty spices such as sweet tea chicken seasoning with black tea leaves and sage, and southern barbecue seasoning with smoked sea salt and paprika. He also extends his love of cooking to others though classes that focus on a range of topics?you can learn how to prepare quick appetizers, make Italian pasta sauces, or gracefully lick a plate clean.