I’ve heard many versions of the phrase, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” Sometimes it refers to travel, other times experience and other times happiness.
As I conclude this series from farm to family table, this phrase comes to mind about food. After all, food truly is about the journey. From the land and animal caregivers to the preparers and packers; the nutritionists drafting labels and the truck drivers transporting it. I have a lot of respect for the work that goes into the food we eat, and the people specialized in each step of the journey. Because of these people, I have delicious, consistent, safe food available just down the street in my local grocery store.
So, I’ll spend this last Q&A sitting down with Chef Alexa McKay to talk about her role in the journey from farm to family table.
Q: Tell me a little bit about what inspires you most about being a chef for Tyson Foods.
I’ve always been inspired by serving others; I approach my role as a chef with a servant heart. But most recently, being a new mom has been my biggest inspiration! As a first-time mother, I’m learning that things can get hectic really quickly (I’m sure most moms can agree). I want to feel good about the food I serve my family even when I’m in a time crunch, and I want to give other moms the reassurance that there are healthy options out there that they can feel good about putting on their tables in a pinch. I love being part of a team that develops delicious, quality products that make meal time decisions easier for people.
Q: Typically, when I hear the word “chef,” I think of a chef at a restaurant, not a food company. Do you think people would be surprised to know that there are actual chefs behind the products they buy at the grocery store?
Absolutely! Just the other day I was purchasing some of our meal kits at a grocery store. The woman in line behind me said, “you’ll like those—we’ve tried them all and have never been disappointed.” It was such a surreal moment to encounter someone who enjoyed a product that I helped create; a product she liked so much that she would recommend it to another customer. Little did she know, I’ve provided the culinary inspiration behind every single kit.
I will never forget this special moment when I was able to see firsthand how impactful our products can be. As a chef at Tyson Foods, we’re always developing foods with the customer in mind. But in this moment, I was just a mom, talking to another mom about the foods we enjoy serving to our families.
Q: Apart from helping others feel good about the way they feed their families, how would you describe your own farm to family table journey?
When I think about my own table, I think about our family culture and legacy. Even though my daughter is only 16 months old now, as she grows up, I want to make sure she understands her culture, cooking techniques, and knows what our favorite family recipes are. I think it’s important to pass along the traditions of my family to my daughter.
Q: It sounds like cooking has played a big role in your family. Was this part of what influenced you to become a chef?
The women in my family are amazing cooks. When I was little, I loved watching my mom and grandmother make tortillas. The care and craftsmanship they put into something so simple was inspirational. There was so much love rolled into every tortilla.
I remember always thinking that I wanted to do something where I could craft with my hands. I wanted to be able to bring something to life with my hands and that’s what I love most about cooking. And I enjoy cooking as much as I enjoy being creative in other ways – like oil painting or playing music.
Q: What’s your favorite dish to cook for your own family?
I love to make fresh pasta in all shapes and sizes! I’m excited because my daughter is getting old enough that she can help me make it. It’s a tradition I look forward to passing along to her.
If you missed my earlier entries along the journey From Farm to Family Table, check them out here: