Ashalah Michelle, a 14-year Founder of CookMeUpANotch – a company catered to pastry chef, author, and youth advocate. She is the creator of the Kid Chef Dreams pastry subscription box services and the Bake-Ology S.T.E.A.M curriculum. She has won numerous awards for entrepreneurial drive and her pastries. She does an array of
catering to events, baking classes, subscription box service, and public speaking.
Her Sous Chef Amari Lee is her 8-year-old brother. An aspiring business owner and chef. Ashalah’s gift if baking Amari Lee’s passion is cooking. His absolute favorite cooking experience was at William Sonoma last week as he prepared and plated chicken & waffles his specialty with his chef mentor and sister Chef Ashalah Michelle. Amari Lee is also in process of writing his book
Both these children are learning from their entrepreneurial mom the business end of their passion for baking and cooking. Ashalah is the author of “The City of Dreams Atlanta” and Amari Lee is also in process of writing his book regarding his love for cars, how they operate and S.T.E.A.M.
Hello and welcome to another episode of Dr. Nilda Business Foresight Show. Today I have with me a very amazing young lady who is 14-years-old. Ashalah Michelle is the founder of Cook Me Up a Notch. Her very own business. She is a pastry chef. She is an author and she’s a youth advocate. She’s the creator of Kid Chef Dreams Pasty subscription box. She has created bakeology and found it on STEAM. The five areas are Science, Technology Engineering, Art, and Math. I’m very excited to have her but in addition to that we also have her brother Amari Lee. Amari is her sous chef he is an 8-year-old who is also working with his sister. He is creating like the other side of the business. He loves to cook although he also bakes but he also loves to cook and he is an aspiring chef. We have with us two very amazing kids. I met these children a few weeks back at the at the STEM conference (STEM CON). In the beginning, I thought, because their mom was with them, this was the mom’s business and they were helping her. Shortly thereafter when I was a few minutes into the conversation I realized that it was their very own business. Although, of course, the mom oversees it they’re running their business. So, thank you for being here Michelle.
Thank you for having me.
Thank you, Amari.
Thank you for having me to.
So, tell me you’re 14 years old and you didn’t start this today so, when did you start this? When did you see that you really had something of an entrepreneur heart?
Well I grew up around a lot of people who inspired me. My grandma taught me how to bake and my mom had an organization. I helped with that so it just clicked. I put my love for baking and helping my mom’s business together and I created my own.
Wow so, you created your own. How old were you when you decided to create your own business?
I was twelve when I started my business but, my love for baking was when I was nine years old.
Okay so as a child, you were probably younger than that, you were already loving baking?
Then by nine years old you knew that this was something that you wanted to do?
At 12 years, old you knew you wanted your own business or would be starting your own business?
I didn’t know that I was going to be starting my own business. It just kind of happened. I was teaching myself how to bake other recipes. My grandma taught me how to make homemade biscuits. That was like wow I actually like to get in the kitchen and bake. I just started on YouTube and I looked up other recipes. I started selling them to the people at school. And my mom just said it looks like you have a business what are you going to call it. Then it just kind of happened.
Okay, so, I was at school. I was 12 years old and I never thought of selling anything to anybody truth be told. I bought stuff and I knew what I wanted. I had a whole list of things that I wanted my mom to get me because at 12 years old I didn’t have my own business. Here’s what’s fascinating to me how did you think you could sell your cupcakes? What made you think that selling them was the right thing to do? I think it’s excellent but at eight-years-old, nine-years-old, ten-years-old even twelve what made you think you can sell these?
I think my friends, kind of played a part in that because A they tasted my desserts and were like this is so good you should sell them. In my mind, I wasn’t really thinking about selling my desserts. They just said you should sell these they are really good I think people will buy them because our school lunch was really not good. I think they really needed something to eat.
So, they we’re willing to buy them?
So, at that point you priced them and you start selling it to them?
Yes. Everything started off a dollar. Then when I had my business I actually learned how to price our stuff what they were worth.
Okay. Amari, I have a question for you. You’re your sister’s sous-chef and I hear you’re really good. And I hear that you can also cook.
What fascinated me was you’re eight. Your sister started when she was twelve but, your eight. What made you want to be a part of this? Most eight-year-old kids just want to go out on their bikes or skateboarding. You’re actually involved in your sister’s business. What made you want to do this?
Me and Ashalah actually have something in common it started in school. We had this project and my teacher was like what do you want to be when you grow up? I had to
write down and draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grow up. I said coolidge academy. I like cars and all sorts of things like that.
Okay you enjoyed that but what else do you enjoy? Do you enjoy the cooking? What about cooking is fascinating to you?
Well when I say Ashalah baking I was like why can I not do that? So, I said can I be a part of your business too? And she was like yes.
Really? Okay. You do more than just the baking. What else do you do?
We had this event at Williams Sonoma and I was cooking some chicken and waffles. And you did it well and people liked it? People enjoyed what you were cooking?
So, you were like I think I’m onto something here?
Some people said I should be on MasterChef junior.
Oh, I totally agree. You guys have a business but then you’ve done so much more. One of the things that has fascinated me is there’s so many things. I have to tell you when I met you Ashalah we were exhibiting and we were setting up my table, I was speaking, and then I saw your table. But, then I realized that you were also speaking at the event. And I was like 14? I was like are you kidding me? And I was so fascinated by that because again I was a kid, we have kids in our family and I couldn’t understand. I was just so amazed.
You also wrote a book.
I go and I approach you and your book is The City of Dreams: Atlanta. Tell me about your dream? What is this about?
The City of Dreams: Atlanta is my book that me and my mom wrote together. It’s about a girl named Dream and it’s based off of me. She’s travel’s around Atlanta experiencing the food and culture. We started off with the first book in Atlanta because that’s where I’m from. But, we want to make more. We’re going to make more books around other countries to tell about their food and their culture as well.
Okay. Fantastic so, eventually do you want to learn how to make pastries from other countries also?
Yes. I’m learning just how I started my business. YouTube. I’m also looking at different people on YouTube to learn different ways of baking.
Okay. You started with Atlanta and the goal is to go state to state and country to country?
And to continue to write the stories based on this little girl whose name is dream?
I love it. Okay, so, you’re an author. I want to know about your business. Ashalah you have created a box. I’m very impressed with the box because in the box you put your curriculum. You don’t just bake cakes and sell the cakes made but, you’ve stepped it up a notch and you’re also giving them a box that you put together. Tell me about the box. What’s in the box? Who do you try to reach with this box and what is the intention of it?
With this box, we integrate bakeology which is a way to use STEAM to enhance the future careers in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. What we have inside the box are prepackaged ingredients and they’re prelabeled. So, they have a blue and pink. If your little one doesn’t know how to read yet they would know that all the blue ingredients go together and all the pink ingredients go together.
I’m blown away so you’re actually not just baking cakes. You’re actually educating kids in the areas of STEAM which are so incredible because right now that’s what they’re using. STEAM is really all the rage because that is technology and that’s the future. So, you’re doing that through baking. Bakeology is the system that you’re using when baking so you’re teaching children of all ages and of all nations. It’s really global because if they can’t read English they have the color coordination. They’ll see all the blues together and all the pink’s together. They’ll know how to put it together even if they can’t read English is that accurate?
Wow that’s amazing and every month they get it because you said it’s a subscription. Tell me about the subscription.
So, each month you get a different recipe. September’s box was red velvet. October’s box is our rainbow layered dream cake and it just goes on and on. That’s pretty much the subscription part.
With the subscription part I noticed that you’re also giving them tools.
Yes, so, September’s tool was either a whisk or a spatula. In next month’s box, which is October, it will be the measuring cups.
Then you’re not just teaching them you’re also giving them tools. Every month they’ll have tools. Let me ask you a question is this something that they can use like in a science project?
Of course, because of STEAM you also have in the bottom of the recipe cards they ask
Questions. They ask how did you use STEAM? On the actual recipe, it says Arts you need to decorate your cupcakes. So, at the bottom it says how did you use art when you were decorating your cupcakes. It’s so many different ways that you can use this box.
Amari what do you think of this?
I think it’s awesome.
She does the baking and she has the box with the baking. What are you creating your box with? That’s the one I want with the waffles and chicken. That’s coming up soon?
Okay because that’s something that you can absolutely teach. You’re giving them tools. You’re teaching them concrete information. That’s really critical because I think the biggest problem with STEAM, and that’s one of the things that I brought up when I was at the same conference when they were speaking, I said making it applicable. I think it’s so much easier for me learning math when I was able to apply it to things that I was interested in. For kids that are interested in cooking and who are interested in baking you’re bringing that component into them. Even if it’s a phase. Even if it’s a short time that they want to bake you’re giving them the opportunity to do that through this system through the box, and through teaching them. There’s so much to you my goodness. You’re a baker, you’re a teacher, you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re 14 years old. You have conquered the world. What are you going to do when you’re 30?
You guys have your little nametags and you have shirts and embroidered it’s so cool. The holidays are coming up tell me about how can people reach you? How can they reach you for pretty much anything? If you can sell them the cupcakes made or cakes made? Tell me about this. I know you have organic.
We have organic chocolate chip cookies. These are my famous cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookies they’re one of my best sellers and they’re amazing. So, with the question about how people can reach me on all social medias I am Cook Me Up a Notch. My website is cookmeanotch.com. You can order my book. You can get a kit if you subscribe to a kit. I forgot to mention that with the box and my book you also have an education component with it. So, in the back of my books we have comprehension questions and we also have STEAM questions in the book as well. So, we partner my book and my kit. They kind of go hand to hand. Everything kind of goes together.
I have to tell you this is an unbelievable book. You have kind of conquered the world at such a young age. I’m looking at this and I’m fascinated. Tell me about school. Where do you go to school? Not necessarily where but what are you learning in school and what is your goal for your future?
The school I go to is middle school and we are trying to start getting STEAM classes in our school. I was going to volunteer and teach my curriculum or actually go into the school. I’m trying to go into the schools with my curriculum Bakeology and teach STEAM in the school.
Amari, I have a question for you where do you see yourself in the future? I know you have a lot of plans and there’s a lot of things that I’m hearing about you.
I want to be a chef when I grow up and I also want to have a clothing line called Coolidge Academy.
But you’re also writing a book I hear. I don’t know rumors have it tell me about the book.
Well I’ve got my business I want to teach other kids what is a car, how it’s made, what makes a car drive.
Okay and you’re also going to be using the STEAM component?
I want to be you guys. I want to go back, be this age and be able to be to have those kinds of dreams and make them come true. This is unbelievable. Both of you are really a powerhouse. When are, you going to retire your parents?
Soon. I mean I plan on it before I finish college.
And with the cars that he was talking about it’s a lot of engineering and math all build up in cars. So, we obviously really have a lot of STEAM going on it’s just amazing.
I think it’s fascinating. You guys blow my mind blown. This is amazing. Again, if people want to buy the cakes from you and they want, is this a certain age limit?
No, it’s for all ages. I mean I feel if you like to eat then you’ll love this box. I like to eat and I love my box.
You love your boxes and everything because you’re giving them so much in these boxes. You’re teaching them stuff yet they’re able to bake.
And like I said like with all ages it’s color coded and it’s pre-measured so all you have to do is dump them in and follow the correct colors. With my book, it has a lot of history in it. So, if you love history but you really don’t like learning it’s a really fun way to learn history. In my book, we got Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, a whole bunch of other people, black influential people, African-American influential people.
So, you’re bringing history. You’re bringing in STEAM. You’re teaching. You’re cooking. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re selling them a box. You’re selling organic foods and baking. You’re bringing in the STEAM through math engineering and science with the cars. You guys make me look bad because it took me so long to get here. I’m telling you I am fascinated I am truly fascinated. I want to thank you because I know you guys are busy and that you’re in school. Amari, you have a lot going on but you guys took the time to come here.
We are very glad we came.
Thank you so much for coming so I’ll be seeing you soon. I’m going to have you back when you have that book okay? When do you think, you’ll be done with the book?
Maybe around next year.
All right and I know that it’s going to take time because you’re bringing in all of those other components with the science. So, it’s not just a book about cars but you’re actually bringing in an educational piece to it. Amazing I love it. All right guys thank you so much for being here. Okay all right guys this is the end of this episode. I look forward to seeing you again next week with another episode with another amazing person. Bye.
#Interview with Ashalah Michelle & Amari Lee Founder of Cook It Up A Notch”
#AshalahMichelle #Amari Lee #CookMeUpANotch # CookMeUpANotchThroughSTEAM #Bakeology