When Lavonna Quick learned to cook, she was 13 years old. Now in her 30s, the chef and owner of Boujee Soul Food Truck smiles when she reflects on her early memories in the kitchen.
“Back then, my stepmom had a rule,” Quick said. “She would only cook on Sundays. If we wanted anything else, we had to make it ourselves.”
Today, Quick is feeding her community and making a name for herself as a chef, but her journey didn’t come without struggle. And her story is one of redemption.
Hard times don’t last forever
At 17, Quick got into trouble while pursuing her college degree, which cost her six years of her freedom.
“When I went to prison, I was still a child,” Quick said. “A lot of people say it’s bad to go to prison, but it’s a place where you’re supposed to be rehabilitated, and I spent my time doing just that.”
During her time in prison, Quick said she focused on what her future would look like, but when she was released at 23, it was difficult to find a career opportunity.
Quick, who has face tattoos, said her appearance made it difficult to get ahead. She found work at temp agencies to sustain herself but realized she was applying herself in the wrong places and returned to the place she once thrived: the kitchen.
She began working as a dishwasher for Triple Crown Caterers. There, she said a conversation with one of the owners changed her perspective and the trajectory of her life.
“She told me to come see her, and she hired me,” Quick said. “I couldn’t believe it because I was just the dishwasher in the kitchen. From that point on, I was like, ‘I have to figure out my way.’”
After that, Quick’s perseverance led to her work at various restaurants in Charlotte, including Stoke, Merchant and Trade and Angeline’s. She also traveled with Kimpton Hotel’s culinary team and worked on Indaco’s opening team in 2019 as a junior sous chef.
In 2020, the pandemic placed Quick out of work due to her compromised immune system.
“I was angry because I put so much time into everything I’d done up until that point,” Quick said. “That’s when I decided to do it on my own.”
In 2021, Quick launched Quick’s Catering, and in 2022, she expanded the brand to become Boujee Soul Food, where the motto is a “Quick, sophisticated take on soul food classics.”
In spring 2023, Quick successfully opened her food truck, In September 2023, Quick decided to take and then further expanded to operations at The City Kitch, located at 2200 Thrift Road.
“Our menu at The City Kitch is bigger than the food truck where people can still get the wontons, wings, and chopped cheese they love,” Quick said. “At The City Kitch, we’re doing more soul options like meatball subs and pork shanks.”
And for brunch lovers like Quick, lemon pound cake french toast, oxtail hash, red velvet chicken and waffles, cajun shrimp and grits, smoked gouda bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, and more are all on the menu.
Today, Quick is grateful for every “no” that, in time, turned into a “yes.”
A family affair
Now, Quick said, her greatest accomplishment in business is being able to work with family.
“Everyone on my team is family, literally and figuratively,” she said. “My mom preps everything. My wife and I create the menus, and my sister-in-law makes the desserts.”
She said she wants customers to taste the love that goes into their food.
For Quick, entrepreneurship has given her the freedom to travel, work with family and dream big. She said she hopes to one day have her own restaurant.
“There’s still a lot of things I’m learning through this process,” Quick said. “[As I expand], I want to go out into the world, share my story, and encourage people to never give up.”
Boujee Soul Food is open at The City Kitch Tuesday through Friday with regular menu service, and Saturdays for all-day brunch.
To keep up with Boujee Soul Food truck, follow Quick and the team at @boujee_soulfood on Instagram and at their website, realboujeesoulfood.com.