For years, Tiwanna Scott-Williams led a double life. Working as a registered cardiothoracic nurse by day, she indulged in her love of cooking at night and built a successful business, PearlFlower Catering. In 2018, she took part in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse’s Launch Test Kitchen program and left nursing full time to focus on catering. It went so well, she opened Pearl’s Kitchen as a food stand there in 2019 before the pandemic shutdowns left it in limbo. Staying true to her history of reinventing herself, Pearl’s Kitchen recently opened in the Sauce the City Food Hall in Ohio City. Here are five things to know about the innovative chef.
Her grandmas inspire her.
Scott-Williams is heavily influenced by her family, especially her grandmas whose names were the inspiration for PearlFlower Catering and Pearl’s Kitchen. Her grandma Pearline was the cook of the family, while grandma Delores Flowers was an entrepreneur with her own upholstery business. “Becoming a chef was taking this thing that I grew up around: loving good, home-cooked food and using this gift and passion to ultimately turn it into a business,” she says.
Cooking is caring.
At face value nursing doesn’t seem to have much to do with cooking. But Scott-Williams says it was a natural progression. “Both are service professions, taking care of people and providing comfort, and I think in the type of cuisine that I love to cook, it connects to a feeling of happiness and makes you feel good,” she says. Comfort food is her comfort zone. Scott-Williams primarily focuses on comfort food, which she says is more of a feeling than a specific food. “It’s mac ’n’ cheese, baked chicken with gravy, bread pudding, any of those things that connect to warmth and goodness,” she says. “It’s simple in preparation, not fancy, it’s not rocket science. It’s just food that has a whole lot of love in it.”
She values quality over quantity.
With a referral-based business, one of Scott-Williams’ principles is to never sacrifice the quality of her cooking. “I’m not going to compromise the ingredient choices and quality so that I can make more money, and if it requires a higher price tag it requires a higher price.”
She doesn’t get too fancy.
Pearl’s Kitchen focuses on food with a Cajun-Southern spin, but Scott-Williams keeps it simple. “I have my favorite seasoning blend that I create. I put a little paprika on everything and I use a lot of fresh herbs,” she says. “A little bit of everything: a little love, a little sweetness, a little spice. Think about your favorite home chef — that’s me.”
If you enjoyed this story, dig in to the rest of May's Best Restaurants issue below.
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