On a recent Wednesday night in Stone Mountain, Shiona “Shi” Curry cooks dinner for her family, like she does three times a week. She meticulously sprinkles seasoning, scoops steaming heaps of jasmine rice, and places stalks of asparagus until the plates look as if they were ordered from a restaurant.
Curry is only 12 but has already been cooking half her life. Though she is vegan, the self-described rebellious middle child developed an early fascination with chefs of all sorts. “I always found happiness in watching cooking shows and preparing foods, so that’s what I did,” says Curry, whose favorite dish to make is vegetarian pomegranate chicken. “My mom and dad saw this and began to support me by buying ingredients and later helping me start my business.”
Curry’s mom, Celeste, recalls those early family dinners: “She would have to take hers and set it up a particular way. She would plate it.” Curry watched Mom cook and combined family recipes with what she saw chefs make on TV. Her family used to question her adventurous ingredients; now, they look forward to her Jamaican-Asian stir-fry and vegan pizza muffins. “A lot of parents say they can’t get their children to eat asparagus, but my friends love my asparagus,” Curry says.
Curry has amassed a loyal adult following. One of her dishes was featured for a day last year at Buckhead’s Café Sunflower and sold out in two hours. At Atlanta’s Vegan Food and Tea Festival, she impressed crowds with a live demo of her raw carob Almond Joy bars. In June, she released S.N.A.C. it up!, her first cookbook. This past October she gave a copy to President Obama, who was on a campaign stop. “I didn’t write my first book until I was 33 years old!” he replied.
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