By Paul Marsh
Los Angeles is widely known as “The City of Angels.” After speaking with Kayla Greer, aka Chef Kay Kay, I can attest to that. Chef Kay Kay has put together an impressive roster of A-List celebrity clients, ranging from Diddy and Drake to Jhene Aiko, Justin Bieber, and the late Nipsey Hussle (R.I.P.). A native of Crenshaw, often a hotbed for various forms of crime, Chef Kay Kay was able to make it out of her neighborhood and into the limelight that follows legitimate LA stars. While she remains humble and modest, Chef Kay Kay is definitely a bona fide star with plenty of room to blossom into a superstar in her own right. Read on below to find out why.
Q: You’re a native of Crenshaw. What’s your favorite part of living in Los Angeles?
A: You don’t have to leave LA to do everything you’ve ever wanted to do. You can experience anything you want here. It’s a place where you can live a riveting life.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a chef?
A: I was seventeen years old, about to leave high school, and was having that conversation with myself about what I wanted to do with my life, evaluating what I wanted to do with my future. I decided I wanted to go to culinary school and be a private chef for celebrities.
Q: What is your favorite thing to make?
A: It varies. I can become kind of moody when it comes to food because I have such a right brain. One of my favorite things to make is curry chicken. Trevor Ariza’s mom taught me how to make it; he’s one of my clients. His mother is from Turks and Caicos. I also make a really good kale Caesar salad. My favorite thing to make is probably new dishes with the ingredients I use. I feel like we use the same ingredients cooking, but you can do so many different things with them.
Q: If there is such a thing, what is a typical day like for you?
A: Most days are unpredictable. 9/10 times I’m working first thing in the morning. From there I may have some phone calls I have to make, maybe some deals I have to close, I might have to do some invoices, I may get a random call asking me to come to the studio or someone’s house to cook. I usually go to the gym every day during the week. It’ll probably end with dinner with friends somewhere or me getting home around midnight, going to sleep, and waking up at 7 to do it all over again the next day. My days are very full and unpredictable.
Q: What country outside of the U.S. has been your favorite to go to/cook in?
A: One of my favorite places off the top of my head is London. I liked London. It was really dope. I felt good and really at home there. I recently went to Turk’s and Caicos with a client in December. The house they had came with a chef that I worked with. He was of Filipino descent. It was one of my best cooking experiences because we worked really well together and vibed well in the kitchen.
Q: How’d the idea for Saffron, your chef staffing agency, come about?
A: I get really busy in the Summertime. For example, two summers ago, I had about four full-time clients. My days were crazy, I was going from this client to this client. It was non-stop. I felt like I was running myself into the ground. I want to be able to accommodate all of my clients. I really care about and want the best for them. The private chef industry has gotten really saturated because of social media like Instagram and people thinking it’s more accessible than it really is. So, if I take the time to vet chefs that I think will work well with this high level of clientele, I can still accommodate them while giving opportunities to other people. I can share my gift, especially through uplifting younger chefs who don’t know the ropes that well. And that’s how Saffron came about. It was me wanting to accommodate everybody. I just want to make everyone happy.
Q: I noticed some of your clients are high-profile A-listers such as Diddy, Drake, and Nipsey Hussle (R.I.P.). How did you get into the celebrity chef space?
A: That kind of goes back to that first question. Living in LA, you have access to so many different things and people. All of my clientele have come to me by word of mouth. Nipsey, for example, and I are from the same neighborhood. I knew him already from just being outside hahaha. When he got to where he was at, we were able to work together. People like Drake and Diddy have been all word of mouth. I think that you’re only as good as your last performance. Everybody likes to speak highly of me and refer me to good people.
Q: Who’s been your favorite celebrity to work with and why?
A: I have two. My two favorite celebrities are Michael Crabtree from the 49ers and Nipsey. Mike is like my brother. He’s cool, one of the people I started with at the beginning. Him and Drake were my biggest clients at the time. Mike has taught me so much. He’s been so loyal to me. He’s never been with anyone else. He just was a good person for me to come with in the industry. And then Nipsey because we were from the same neighborhood. His respect levels, loyalty, the conversations we had. I think both of them are kind of similar in how we communicated. They both really talked to me a lot and were very interested in me as well as what I was doing.
As well as Jhene [Aiko]. I always forget Jhene. I love Jhene. That’s my girl!
Q: Is there anything left cooking wise you’d like to accomplish?
A: Right now I’ve been working on a bunch of things. I’ve been working on products and trying to grow the Saffron Agency. I think that everything I want to accomplish will be in the field of food, it’ll just be different avenues at this point. I’ve been working on my seasoning line that’s going to be my signature flavor profile. I think people are going to love my seasonings and it can help people a lot with cooking and feeling more confident in the kitchen. So definitely my products and just growing the Saffron Agency which isn’t easy, but I’m working on it. Anything that comes my way that feels good I’m open to. I’m open to opportunities as they come in.
Q: As someone who also believes they’re destined for the top, do you have any advice for me and others on how to make our own dreams a reality?
A: I think the number one thing is to keep your mental strength, stay confident, and have faith. And truly, truly, truly believe in yourself because if you really don’t believe in yourself, that opens up space for doubt and everything else negative to come in. So, I think always staying positive, really focusing on your one thing, and going hard and giving your all to that one thing until you master it. Then you can start trying to do everything else. But I think keeping your mental strength and staying positive are the most important things. Wise words from one of Los Angeles’ original angels. You can follow her company here https://www.chefkay.com/ and her Instagram account here https://www.instagram.com/chefkaykay/. Be warned though – both feature dishes and recipes destined to awaken fierce appetites in even the most conservative food connoisseurs.