Misty Williams Marshall was in the process of becoming a chef the last time the Sentinel spoke with her. Now she is working at the French Quarter Creole Bar & Grill and well on her way to fully realizing her dream: creating culinary masterpieces while bringing awareness about sickle cell disease.
On June 18, World Sickle Cell Day and Father’s Day will be honored at French Quarter for a special event. Marshall is one of the main chefs at French Quarter and spoke about the upcoming event.
“We’re going to have dinner, dancing, a live performance with a father-daughter dance and we’re going to have a raffle,” said Marshall.
Marshall says 10 percent of all proceeds will go to her foundation, the Misty Melony Sickle Cell Disease Foundation (MMSDF), which she started to help those suffering with sickle cell. As someone who suffers from the disease herself, Marshall has taken a vested interest in spreading awareness and advocating for better health guidelines for sickle cell patients.
“I come from a very big family—a family of 14, eight girls and six boys,” said Marshall. “I’m the only one with full blown sickle cell.”
It was having mentors, a close knit family and her relationship with God that inspired Marshall to give back. She decided to go into nursing and eventually started the MMSDF in 2011.
“I’ve been putting together fundraisers and bringing people together for a really great cause,” said Marshall.
“Just being able to partner up with a lot of people like the L.A. Sentinel [Sabriya’s Castle] for our blood drive every March and September for sickle cell awareness month has been amazing.”
Sickle cell disease happens when hemoglobin S changes the shape and red blood cells causing them to get stuck easily in the small vessel, breaking into bits and pieces that can interrupt the natural body’s blood flow. The problem decreases the amount of oxygen flowing to the body tissues as well. Sickle cell affects up to 100,000 Americans and it occurs in one of 500 African-American births according to reports.
Many sickle cell patients have painful episodes they call “crises” which can last hours or even days. Symptoms include fatigue, paleness, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath. Pain is usually felt in the long bones, back and chest.
None of these setbacks has stopped Marshall from pursuing her dream of becoming a chef. Currently enrolled at Orange Coast College and set to graduate in 2017, she has been busy creating culinary delights.
“Since last year, God has been amazing,” said Marshall. “I’ve worked for two famous restaurants and a famous chef and now I’m doing French Quarter where I’m one of the main chefs running the restaurant.
“To be honest just working in these restaurants, what we call the hard-knock way of learning, has been pretty awesome.”
Marshall describes her personal cuisine as a mix of Belizean cuisine and everything else. She loves to play around in the kitchen and create new combinations. Marshall spoke on why she went the culinary route as opposed to nursing full time.
“Bringing folks together for celebrations more than sadness is the best feeling,” said Marshall. “We’re still helping nutrition wise because I do look out for people’s health when I cook and also it’s bringing in revenue for the foundation.”
Also a percentage of every plate she makes catering goes to sickle cell. Marshall also gives a percentage of her own check from working to her foundation.
MMSDF does hospital visitations and has a Transitioning Program which consists of hand picking an adult physician for a patient with their parent or guardian. The MMSDF makes sure it’s the patient first, pediatric doctor second and third, the adult physician that will be working with the patient.
“We go through a lot,” said Marshall. “Someone like me, I have an orthopedist—six hip surgeries, then I had congestive heart failure that I’m getting over, then asthma—it’s different things.”
The program serves as a bridge for youth with sickle cell transitioning into adulthood. MMSDF makes sure parents and youth make the right connections in terms of the doctors and hospitals from which they will be seeking care.
“It’s good to let people know for one, it’s not a black [person’s] disease,” said Marshall. “We found out back in 2000 actually, over 5,000 Caucasians in Los Angeles had sickle cell disease and we have Latinos, who have overthrown African Americans in having sickle cell disease.
“So people in the community need to know so everybody can come out, support and give blood—we need it.”
The Father’s Day event will take place June 18 at French Quarter Creole Bar & Grill located at 16728 Bellflower Blvd in Bellflower, CA 90706. There will believe live entertainment featuring artist Ramon Perio. For more information, please visit www.frenchquarterbargrill.com or call (562) 804-0200.
For more information about the Misty Melony Sickle Cell Disease Foundation, please visit www.mmscdf.org or call (323) 902-7151. You can donate online on their website.