Bryce Fluellen, aka Chef Bryce, isn’t the average “now-a-days” chef seen on television or in a fancy, high-brow restaurant—he’s here in the community changing lives one bite at a time. For over 20 years, he has utilized his culinary skills to make a significant impact in the community.
“It’s some of the best work I’ve ever done,” said Chef Bryce “working with the kids and their excitement and disrupting their world.”
Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chef Bryce started working as a waiter in restaurants while attending college. He loved the industry and gained experience working under chefs and honing management skills. A graduate of Chef Eric’s Culinary School of French Cuisine, Chef Bryce eventually moved to the West Coast.
He was working in the Bay Area when he got the opportunity to work in Los Angeles with former Laker turned business magnate, Magic Johnson. Chef Bryce held positions as district manager, licensed stores for Starbucks, managed partnerships with Target, Vons, Marriott, and Albertsons. He also served as Director of Operations where he assisted in developing and managing a multi-million dollar joint venture portfolio with Starbucks Coffee Company, Loews Theatres, and T.G.I.Friday’s.
After a couple of years serving as director of operations for Magic Johnson Enterprises , Chef Bryce started working towards opening his own restaurant but an unfortunate turn of events would delay that dream.
“The economy crashed, so a lot of people that were getting ready to invest stopped answering the phones,” said Chef Bryce.
A mentor would suggest the idea of starting a catering business, which made a lot of sense. Chef Bryce went to culinary school and later started his own catering company. One of his clients was the Urban League, where he would do a health collaborative breakfast for the organization. Catering with the Urban League opened the door to Chef Bryce catering for the American Heart Association (AHA).
He currently serves as instructor/educator for AHA’s Cook with Heart Los Angeles, South L.A., East L.A. Long Beach and Santa Ana programs focusing on youth, in school grades 3-12. For the past 3 years, Chef Bryce has been empowering youth to make healthy food choices with hands-on cooking instruction and nutritional education, personifying AHA’s mission of building healthier lives. He is the first culinary expert to hold the position for a national non-profit organization.
“It’s cooking skills combined with nutritional education,” said Chef Bryce. “[The] kids, they get the right foundation, they get some healthy habits early,”
In the program, Chef Bryce takes students through a step-by-step journey from agriculture to how to prepare healthy meals for a better life. He utilizes fresh ingredients, mostly whole foods that provide energy, support growth and combat obesity.
“Research shows if you can prepare your meals at home, you’re likely to be eating a lot healthier,” said Chef Bryce. “We also talk about sweet/sugar beverage consumption, to try and lower that and really start them to be compassionate about consuming fruits and vegetables.”
He also serves as program manager enhancing curriculum to engage teachers, parents, community volunteers, and school administrators. He also broadens financial support by securing partners and sponsorships with companies like Whole Foods Market, Los Angeles Dept. of Health and is a member of the L.A. Food Policy Council. Chef Bryce is also the founder of Kids At The Table and was the recent celebrity chef on the Soul Train Cruise 2016.
Chef Bryce takes his passion very seriously and understands the impact he has on the community not only as a chef but as an African American chef. He spoke about what happened at one of the local schools his program visited recently.
“There was one African American young boy in a class, that was predominantly Hispanic,” said Chef Bryce. “The supervisor of the after school program thanked me for coming to the school.” The supervisor shared with Chef Bryce that the young boy had been getting into trouble but that his presence had an unexpected impact on the boy.
“She said, ‘When you came into the class and he saw that you were an African-American man and you were a chef, it opened his eyes and his mind… and his whole behavior changed from the six weeks you were here—we’ve had no problems with him’.
“You never know, you’re being in a position or the visibility that you give or even a word—you never know the impact that you can have on a young person.”
Chef Bryce is currently launching a blog with his eight-year old daughter titled “Bryce’s Lunchbox”, where he will share tips and educate youth and parents about healthy cooking, nutrition, and food policy issues.
He wants to make a difference in the health of local communities that are jammed with processed and fast-foods. He had some advice on what people could do to get started in a much healthier direction.
“If you can make half you plate fruits and vegetables, you’ll be doing your body a whole service that’s going to have long term benefits,” said Chef Bryce. “Build on that and realize it’s a journey—it’s a lifestyle.”
For more information on Chef Bryce Fluellen, please visit www.chefbryce.com