We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Dwynesha Lavigne. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Dwynesha below.
Hi Dwynesha, thanks for joining us today. Let’s start with important influences in our lives. Is there a historical figure you look up to?
One of the historical figures I look up to is Chef Lena Richard. I was first introduced to Chef Richard in 2017 by Elizabeth Williams founder of The Southern Food and Beverage Museum. At our introduction Richard had been deceased for over 65 years. Doing research and speaking with historians I tried to find out as much information about her as I could. Looking at how successful she was over her short lifetime was nothing but impressive. Lena Richard was a chef, cookbook author, restaurant and eatery owner, frozen food entrepreneur, and hosted the first cooking segments live on television from New Orleans, Louisiana. Chef Lena has taught me resilience, dedication, determination, and grit. Lena Richard was a black woman who loved food, her family, her community and she grew up in New Orleans just like me. The greatest heights of her career all happened during segregation and in the Jim Crow South. Her determination has truly been an inspiration in my life and has kept me moving forward to change history and the legacy I will leave for the next Black women not just here in New Orleans but in the world.
Dwynesha, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I am New Orleans native born and raised in the 9th ward. I started cooking at the age of 7. In 2002 I Graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduation I chose a career in the retail food industry. Chef Dee worked at Whole Foods Markets for 15 years in the bakery department. During the course of my career my husband and I expanded our family with two wonder boys Reynell Jr and Russell. After baking items for family, friends and church members I decided to start my own business Deelightful Cupcakes in July of 2016. In 2017 I was awarded The Paul McIlhenny Culinary Entrepreneurism Scholarship through the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.In 2017 and 2018 I won the Big Top Carnival Baking Competition that was mention in BAKE Magazine.
In Early 2018 she was accepted into the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Catapult Fund and graduated from the program in the fall of 2018. In 2020 Covid-19 changed the world and my cupcake company. Looking for a way to save my business I reached out to the Lepage Center at Tulane University where I was paired with an awesome mentor to help me pivot. That lead me to start a dessert company Deelightful Dessert with online sales. After about a year and very slow sales in 2021 I decided to take a job at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum as the Director of Culinary Programming. It was there that the dream of owning my own cooking school was born. On February 1, 2022 I became the only African American woman to own a cooking school in New Orleans in over 80 years since Chef Lena Richard. I am super proud to be sharing my life, and Louisiana cuisine with travelers from all over the globe.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
In 2020 Covid-19 changed the world and my cupcake company. Looking for a way to save my business I reached out to the Lepage Center at Tulane University where I was paired with an awesome mentor to help me pivot. That lead me to start a dessert company Deelightful Dessert with online sales. Cupcakes were my first love and opening up my company to sell other desserts was a challenge. I needed to change my focus, and reorganize how I was use to working. Adding the shipping component also required some trial and error. Trying to control shipping /delivery times with a fresh ready to eat product was interesting. But, I didn’t give up yet. Planning and organizing are key to any successful venture. The time, planning, organizing and trial is why my coking school is successful. Those are skills I was able to master and take with me as an addition to any work environment.
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
Although I’m a fairly new business, the quality of the food, guidance by a skilled chef and the historical backdrop of a worldwide known museum is what sets me apart from my competition. Learning to cook some of the best cuisine in the world by a native who infuses that knowledge into every student is priceless. Fresh quality ingredients is a apart of how we keep our food simple, clean and Deelicious! Being consistent with one or 1000 is also how our reputation is growing very fast.
- Website: www.chefdeelavigne.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deelightfulroux/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chefdeelavigne
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dwynesha-lavigne-419b7163
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/deelightful-roux-school-of-cooking-new-orleans
Chanelle Harris (CPC Visuals) Kenyira Martin (Martin Photography)