SCHOOLS | July 9, 2018
Chef Chloé Gould, a Dunbar Vocational Career Academy alumna, was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease in 2006.
“I was in denial of my health, I couldn’t believe it was happening to me, I thought about it as death,” she said.
She said she didn’t want to let her health condition slow her down so she didn’t give up. On Tuesday, she celebrates the one-year anniversary of her kidney transplant. Once she switched doctors, she changed her outlook on living with the disease.
“My doctor encouraged me and explained that I can have children, [I can live] a perfectly normal life, which was my concern,” she said.
Gould has worked in kitchens in Chicago, Virginia, Minneapolis, DC, Rhode Island and even Singapore, but said she found her way back home in 2010 to teach at Dunbar Vocational Career Academy. Currently, she teaches at Chicago Vocational Career Academy as the chief instructor. Teaching was her way of giving back to the community.
“They need the relatable teachers,” she said. “I know the hardship because I went through it. Depending on what the student is going through, I get a little personal and let them know it’s okay. I think that’s important. We need teachers like that.”
She’s also a C-CAP alumna, which helped her receive scholarship assistance to pay for school. Currently, she trains CPS students from all over the city for the annual competition where they compete in technique and skill.
The South Side Bronzeville native said she fell in love with cooking through her high school’s culinary arts program, but the spark started when she was a little girl cooking with her grandmother.
“I would always prep the food for her,” said Gould.
By age 15, Gould had already began her career, working in the kitchen of the Chicago O’Hare Hilton Hotel. She later received formal culinary education at Johnson and Wales University, where she received an Associate’s in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor’s in Food Service Management. During her junior year of college, at age 21, Gould was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease. She said she didn’t stop reaching for her goals though.
In 2007, after graduation, she was hired to work in the Hyatt Hotel’s Minneapolis Culinary Manager Trainee Program to get on track to becoming a sous-chef. A year and half later she accomplished her goal when she landed a sous-chef position in Crystal City, VA. She moved back to Chicago in 2010 to teach at Dunbar for the next three years, until she was hired to work in Singapore. From there she moved to Alexandria, VA to work as a chef manager for a government agency. Things were going well until her health condition required more attention. While there she would visit home every three months for treatment, she said.
She received a kidney transplant last July and is doing better these days, she said. With all that she does, she makes sure she takes breaks. In addition to teaching, Chef G, as she’s affectionately called, also runs her own culinary services business, DixiePura, launched February 2017. Inspired by her family’s southern roots, combined with her experience of living and teaching in Singapore in 2014, Gould’s specialty cuisine are Southern-Asian dishes.
She’s also working on a business that tailors the traditional white chef jacket for plus-size women.
With Chef G’s collective experience, she said she enjoys passing down her knowledge. She gives her students the foundation to prepare them for a successful career.
“Once you know and understand the techniques you can apply them to any recipe, the rest is simple,” she said.
The students have worked on sanitation, knife cuts, cooking techniques, measurements, and recipe conversions.
In her class they’re also learning the importance of getting in the mindset of being an entrepreneur.
Gould said she’s operating in her purpose, adding that working in the kitchen is her “zen.”
“I know this is my calling,” she said. “I can’t imagine my life without the kitchen.”