For more than two decades, Chef Kai Chase has been a force in the kitchen as a caterer and personal chef. With her unique take on New American cuisine, she’s managed to impress everyone who’s had the chance to dine on her fare, including some very big names. She’s thrown down for the likes of Steve Harvey, Michael Jackson, President Obama, and currently, serves as the chef for comedian Kevin Hart. The star was one of the people who encouraged Chef Kai to launch her new universal spice collection, which is available now in three robust options: Warm Cajun & Chicory, 5 Spice Habanero and Ginger and our personal favorite, the California Citrus Salt. “Kevin Hart was part of the inspiration to go ahead and ‘just do it.'” She tells ESSENCE. He loves all three, which are crafted with her Creole, Cuban and “Native African American” background in mind as inspiration. They’re a win, not only with her star clientele, but they’re sure to also be a favorite of those who try the intro flavors in her collection. Learn more about her journey, the what went into getting her spice collection made, and what’s next for the veteran star chef.
ESSENCE: How did you get your start as a chef and how did that lead you to cooking for the likes of Kevin Hart and President Obama?
Chef Kai Chase: I’ve been in the culinary field for 24 years now. I started my professional studies at a small boutique culinary school in Los Angeles called Epicurean. From there I extended my education with master studies at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy in Paris, France. Soon thereafter, I worked in several high-end restaurants. I also started my own catering company, Kai Chase Catering, and at the height of 9/11 it had to close its doors. I went to work for Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events and was encouraged to launch my catering company once more. My first private chef gig was for The Steve Harvey Show, where I was the personal chef for Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer. Over the next 10 years, I balanced my time as a caterer between being a private chef for the likes of Macy Gray and working my elite catering company. Through Kai Chase Catering, I received the gig to cater a VIP fundraiser to cook for then-Senator Barack Obama as he campaigned to be President of the United States. My next 10 years included working as the private chef for Michael Jackson, another stint with Steve Harvey, and now Kevin Hart.
How do your roots of Creole, Cuban, and Native African-American inform the meals you create and your overall cooking style?
My cooking style is New American cuisine. Basically, I take standard American favorites and add exotic and healthy twists to my creations.
What inspired your Universal Spice Collection, what does it consist of and where can it be found?
CBK…Creations By Kai was inspired by my love for exotic ingredients and world flavors. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and drive for creating new business ventures and CBK is the birth of great new ventures to come.
CBK…Creations By Kai consists of three spice blends:
- Warm Cajun & Chicory is a blackening rub, featuring some of Cajun country’s most adored bold spices of French roasted coffee, roasted chicory root and brown sugar.
- California Citrus Salt is my universal salt blend featuring organic sea salt and California-grown fruit zests and herbs.
- 5 Spice Habanero and Ginger spice blend gives Asian, woodsy, and floral notes to your foods. It’s spiced with star anise, fennel, habanero, ginger, cinnamon, maple sugar and chili powder.
All of my spices are all natural, gluten-free and non-GMO. You can purchase my universal spice blends on my website.
Has Kevin tried it yet?
Yes, and he loves them all! Kevin has tried all three, but the Warm Cajun & Chicory is his favorite. All of my three flavors are very different and distinct in their own way. Ultimately, Kevin encourages folks to go ahead and try all three with the purchase of my three spice variety pack. The flavors are phenomenal!
What’s next for you?
My future plans include cookbooks; growing the CBK…Creations by Kai brand with more exotic spices; a line of kitchen essentials; lifestyle home goods; and a cooking show that showcases my unique culinary style, cuisine, and lifestyle. Building the brand Kai Chase is the ultimate goal and I love it!