Behind the Seeds: Be Back Soon!

In the lab we go! Now is the time when writing, devising and building more structure and foundation takes place! We will be back to share! 

More is coming.

More is developing.

More is inevitable!

Stay tuned,

Behind the Seeds: Writing the Songs


This entry was written by Iliyah Coles, 16. She is one of the songwriters for The Tale of Chef Kale.

Hello, readers!

My name is Iliyah Coles, and I'm one of the songwriters of Chef Kale. Today, I wanted to write about my thoughts on the show. For starters, I really enjoy the message of the series and how being Black and being healthy connect. It's definitely important to eat the foods that are good for you and get enough exercise everyday. Chef Kale shows us that being healthy isn't just a lifestyle; it's a lifesaver. I think this lesson is one that everyone should be taught, which is why it is incorporated into the songs that we've (my sisters and I) have written. There is definitely an intricate creative process when we write the songs. One thing we do first is make sure that we know what the song will be about. We often come up with the lyrics even before the melody so we don't lose the message in the tune. The lyrics have to do with which specific message we want the song to be about, whether it be about soul food, chewing, or even digesting! After the lyrics are written, the tune of the chorus is usually thought of first. The verses are generally built around that, and with some accompaniment added behind it, you have a song! In my opinion, the songs are really catchy (not that I'm biased in any way.) Most people would assume that the entire series, including the songs, are specifically geared towards the younger audiences, but I disagree. Chef Kale can reach all audiences, if not by the creative characters or the insightful songs, then by the universal message that it conveys to its viewers. Thanks for reading!


Behind the Seeds: Faith in the Process

The creative process is one that I take great pride in. I sometimes love and also can't stand not knowing what is next but trusting that its going to be epic. I have been thinking about the next steps of Chef Kale for a long time. I have so many moments of just drawing a blank and not being able to articulate what I want. When I get confused like that, I always go talk to children, because they identify so quickly with simplicity and filter everything else.
This is one of my favorite stories to tell about children and their relationship to the unknown. Once I was babysittinga 4 year old boy and he drew a picture with scribbles all over the paper and I guessed the it was a storm. I was wrong. Then I guessed that it was the wind. I was wrong again. I may have made about 3 more guesses until he said, " No, it's faith. " And for some reason that made so much sense to me. Faith in my creative process rarely involves logic and is dependent on the imagination and intuition. I have to be so connected to my work that even when I don't know what it is, and I've guessed wrong over and over there is something my work wants to teach me and I have to be patient enough to wait until it reveals itself to me. 

More to come. Until next time... Throw some kale in ya face!


Behind the Seeds: 2017!

2017. Chef Kale is ready to go off y'all! lol. I am honestly attempting to calm down all my ideas because focus is my biggest lesson. I tend to look at 234,234 things at once and attempt to do them all. So this year is about focus, diligence, persistence, and gratitude. Let's start with gratitude.

First, I want to start by thanking the ones who listened. Those who listened when I had no idea what I was even talking about. Thank you Kim Bonham, Brian Bell, Ashley Davis, Cassandra Phillips, Singleton Coles, Justin Coles, Kedest Firdaweke, Princess Best, Crystal Roberts, Donnie Joyner, Amber Marie, Drew Little, Nick Webster, Olivia Luna, Dina Casellini, Matteo Casellini, Taja Lindley, Jessica Valories, Audrey Hailes, Alison Kibbe, Nick Anderson, Jason Muckle, John Bonham, Kim Exum, Candis Jones, Antonio Harris, Eden Dimarco, Raven Wilkes,  Isaiah Coles, the entire class of 2014 at Academy of Healing Nutrition, Sheila Jones, Egerton-Warburton Family,  Cavanagh Family,  Vera Kolen, Kym Coles, Dana Henson, Ashley Henson, Dave Ruch, Wendy Jerome, the man at the veggies smoothie truck, the whole foods cash register in Columbus Circle, and the tree in Central Park. Every time someone listened, I understood more about what I wanted to do.

Thank you for those have added their talent and skills into this project: Taliyah Coles, Iliyah Coles, Jehiyah Coles, Rose Stroman, Joshua Grace... and a huge thank you to Marisa Munnings. This woman has been working alongside, traveling, uplifting, creating, basically using all her talents towards Chef Kale and I couldn't be more grateful. Thank you for all you do Marisa. And finally thank you, Jasmine. For being courageous and vulnerable enough to move this journey forward. #Positiveselftalk is one of Kale's values... gotta practice what ya preach :)

2017. Let's go! 

Behind the Seed: Inspired by Sources

I am consistently amazed as the depth of Chef Kale's Story and world is revealed to me. This isn't the traditional Children's Show, and for a while I thought it had to be. I kept attempting to fit it into this mold so that I could control it.

I've finally released it and am allowing it to do it's own thang! And wow this story is so layered and addresses so many themes ranging from self care to food justice. With dense resources like Sistah Vegan by A. Breeze Harper and Afro- Vegan Bryant Terry, I have discovered a new way to explore Chef Kale's world and address important and hard themes and work towards making it digestible for children and their families. I invite you to check these resources out and see how they can inspire you too! 

Until next time! Throw some kale in ya mouth!

Behind the Seeds: The Experience

Now is the time for creating and visioning about what is next. I'm so excited about introducing Chef Kale all over again. Every performance teaches me something that affirms the concept and brings clarity to her world. The most recent performance at United Solo Festival taught me about the power of connection, active listening, and improvisation. The Tale of Chef Kale is an experience and does not exist without witnesses of the story. The connection that Chef Kale has to the audience is based on active listening. It is about trusting that the actor can become Chef Kale honestly and authentically, while engaging with the audience and keeping the rhythm of the show. It is about being intentional about engaging with the audience and stay true to the story when responding. It is about being open with what is said, and being prepared to live through a response.

This show is now more alive than I've ever imagined. I've dreamed up many different experiences and journeys that Chef Kale will take the audience on... Stay tuned as I share.

In the meantime... Throw some Kale in ya mouth!

Behind the Seeds: Closer to YOU!

Chef Kale demonstrating the food prep equipment.

Chef Kale demonstrating the food prep equipment.

Yesterday I was looking back at my very first Chef Kale notes. I had a totally different concept. At one point I thought Chef Kale would literally live in the ground and be some kind of eternal vegetable! Lol To see where I was, and where I am now is so funny. Every workshop has been a stepping stone and I've gotten just a bit further and clearer with my vision.

My next show on November 2nd at 3:30pm is apart of the United Solo Festival. I honestly never saw Chef Kale as a solo show; I always wanted a 4-5 person ensemble. I began performing Chef Kale as a one woman show when I had so many ideas I was going to burst! I had to let them out!  Solo performance is always my go to. It has been quite the experience. I have enjoyed the intimacy that solo performance offers with the audience. I have been able to really connect with some children in the audience in a way that may have been challenging with a full cast.

 My last workshop of Chef Kale ended with an exploration of the set! The children came up and took pieces of the set home, which meant they left with tons of fruits and veggies in hand. I loved interacting with them after the show and showing how some of the food prep equipment worked. Their faces would light up with amazement at these veggies, because these veggies were now famous veggies that they get to take home and eat.

The show has developed into many versions. There's one that I dream to perform where the set could feed over 12 households! In each version, I hope to offer something profound, and on Wednesday I just want to connect to my audience and remind them that Kale loves them!

Until Next Week! Throw some kale in yo mouth!

Behind the Seeds: Am I Chef Kale?


Many people have asked me if Chef Kale is suppose to be "childhood Jasmine". The more I thought about that question the more it was revealed to me that Chef Kale is the time my mom taught me and my friends how to double Dutch with phone cord wires, Chef Kale is the street lights coming on and running home sweaty and being told you smell like " outside." Chef Kale is getting a knock at the door from all your friends who have organized a game to play outside and all you have to do is join in. Chef Kale is the scar on your knee from when you and your friend tried to jump over the big rocks at the basketball court. Chef Kale is being tender-headed at night and falling asleep while your mom combs through your hair.

So in short, yes. Yes, Chef Kale is "childhood Jasmine" in a world that "adult Jasmine" created. The only difference between my childhood experience and Chef Kale's is the food. In Chef Kale's magical world cucumbers can grow from basketball court fences and swing sets! My goal is to transfer the same love and culture around the food as there was in my childhood to Kale's world. When the ice cream man came in my neighborhood, it was like every kid would magically show up to this truck. People I had not seen in months would be out. It was a time to organize for another game or talk about the last. Exploring my relationship with food as a child and how it connected to my neighborhood friends, I remember there was a lot of trading and bargaining for candy and snacks. " I'll give you 3 gummy worms for 4 sour patch." Or " can I have all your red skittles?" Or " if I beat you can you give me your jolly ranchers." It was our money. Applying this culture of food to the world of Chef Kale has been so fun. Does this work? Could children actually feel the same way about vegetables and fruit? Could parents really find moldy tomatoes in a child's pocket vs an old sticks of gum? Will it still make sense ? We shall see...

Until next week,

Behind the Seeds: Growing Out Loud

I want to grow out loud like a big, tall tree.

I want to grow out loud like a big, tall tree.

The Tale of Chef Kale experience is an imagination driven exploration of wellness. Learning how to articulate this work and create what I see in my head has been risky. Sometimes, I have toremind myself that I'm growing out loud with this; all my mistakes and failures are out in the open. I also have to accept that this work is going to change and evolve. Chef Kale may not look the same way she does now in a few years. That thought alone is a bit unsettling. But then I remember watching my favorite TV shows as a child. There was Rugrats, Proud Family, Doug, and Pepper-Ann!  Looking back at the very first episodes, there was major changes made to each character over time. And I can't say that noticed the changes either! I just knew about the good feelings that came with watching those shows. The laughs and the fun! Realizing that helped me realize; we are allowed to grow out loud with our art. My lesson of the year!

Until next time. Take a nana to the head!

Behind the Seeds: Language of Change


"Thank you to Soda pop , Skittles, Sour Patch and McGriddles,
Fun Dip, Hot Dogs, Candied Yam.
Dollar Store Bacon and that red crayon I ate when I was little... Slim Jims and Beef Jerky... and all 6 flavors of Gum I swallowed every year, Sugar Sticks and Birthday Cake mix. If it was not for you, I would not know green. When ya look back at it... You can find God in it all." - My 2015 New Years Eve Toast to My Journey

Gratitude and positive language. This is the foundation for the style of language I use to write Chef Kale. Often times when I began changing the way I ate, there was so much shame involved in some of the teachings of healthy lifestyles and such guilt about choices in the past and all of that sometimes creates really negative self talk.

I would have moments where I gave into my cravings. You would have thought that I punched a baby panda in the throat, tipped a kitten, AND took all the Vitamin A out of all the kale leaves in the world! I would be so upset with myself. I would walk with my head held down all day long and probably would have worn a sign that said "I failed on my healthy eating/lifestyle change goals. Don't look at me." Then I began to wonder; can I learn to make changes without coming from a place of shame and guilt? Without my days of eating a pack of bacon in one sitting, would I really understand the contrast of how I feel eating a batch of kale?

When people experience Chef Kale, I want there to be liberation in the room. This is about inspiring people to want more for their health and wellness! "I can and I will" kinda vibes and that "what if I could " kinda curiosity. This should feel like the unexpected breeze you didn't know you needed on a hot day you weren'tunprepared for.

Grounded by this, toss in a little Ntozake Shange, rub some Dr. Seuss in and sprinkle some Jasmine randomness, and there we have what I aspire to be the language of Chef Kale; the same kind of language that I used to change my lifestyle.

Till next week folks. Throw some kale in ya mouth!

Behind the Seeds: In The Hair

"How in the world am I gonna have this girl's hair made partly of kale and it not be a food violation? ... Or seen as totally unsanitary?" This was my thought when the idea of Kale's hair came to me, I knew that I wanted it to do two things. For one, I wanted to explore food accessibility. Children should have access to fresh local fruits and veggies! Veggies should be close at all times. As close as they would be if it were to grow out of their heads!

Second, I wanted to show the power of embracing natural hair... something that Kale does because for her, kale is a part of her natural hair.

Hair was so important to me growing up. Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent sitting between my mom's legs as she did my hair. As a child, hair always reminded me of a plant; the care and love it needed and the joy I got from taking care of it. Kale is all about the power of taking care of her hair or her "glory," as she calls it.

Taliyah Coles, a vocalist for The Tale of Chef Kale, is extremely passionate about healthy hair. She is one unbelievably talented and knowledgeable young lady who has a lot to offer the hair care world! Click here to check out her latest YouTube video all about food choices and the connection to the health of hair! I feel pretty honored to have her as a sister and collaborator!

Until next week, whatever you are eating, just go ahead and throw some Kale on it!

Behind the Seeds: Fearless to Feed a City

To good good fiber!

To good good fiber!

In between auditions, I remember sitting on the red steps in Times Square and writing about Chef Kale; creating everything that I wanted it to be, vision boarding, and dreaming as far as I could. Sometimes I would bust out laughing thinking about how much I wanted to do with this project. I would write about how I wanted her recipes to feed the city. Then I would take really fun pictures where I pretended to feed the New Year’s Eve ball some figs or a strawberry smoothie; filling up next year with all this Vitamin C and that good good fiber. lol
I am still beginning this journey with Chef Kale although this idea of her and her world has been in my heart for years. Sometimes it feels like I am moving too slow or that I am behind. I am realizing though, that this is so purpose driven that there is no way I could mess it up. Everything is happening right on time. I would even write out my fears on those red steps and then thank them for keeping me growing! Without them, I wouldn’t understand the power of fearlessness. Besides, who has time for fears when there's a city to feed?

Until next week,


Behind the Seeds: I Did Not Like Kale

To Kale!

To Kale!

"I really didn’t like kale…like at all. I thought it was an invasive vegetable. The texture was unexpectedly jarring to my tongue. The taste would leave my face looking like someone pushed past me.  My teeth were tired after three bites, and I was over it by the time I sat down to eat it.  Yep. "

Well... Thank you for joining the Behind The Seeds journey! I am excited and scared out of my mind about this process. Which is exactly where I want to be. I really don’t think the idea of Chef Kale came to me all in one moment. I think it developed slowly, and that for a while I didn’t even know I was developing anything. It’s kind of like when you are stopped in the middle of a sentence because you either have to sneeze, cough, or burp but you have no idea which one it is…but whatever it is, it has caused you to completely stop what you are doing. It has interrupted your entire body and you must give it your full attention. That’s what creating Chef Kale has been for me…and I have loved being in love with this, upset with this, sad with this, and so so annoyed that half the time I can't seem to get out what I want to say (at least not in the same way that it came out in my brain.)

Anyway, back to passionately disliking kale. I really wanted to like kale, because I had read so much about how amazing kale was for us. I wanted everything it had to offer. I was so determined to fall in love with kale. I would put it in smoothies, chop it up into unrecognizable pieces, juice it, toss it, flip it, run around with it. Eat it in the dark, Eat it in a park. All that. I really still didn’t like it.  I would even go as far as telling people that I loved kale, just to see if I could trick myself. After a while, I think I just actually started to like it, so I guess that worked.

I think that I expected Kale to taste like sugared chicken or something because that was what I was use to at the time. And at that time my taste buds were completely conditioned for sugar and fried foods. It’s funny;  claiming that I loved kale before I actually loved kale caused me to research more about the benefits. Then, continuing the research of the benefits is what sparked the idea of Chef Kale to slowly unfold. I am so thankful for that I took the time to love Kale because it has changed my life.

Until next week,