Cajun crab leg, pasta with shrimp and chicken, garlic bread, stuffed potatoes with meat and vegetables, macaroni and cheese… These are just a few specialties made in Jasmine Murphy’s kitchen, creator and cook of Jazzsoul.
Gaining popularity by the day for its taste in cuisine and catering, JazzSoul opened up and sold its first plate August, 14 2013. When asked how she got started, Murphy says she always had a deep love for cooking. “I used to always cook for family, friends and for the holidays.”
She recalls how one day she was spending time with her cousin, just relaxing in the basement. “I’m going to create an event and make a post on Facebook,” her cousin said. The post read “JazzSoul, the kitchen is open this week.”
Murphy was reluctant to the idea at first. Her cousin told her she needed to start getting payed for the food she was cooking. “The next morning, I got all these Facebook notifications after the JazzSoul Facebook page was created. She gave me the extra push I needed,” Murphy says.
In addition to her interest in food, Murphy developed her cooking skills as the oldest sibling. “My mom was a single parent who was always at work, so being the big sister, I made sure me and my brother ate. As I picked up my grandmother’s recipes, in addition to my father being a chef, it just grew on me.”
Murphy did not start cooking full time until about four months ago. Prior to cooking full time, she was a billing representative at a call center service for Comcast. She quit the job on April 14 of this year.
“I hated it,” she said. “I was depressed, angry, wasn’t sleeping or eating. That’s how bad I hated it. I put in my two week notice and didn’t even make it.” Angry customers calling and expressing hatred for high bills eight hours a day eventually led her to the edge.
“It was hard juggling work and cooking, only leaving me available to cook on the weekends if I had time or wasn’t tired. I figured, if cooking was something I really want to do, I had to take the risk and jump.”
At first she was uncertain if she’d made the right decision. During the first month there were times when she cried to herself and even was tempted to call for her job back, but eventually she came to terms with it.
Murphy caters for events such as baby showers, funerals and graduations. In Minnesota, she explained, “We don’t have too many [soul food restaurants], and the few that were around have not sustained longevity, either due to poor business practices or the community not supporting the business. It starts within us, within our own community.”
One of the businesses she recalls from her childhood was Lucille’s Kitchen, at the time located on Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis before it closed. “I remember as a little girl growing up, every Sunday after church we went to Lucille’s. It was so good. Then [out of nowhere] they just closed.”
As Murphy is fully aware of these issues, she plans on attending business classes this winter at North Hennepin Community College located in Brooklyn Park. “I also have a business mentor who is actually a billionaire, who guides me through the business process of how to obtain a business, making sure you’re getting the correct amount of profit, etc. Some of us have the talent but not the knowledge or how to apply it,” she says.
Her goal is to have a food truck and eventually a restaurant, or even to have a booth at the Minnesota State Fair in years to come.
“A lot of people tell me I need a booth at the state fair, but the waiting list is five years,” she says. “It would definitely be a motivator to see more of our people in environments like that. When you really love something and have a passion for it, money is not the motive or the object and you just have to take a leap of faith.”
Ivan B. Phfier welcomes reader comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ivan B. Phifer is contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at email@example.com