One Concept, One World

By / Photography By Caroline Choe | September 29, 2017
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I love hearing stories about beginnings. A lot can lie in seeing something in its growth, but wonder lies in how something started.

Most of my days begin in one room on Mosholu Avenue in the northern part of Riverdale, a big hilly-and-healthy walk from the 242nd Street 1-train stop. It’s a small spot, indeed, and I often refer to it as my little cubbyhole.

Within this room is my living room, my kitchen, my little table I call my office. But in the end, it’s the beating heart of my business and where everything eventually comes back to. Every recipe, piece of writing, email, phone meeting, lesson plan, sketch and plan—it is all in here, and it’s just a small spot in saturated surroundings. I’m certainly not the first or last person to operate this way in the Bronx, but it definitely is a seed pushing its way out of concrete.

Like many, it took me a little while to navigate to this point. There were a few pit stops on the road, trying to decipher whatever messages life decided to throw in for good measure. I’d achieved my bachelor’s degree with a focus in art, and eventually my master’s degree in art education. My life eventually brought me to a place where I was able to develop a multifaceted career, and thus I humbly evolved into a conglomerate of a teacher/cook/artist/writer, but also my proudest role and venture: founder of my business, Create & Plate.

Create & Plate is devoted to helping create community through arts and food education. The concept is one I’ve always felt strongly about: both being able to help provide the keys and acknowledge the common ground we share in humanity. Just as we all have a lifelong affiliation with food, we also share mutual love of art, performance and constantly seeking and reminiscing on our great experiences from them. Advocating these universal concepts has been both my life’s passion and the work I’m most grateful to do.

To base operations out of the Bronx is an added personal connection. It’s a borough where many from my own family put down roots. Even before my father lived in the Bronx for a time while working as a physician in Co-Op City and formerly at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, he was a Yankees fan in South Korea stretching back to the days of Yogi Berra. I was born in Albert Einstein Hospital and now also live in Riverdale with my husband, who also teaches in the area. Jerome Avenue was home to other relatives in the 1980s, as they once operated a neighborhood candy and stationery store. No matter where life has turned, there are still many things that always bring back memories: sights, smells, tastes, sounds, even how the air feels sometimes.

That said, it’s no wonder that the Bronx is a place where food and the arts have their own deep roots for many. Though the borough’s own beginnings have gone through constant surges of growth and decline, it still remains the foundation and motivation for many an artist and maker to build upon an idea. Its history encompasses both its roles as once a summer getaway for New York high society, as well as the legendary birthplace of hip-hop.

It’s a place where bodega chopped cheese and an upscale casual restaurant in the New York Botanical Gardens can exist together, in the same realm of value. Even now, Arthur Avenue carries with it the same concept of family-based, fresh-made food, along with S & S Cheesecake and Lloyd’s Carrot Cake carrying out their own distinct quality for decades. Nearly everyone has a story that involves a City Island seafood meal and running out there when one wanted to feel like they were somewhere else other than New York.

In my years of working in art, education and food, I’ve consistently found that each area really will give you a full picture of what can happen when the focus becomes to proactively seek and make something. Everyone’s struggle is translated into something greater, and thus takes form in the joys they project. In continuing to pursue this, I hope to meet more people sharing our human needs to be thoughtful, fed and enlightened. Above all, my mission is to shine a light constantly on the fact that we all share more similarities in our lives than differences. Particularly, within the possibilities of what we can create, and how we can best manifest this energy towards bringing everyone to the table.

Where many things in the future are uncertain, there is still the commitment for my hope in this endeavor. However the road is chosen for the day—to cook or teach, formulate, brainstorm, execute, putting it to paper or a roomful of people—it is all truly part of the grand idea. Each day is a step, and it’s reflected in the motto: One meal, One piece, One performance at a time. I want to do my part to ultimately aim towards better days ahead, using things that can delve into a person’s greatest potential. There have certainly been struggles to overcome, but there is a cause greater than myself I hope to contribute to. The wheels are in motion for all of us to make something better, even on the days the rain will pour down the hardest.

For more info on Create & Plate check out their website 

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