This beautiful, southern girl got her start deep in the heart of Texas. As a mother of three, she wanted to find a way to help her children live a better quality of life, especially her son, Tyler, who was born with Cystic Fibrosis. She found that help by creating and preparing vegan and vegetarian meals using whole foods.
After inviting friends and family into her “test” kitchen to try her creations, she quickly recognized the high demand for convenient, healthy food options. With the encouragement of family and friends, Chef Cynthia began making plans for establishing a fast food company that offered, not only healthy but also tasty, vegan and vegetarian options.
The cousin of Grammy-nominated gospel recording artist, Tamela Mann, who is also known for great cooking and baking, Chef Cynthia infuses her southern roots and family’s love of art into her meal creations. She carefully sources and selects local produce and products from organic farmers and suppliers. She only selects the best whole ingredients for her recipes – from her Italian Po’ Boy sandwich and Soulgood Street Tacos, to her homemade vegan cupcakes affectionately calledFruitcups.
After her then 16-year old son, Tyler, was added to the UNOS organ transplant list in 2010, Chef Cynthia began studying biology, chemistry, and the benefits of eating whole organic foods to help prolong Tyler’s life while he waited for life-saving organs. During this time, she began feeding friends and executives in the healthcare field who marveled at how closely her delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes tasted like traditional meals made with meat. Encouraged by the growing demand and her son’s need for healthy foods, Chef Cynthia launched Soulgood Vegetarian to Go in 2012.
“I believe food can be thy medicine, but doesn’t have to taste like cardboard.” –Chef Cynthia
In 2013, Chef Cynthia published her first art cookbook, “Soulful Vegetarian Cooking: A Southern Girl’s Meaty Love Affair and Journey to Natural Foods” onInstagram. In 2014, Chef Cynthia was recruited for CNBC’s Restaurant Startup. In addition to managing Soulgood Vegetarian to Go, Chef Cynthia also hosts entertaining vegetarian and vegan cooking classes at colleges and farmers markets throughout the Dallas area.
When she’s not in the kitchen creating new recipes, Cynthia works as a Senior Partner with Integrality, a global consulting firm, and Senior Business Advisor for theGoldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in Dallas, TX. She also mentors for United Way’s Ground Floor Accelerator program and hosts Disrupt Radio, an iTunes business and technology podcast.
“My first love was cooking while creating art with whole foods for my children to eat and appreciate. It’s where I would find peace and serenity from hectic days at hospitals with my son, in board rooms in the technology field and life as a single mother. If I didn’t eat healthy and eat whole foods I wouldn’t have the stamina to work 12 – 14 hour days and be the mom I wanted to be for my children.” – Chef Cynthia
Tyler Nelson, who inspired Soulgood, transitioned on June 23, 2015, at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, TX, due to transplant complications. He was 21 years old. Tyler’s legacy, investment and faith that his mother can improve lives through love, food and laughter continues in the mission of this company.