Shaquin Thomas is the owner of Soul To Table Catering Services which offers private chef services. Shaquin also has a line of seasoning blends available in-store and online. Soul To Table Catering Services is located in McDonough, GA, and has been in operation for six years. The highly recommended product is the Soul To Table All-Purpose Seasoning Blend because you can put it on everything from veggies, fish, beef, chicken, and can be used as a salad topping. In addition to serving food, she is an event planner and also selflessly serves her community.
Hello Queen!!! We are excited to get into this flavor talk with you!!! — When and how did you develop a passion for flavor? What made you focus on seasonings?
Shaquin: I developed a passion for flavor the first time I visited the Dekalb Farmers Market and there was an array of spices from all over the world and cultures. I had never tasted curry as a child and I distinctly remember smelling lemon curry and wanting to prepare a dish using it. During the pandemic, while people were home and cooking more, I had an epiphany. Create spices!
From “Soul to Table”; we love this brand name! What was your inspiration behind it and how far do you plan to carry the brand?
Shaquin: My father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer on March 6, 2017, and my life changed forever. I moved him in with me immediately and began to take care of him. As his health declined, I took a leave of absence from my accounting job. During my leave of absence, my job politely fired me! On the morning of April 23, 2017, I awoke at 6 am & like every morning, I checked on my father as soon as my eyes opened because I slept on the chair right next to his bed. This time I noticed his eyes were open but he wasn’t responding. He was transitioning. I called the Hospice nurse and I was told it could take a few hours or days but the hearing was one of the last things to go. I told my father I loved him and that I would spend my life making the catering business a success like we had planned together.
I got up and began to prepare a meal for a 200-person wedding event I was set to cater that afternoon. I called my immediate family to share the news about my Dad. I whipped up peach Cobbler, hugged loved ones, stuffed chicken, kissed my Dad, chopped potatoes, shed tears, and stopped to check my father’s pulse & this routine continued until I watched my beloved Daddy take his last breath at 10:32 a.m. I felt like a piece of my soul died that day. I genuinely felt like he gave his life in exchange for my dream. I would never have stepped out on faith to start a business. I spent my entire savings taking care of funeral costs.
A few days later I was wondering what I would do and how I would provide for my kids. I happened to stop by Blessings Thrift Store because window shopping was therapy for me. While there, an employee said, “Maybe you can deliver lunch to us until you decide about going back to work.” The next day I sold my first $7 plate, posted it on social media and all types of food requests started pouring in.
The name Soul To Table came to me in that moment and it is very fitting. It has been a whirlwind of a dream since then. It is 5 years later and I am still sharing my soul to my table. My father was a giving person and I pay homage to him daily through random acts of kindness. I aspire to be an inspiration to those ready to give up on their dreams!
Tell us about your knowledge and love for herbs! What are your favorite herbs and blends that you sell?
Shaquin: Growing up, my parents always had a garden and my mother’s second home was the herb store. She instilled in me that herbs were natural and each one had a special purpose. For instance, basil helps maintain skin health, boosts digestion, and is an excellent source of iron. I created an Italian Blend that includes garlic, basil, oregano, and more!
What was your trial and error process like? Did you have to go through many blends before narrowing down the perfect ones for your products?
Shaquin: Being a chef, I consider my palate to be pretty dynamic. I like what tastes good simply. Once I taste a combination of spices, I can automatically determine what it would pair well with. There was only one spice Blend that I’m still trying to perfect and it’s a pumpkin spice blend…I’d like it to pair well with sweet potatoes as well.
When and how did you know your blends were good enough to sell? Was entrepreneurship something you were already interested in?
Shaquin: I have a close friend that is always willing to be my taste tester. She is a true foodie and I can always expect an honest answer. I would cook various dishes for her and she would say, “Girl you need to bottle this up and put it on the store shelves!” — While I was watching TikTok videos during the pandemic, I saw how easy it looked to market so I created a line of spices. Entrepreneurship was never something that crossed my mind but I fell right into it and I haven’t stopped yet!
Tell us about your Recipe Book!! What does it consist of and how can our readers check out your product cabinet?
Shaquin: The recipe book, Cooking With Soul To Table, consists of classic southern recipes with a twist. If you are a fan of fried chicken, buttermilk catfish, deviled eggs topped with bacon or even macaroons, this cookbook includes recipes for a variety of tastebuds. Soul To Table Soup offers a catalog of soups ranging from broccoli cheddar soup to lobster bisque. Both cookbooks are available on soultotablecatering.comand Amazon as well.
How has working within your true passion changed your life?
Shaquin: I used to work a 9–5 in corporate America and I would be home by 630 every night. My kids were in bed by 8 pm so I felt I had no REAL time for my family. Because cooking is a passion, it doesn’t actually feel like work. I am enjoying cooking new dishes, creating spices, and teaching others how to prepare meals as well, and it affords me the opportunity to spend time with my family.
What advice would you give to other WOC who are hesitant about going all in to chase their dreams?
Shaquin: My biggest piece of advice is to chase your dream. Whatever hobby that you effortlessly and successfully partake in that brings you happiness may be your passion. Some women are naturally great at doing hair, makeup, creating and sewing clothes, drawing, and more. I believe the talent that you naturally have is your key to the purpose-driven life.