Chef Monica Hayes
Chef Monica Hayes's mission is to produce easy, healthy, and delicious food for all people. Although she initially wanted to attend culinary school after high school, she was encouraged by her parents to take a different route. She majored in speech pathology at Jackson State University and after graduation, she returned home where she began working with students in Chicago Public Schools. It was here that her passion for culinary arts was reignited. She observed that students would often come to school hungry or malnourished due to the limited healthy food options offered in their communities.
Chef Monica took matters into her own hands and registered for school at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, one of the most respected food education institutions in the world. With her daughter in tow, she took classes at night while still working full-time during the day. Combining her training as a speech pathologist and professional chef with her experience as a mother and zeal for working with students, Chef Monica launched Tasteful Manners Inc. in 2009. A cooking, nutrition, and etiquette education enterprise based in Chicago, Tasteful Manners educates preschool, elementary, and high school students, along with their families, in hands-on learning about healthier food options while preparing culturally diverse foods. To date, the organization has served more than 7,000 students and their families at 15 public schools on Chicago’s South and West sides.
A celebrity chef in her own right, Chef Monica has had the pleasure of cooking fresh and savory meals for NBA MVPs, Rap stars, and politicians, including Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Chef Monica also has a successful meal plan catering business where she brings hearty choices to customers with her food delivery service. She also enjoys several successful partnerships with La Rabida Children’s Hospital, the Walnut Room in Macy’s, and Mariano’s.