The Rise of the Personal Chef – "Pushing for Perfection"

Today culinary delights are introduced to us through the media by celebrity chefs who duel to encapsulate the flavor, technique, and presentation of an entree or dessert just before time runs out in a competition. We also enjoy television show segments with only seconds allotted to show us how we can duplicate celebrity chef recipes at home, or we can leisurely watch a chef’s television show for an hour, as he or she seems to talk directly to us. Beyond watching back to back shows on food channels, thanks to YouTube, we can spend even more time watching video of celebrity chefs. Some people consider celebrity chefs the supermodels of the 21st century.

Nevertheless, a category of chefs exist who deserve their own accolades—the personal chef. Personal chefs are not a new phenomena. The wealthy have always had someone to prepare meals in a corporate setting at the executive level, and in their homes. However, a burgeoning middle class in the U.S. began to adopt personal chef services as one of the affectations of becoming upwardly mobile. Hiring a chef to come into one’s home to personalize a multi-course meal is a delightful experience. If the chef happens to be as personable, entertaining, and knowledgeable about food and wine as Chef Jay DeLong of Canapé Speciality Chef Services, your experience is guaranteed to be superb.

From upstate New York watching his mom cook at home as a child and licking the wooden spoon in her kitchen to learning how to grill for the family, Chef Jay’s impressive culinary career that led him to the Seattle area is grounded by strong culinary influences. From classical French training, dedication to creating dishes using fresh seasonal ingredients, to providing satisfying client services, and teaching at a local college, Chef Jay is the consummate professional.

Recorded in 2013, Chef Jay allowed fromacloud to interview him before he began personal chef services on an early fall evening. Watch snippets of Chef Jay’s preparation and listen to him describe his amazing gastronomic journey.

Learn more about Chef Jay DeLong and his culinary services:

Ann Levorn

Sachal Vasandani July 2013


“There’s always space in your heart for love”

In 2014, it’s refreshing to know that Jazz still lives. Many people can name the male jazz singing greats from the past—Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, or Tony Bennett. Others can name those from the past who sang the American standards including Bing Crosby, Mel Torme, Steve Lawrence, and Johnny Mathis to mention a few. Thankfully, a contemporary voice in today’s jazz and standards music world, Sachal Vasandani, reflects the influences of his predecessors. Although Mr. Vasandani pays homage to the past in his vocal styling, he simultaneously imprints the music he sings, writes, and composes with his own distinctive cadence and phraseology.

During the summer of 2013, Sachal Vasandani participated as an instructor and performer during the Centrum Jazz Port Townsend Festival. The annual event celebrating the arts in Port Townsend, Washington is more than MainStage performances, but a well designed celebration of the arts through education, multigenerational and diverse activities and events, which occur throughout the year.

Various workshops covering different art genres provide “…artists and creative thinkers from around the world, students of all ages and backgrounds, and audiences seeking extraordinary cultural enrichment” common ground (, 2013). The concerts, workshops, and artist residencies take place at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington (

Mr. Vasandani lent his talent not only to teach during Jazz Port Townsend, but he also performed on the mainstage as well as in an intimate setting at the Manresa Castle in Port Townsend, established in 1892 as a private home of a local businessman ( fromacloud had the pleasure of interviewing Sachal Vasandani in between sets at the Castle.

Credit – Music courtesy of Sachal Vasandani

Ann Levorn

Glory Seka Mkini and Chad Redlight of Dawn Love and Activism – A Powerful Combo

With a smile that lights up a room, Seka is a founding member of the Jua Lekundu Foundation established to help children and communities in the Arusha Region of Tanzania, East Africa where Seka spent her childhood (Jua Lekundu Foundation Facebook, 2013).

When Seka was eighteen, she left her home in Arusha and followed her adventurous spirit to America. Six months later she received a letter from home telling her that her mother had died of cancer. Within a few years, Seka lost her three sisters and several other family members to AIDS. She is now the only woman left in her family (Jua Lekundu Foundation Facebook, 2013). Seka’s yearning to help her community in Arusha stems from her personal loss of family members, and many others in Arusha who lost their lives to AIDS. The region’s public health needs overwhelming local resources became the impetus for creating an organization that could make a difference.

Married for 9 years, Seka and Chad’s story is not only one of love for each other, but also their story is about love of community, and music. During the mid-2000s, Seka and Chad visited Arusha and witnessed children living on the street. The AIDS crisis left many children orphaned. They learned that many areas of Arusha life needed improvement. From a severe lack of education, poor access to quality water, the absence of nutritive food to inadequate healthcare and deficient everyday skills, help was needed.

In the interview, the couple share some highlights of their journey on the path to finding each other and carrying the weight of activism while navigating obstacles along the way.

To learn more about the Jua Lekundu Foundation visit

Chad Redlight of Dawn, drummer and keyboardist lends his musical talents to enhance the sound of Seattle musicians like Thaddillac, and bands such as Marmalade. You can find him touring with Luc & The Lovingtons, and Seka taking care of their lovely children.

William Stephenson Interview at the Comedy Cellar in New York

William Stephenson is in a celebratory mood as he hits a milestone in his comedy career. On October 2, 2013 at the Village Underground Comedy Cellar in NYC around the corner from the original Comedy Cellar, William will be joined by Darrell Hammond from Saturday Night Live and Greer Barnes from Chappelle’s Show and The Late Show with David Letterman. More comedians may come aboard the comedy celebration. Watch William discuss how comedy and life intersect.

Nina Blanka

Count Up Artist Nina B. Blanka Podcast

Nina B. Blanka is a name you notice. The young woman who carries this name is definitely not one to be ignored. A rapper from the ATL hip hop scene, Nina B. Blanka’s music communicates the importance of developing one’s strengths and having control through independence. She’s a young woman with an incredible drive for achieving her dreams. The powerful combination of beauty, talent, and business acumen makes her, a Boss.

During a recent conversation, Nina B. Blanka expressed, “My music is considered CountUp music. It’s a fun music that talks about being a Boss and working hard to get what you want out of life. I want to inspire young people not to depend on others for self worth, but to feel good about having a job, working hard to climb the ladder of success, and be in positions of power.”

Developing a musical interest was no accident. Growing up in Detroit, and being able to absorb the greatness of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin in proximity over many years instilled in her not only a love of music, but also a love for the process of creating music. In her youth, she began to write poetry, which led to her writing rap lyrics. She has a strong work ethic and often works 17 hours a day, but creating music does not feel like work to Nina B. Blanka.

Not only does she write some of the hardest hitting lyrics, she also has a head for business managing one of the biggest recording studios in the ATL area, “Hot Beats Recording Studios,” where many of today’s hip hop stars spent session time such as Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and many more.

Well known in the ATL music community, Nina B. Blanka continues to make waves as the “Banjo Boss,” a term she created when her first mixtape, “Banjo Lingo” was released. Nina B. Blanka says “Banjo means money, and most refer to money in the South as Bands. I just put my own twist on it! I love being original, setting trends, and being the girl that’s different.”

Listen to Nina B. Blanka.

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