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Cooking isn’t about just throwing some ingredients together and making sure it tastes okay. It’s a labor of love that can bring people together, relieve stress, and even open doors for business opportunities. Momtrepreneur extraordinaire Kia Denise has already made waves in the fashion world, and now she’s brewing up culinary delights in the food industry. Always one to give 110%, Kia’s love for food started at a young age and she’s on her way to building an empire through it.

“I’ve always loved food. Since the age of 8, I used to always sit in the house and watch Food Network – my sister and brother would be outside and I’d just be watching the Food Network like ‘Wow. This is amazing’. When I was in high school, I was never a fan of math and science, so I did all of the extra cooking classes to get all of my credits. To this day, if you give me HGTV and The Food Network as my only two television channels, I will watch them happily everyday.”

In addition to being a great chef at home and for private parties, Kia developed her own slew of cooking classes where everyone can get a first hand learning experience and tasting of Kia’s delectable dishes. Cooking with Kia allows those interested in spicing up their cooking repertoire to be a part of a fun, upbeat cooking class where they’ll not only leave with a recipe or two, but also with a huge smile and a few new friends.

Photo via KiaDenise.com

“I would get comments and DMs where people would ask if I can share recipes, or come to their houses or their city to show them how to cook certain things. I started brainstorming with my fiancee and we thought: “Why not just start doing cooking classes?” I did a lot more brainstorming and some additional research and came across someone else who does cooking classes in Philly, and she helped me out a lot.”

“I was 6 months pregnant at the time, but I was still getting everything together, ordering supplies, the burners, the pots, etc. Then I needed a place to host the classes – my friend Ricky has a studio called the Mannequin Factory and he let me use the space for the Cooking with Kia classes. After that, it kind of just came together, and now I do cooking classes once a month.”

All of Kia’s recipes are delicious, but she does have a couple of favorites, and to say that the recipes simply satisfy taste buds would be a massive understatement. “One of my personal favorite recipes is my 4 Cheese Mac & Cheese – ugh, it’s just amazing *laughs*. A favorite of my attendees for my private parties is definitely the Stuffed Balsamic Glazed Chicken, and when I do brunch classes, they love the Chicken and Waffles. It’s simple, but it’s delicious. I absolutely love pretty looking meals, but I also like some meals that can be simple to cook.”

A huge part of building an empire is not only having a passion for your brand, but also developing the resources and support to continue to grow your brand – something that Kia knows about very well. As a successful rising entrepreneur, Kia always has gems to pass along to aspiring bosses and creatives alike.

“I believe in investing in yourself to make things better in the long run. I struggled with that at first because I always put my kids and my family first, and then my business second. By the end of the night I would still have a lot that wasn’t taken care of, so I’ve invested in a manager and an assistant and I think that was the best thing I could do. I get to spend time with my family and get work done, so it’s great.”

Photo via KiaDenise.com

There are various ways to invest in yourself, and it may be a small investment that opens bigger doors. Everything from getting additional assistance, to getting yourself business cards can be a step in the right direction for your career.

“Invest in yourself in various ways – if you know it’s a lot of work for you to handle, like I did, invest in a manager or an assistant. If you know you have a big networking event coming up, invest in your wardrobe and business cards. Always make sure you make the right choices financially and investment wise because you’ll profit off of it in one way or another.”

“Investing is just one piece of the puzzle though. A lot of people don’t understand the importance of networking nowadays. You should be networking anywhere you can – networking on social media, in a supermarket, while you’re running errands, everywhere. You can’t be shy if you want to be successful.”

“Also, look into mentors. You don’t want to walk into an industry completely blind without knowing anything. Put your pride to the side and get a mentor from the field that you’re in. It can be tricky, but I pray that they’re genuine to you, and it will definitely be a huge help.”

With the release of her cookbook Mommy, What’s For Dinner?” drawing near, Kia is more excited than ever to be able to share her love for culinary arts with the masses, and to bring people together one recipe at a time.

Be sure to keep with Kia on Facebook, Instagram, and her own website, and make sure you pick up a copy of “Mommy, What’s For Dinner?”.