Star City Six – Wahadi Allen
The Waterford Communities (thewaterford.net) are locally owned and operated, with two assisted living locations—The Waterford at College View and The Waterford at Williamsburg–and one location specifically dedicated to providing memory care—The Waterford at Wilderness Hills. All of The Waterford Communities offer a home-like environment along with a host of amenities that allow residents to maintain their independence and the quality of life that they deserve. Wahadi Allen was recently promoted to Head Chef at The Waterford at Williamsburg.
Tell us a little about your new role.
Most call it hospitality or food service, but for me it’s altogether different. I create experiences using food as my platform, with a superior level of service. That’s my particular type of magic.
How did you get started in the business?
When it comes to cooking, my grandfather was probably the most influential. He was my role model, a talented cook, and made it seem like it was a privilege reserved only for the worthy, so I was naturally inclined to follow in his footsteps. As far as pursuing it as a career, my dear friend and mentor Dean Murray gave me an employment opportunity at his catering company on the gulf coast that fanned the flame. I decided to follow my passion and attend culinary school.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Leaving my comfort zone in fine dining. By pursuing a new opportunity that required change, it allowed for growth professionally and personally.
What has been your most important achievement professionally?
Years back I took a culinary position with a large company in the oil industry. When I interviewed, management said they believed I was out of my element and the turnover rate for professional chefs was extremely high. A year later I was presented the award for best chef in a fleet of 52 drill ships on the best sea drill rig in North America. Although that was certainly a highlight of my career, what’s most important to me is to use my talents in the service of others.
Tell us a little about your family.
My grandparents left a big mark on my life. My beautiful wife Katie is my muse; she gives my life meaning and without her it would be hard to color inside the lines.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
Hurricane Katrina. It taught me to respect change and live in the moment.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
Cook dinner for my wife.
What are you the most proud of?
My friendships. I can’t imagine a world without them.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
To whom much is given, much is required…there ain’t no free lunch!
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
One ring to rule them all! Kidding, maybe read minds…just imagine the level of service I’d be able to provide then!
What is your greatest talent that you don’t utilize in your daily work life?
Motivational speaking. I love sharing stories and tidbits of accumulated knowledge to empower others.
What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why?
I’m a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
What is your favorite book or the last good book you read?
The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino.
What is your favorite local restaurant?
The Oven. I can’t get enough!
If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so?