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Rising Stars: Meet Annalisa Mastroianni Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annalisa Mastroianni Johnson.

Hi Annalisa, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I started cooking professionally when I was 26 years old, but I always loved to cook. One year for Thanksgiving, I decided to cook for my friends and family and everyone was so amazed they all suggested this should be my future. At the time, I was doing individual meal plans for people on specialized diets, but it didn’t really give me the room to spread my wings. About four years ago, we joined a service that did lunch pop-ups at office building all over the greater Los Angeles area, at first we started with a pretty generic menu, then we moved into doing Soul Food, it was a niche that had not be addressed. It was a hit, people asked where the restaurant was located, but at that time we only had a commercial kitchen. About a year later, my kitchen was sold and I was forced to find a new place. Eventually, I found a new kitchen that also had a restaurant space, so about six months after we moved in we launched Soul Food Sunday.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Never smooth, tons of struggles. Primarily finance, then the pandemic, what a year!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I feel that I am a creative because what I do feeds my soul. I worked in restaurants when I was younger and always asked if I could help create specials for the kitchen, even though I was the waitress. One of my jobs actually gave me a chance and that was the first opportunity I had to cook professionally. I loved it, but I also love the interaction with the customers and the energy of a crowded restaurant. I always joked with my friends that waitressing was my favorite job outside of cooking, the good news is now I can do both!

What matters most to you? Why?
Quality. We never cut corners in the kitchen. My clients expect everything to be fresh and delicious, so we prepare everything from scratch with lots of love! And second, to quality, my clients/customers mean so much to me, it is amazing how loyal they are, I have a few that eat here every day that we are open. During such a crazy time in life, I am blessed to have so many people that trust me with their food and feeding their families.

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