Stop, Think, Chew
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Stop, Think, Chew

Atlanta’s version of Julia Child is another Julia … a refreshing and fresh-faced personal chef, Julia Kesler.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip). On the side, Marcia is Captain of the Senior Cheerleaders for the WNBA Atlanta Dream.

Julia Kesler pulls together South African and Mediterranean flavors with Georgia-grown ingredients.
Julia Kesler pulls together South African and Mediterranean flavors with Georgia-grown ingredients.

Atlanta’s version of Julia Child is another Julia … a refreshing and fresh-faced personal chef, Julia Kesler, whose business startup, Stop Think Chew, focuses on locally-sourced, healthy food preparation. A product of Atlanta’s Jewish day schools and her South African heritage, Kesler’s goal is to nourish minds and bodies with her brunch pop-up, personally tailored in-home chef preparation and wholesome daily routines.

Registered nutritionist and weight loss consultant Sheryl Westerman gave Kesler an initial push to strike out on her own after working for Ted Turner’s Captain Planet Foundation as development and events manager.

“Julia cooks specific foods for all kinds of people: gluten-free, egg-free, weight loss, etc.,” Westerman said. “She goes over and beyond to provide the best quality of foods possible for unique plans. It’s not easy to cook delicious, slimming food. Julia does it! And I continue to recommend her to my clients.”

Jaffe: How did you get inspired to pursue food preparation as a career?

Kesler: I began in my grandmother’s kitchen. She was a magazine food writer at in South Africa for over 30 years. Her style was always fresh ingredients, often French-styled with gratin.

It has been an interesting journey. I have worked in restaurants since I was 15, first as a hostess, the server, and eventually made my way into the kitchen.

I did not set out to be a chef or have a food business. I originally worked on the nonprofit side of food and food justice. My mission was, and still is, to feed as many people as possible good, healthy, food – while supporting farmers. That is not always easy, so I went to New York University and studied urban food access. All through college, I worked in New York City restaurants, vegan preparation, food delivery, catering and food startups.

My background is nontraditional, and I am not a classically trained chef. But I am committed to staying close to the source, as my grandma and father both have, by using the best ingredients and creating relationships with local farmers. The farmers influence each dish because, without their hard work and sweat, I couldn’t do what I do.

Jaffe: What is the concept and operation behind your pop-up and where does it “pop up”?

Julia Kesler believes in locally-sourced, healthy food preparation.

Kesler: BREKKIE is a local healthy, delicious breakfast and lunch pop-up; bringing South African and Mediterranean flavors together with Georgia-grown ingredients. I rotate locations, including Grant Park Farmers Market, The Spindle Kitchen near Krog Street Market and Golda Kombucha on the Westside BeltLine. We also provide jobs by hiring local people and using various food spaces.

Jaffe: What are some dishes we might experience there?

Kesler: My spice bowl is quite popular, with homemade hummus, greens (usually kale), halloumi cheese, a soft-boiled egg from a local farm, roasted red peppers, and peri peri potatoes. Prices range from $8 to $10. Extra options can add protein or avocado.

We also might have a Macrobiotic Breakfast Bowl with turmeric, chia pudding, homemade, gluten-free granola, wildflower honey, and cashew butter.

Jaffe: Do you take any inspiration from Judaism for your business?

Kesler: I am an alumna of the Atlanta Jewish Academy. Judaism holds a high value on food and how it is prepared. I am proud of Stop Think Chew making wholesome, healthy, and local eating a part of one’s daily routine.

I am proud that Stop Think Chew believes in empowering people through food and creating conversation around the table. We believe in supporting our local food system and paying living wages to our servers.

By supporting Stop Think Chew, not only are our clients and customers eating food that will nourish their body and mind, but also supporting an ecosystem of people that make this possible. All food is purchased as locally as possible and directly supports Atlanta farmers. I am hoping to be able to have a space to share with the community, sell local produce and artisanal products, teach cooking classes, and allow other food entrepreneurs to use as an incubation, motivation and channel.

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