THE DISTINGUISHED – FOOD
With over a decade in culinary arts, Jessica Hylton-Leckie has brought a unique taste to vegan living, beckoning with divine aromas equally matched in mouth-watering flavours.
The founder, chief executive officer, and chef behind Jessica in the Kitchen has been happy to provide delectable dishes for her viewers to try at home. The journey started 12 years ago in the oven, and she has kept the heat going ever since. “In 2010, I started a baking business, and I blogged about the cakes I made, mainly photos and a write-up. I fell in love with that process so much that when I stopped the baking business and started law school, I continued with blogging, because it was such a passion for me at that point,” she told Flair.
It helped that she loved assisting others, so sharing the savoury and sweet secrets she learnt in the kitchen seemed like a no-brainer. Interacting with her readers from her website jessicainthekitchen.com, providing assistance in satisfying hunger, and hearing how her recipes changed lives was the icing on the decadent vegan cake.
Cooking and baking on her own since she was 17, the good chef had always known about vegan food, but began learning more when she officially became a vegetarian.
“Veganism got such a bad rap in the past,” she said, adding, “I wanted to show that when you focus on flavour, seasoning and love, vegan or not, your food will be incredible. After all, being Jamaican means flavour first, which is a great thing!”
With her passion for flavour already at the forefront, she started taking the company aspect more seriously in 2014, creating a general business plan for the website, gathering more knowledge through courses, and expanding her readings to include photography, a practice that went hand in hand with food display.
Vegan lovers marvel at how easy and accessible the ingredients are to recreate the chef’s recipes. “I’ve gone out of my way to ensure most of my recipes are made from pantry ingredients, simple to make, and always delicious,” she revealed.
Among the foodie’s favourites is her signature sweet and sour tofu. It showed people that tofu does taste incredible. Her chickpea curry is also a must-try for new vegans, because the one-pot dish is not only easy to make, but delicious, “A lot of readers have told me that these recipes helped them along their journey to being vegan, or even just eating more veggies or engaging in a more plant-based way of eating.”
This love is reflected in the positive feedback, increased website activity, and social media support. Jessica in the Kitchen has become a household name, and Hylton-Leckie is blown away by the growing support. Seeing her website reaching different countries and territories of the world has been the most amazing feeling. “I still get incredibly excited to this day if I find out a favourite celebrity follows me, or if someone comes up to me to say they’ve tried my recipes. It does make me really happy to know I’m reaching so many people far and wide.”
Juggling a great deal daily can be time-consuming, but the entrepreneur goes with the flow, following her content calendar while honouring the process when extra inspiration strikes. The blogger hopes to maintain her current rhythm while continuing to improve her craft and creativity, and changing how people eat, with her recipes.
As for Jessica outside of the kitchen, Hylton-Leckie enjoys spending quality time with her friends, soaking up some sun, going for a walk, watching anime, science fiction or fantasy films, and hitting the gym. Of course, in true foodie fashion, she loves trying out new restaurants and cuisines.
And what’s a chef without their favourite dishes to indulge in? Jessica in the Kitchen’s top five are a big loaded salad, pesto or Alfredo pasta, a great veggie burger, vegan ackee and ‘salt fish’, and her very own gochujang tofu.