Currently a Tulane University student with a focus on Ethnobotany and Health & Wellness, I have been the proprietor of Rise and Shine Desserts since 2006. I am a leading consultant in the field of Special Diet Culinary and an expert Culinary Educator whose professional experience has been proven to be greater than the sum of it parts.
My career highlights include professional culinary training, international travel and a 9-year career in Information Technology. During my time in the midwest, I was recognised by CBS Chicago, ABC Chicago, Comcast Television ‘Community Connections’, Mayor Daley’s Chicago Works, the Chicago Sun-Times, WGNO New Orleans and the Food Network for my leadership in the special diet community.
In April 2010, I began a worldwide research project, one of my means of expanding my knowledge to better serve the greater community. This educational research trip, which I call the ‘Global Community Knowledge Project’ (GCKP), includes working on small farms and with small, traditional and Indigenous communities to learn about sustainable and organic food production, post-harvest handling methods, natural food preservation, traditional culinary techniques and recipes, as well as using foods and plants as natural medicines. The complete culmination of my findings will be published at the conclusion of this project in the form of a mobile app.
In 2014, I became a volunteer culinary educator with OldWays, working specifically with the African Heritage & Health Program. Our mutual interests lie in preserving healthy and beneficial traditions by way of contemporary integration into modern diets: to serve humanity through food, prevent and limit illness, through cooking demonstrations, and facilitating educational workshops in various communities across the country.
In 2017, I merged my experience in the IT industry, culinary arts and sustainable agriculture into one venture in the form of a mobile app named AmnAya. I worked to develop a contemporary mobile solution that preserves traditional plant knowledge through recording sustainable growing techniques, recipes and folk usages as well as pairing each with existing western scientific studies on each plant, while defeating biopiracy.
This massive undertaking to create an online version of an ‘ethnobotany-focused Wikipedia’ meets ‘Google for Gardeners’ is still in development, as both the purpose and benefits are multifaceted. The content development stage includes working to gather feedback from tradition-bearers and descendants of Indigenous communities, African-Diaspora and other tropical communities whose cultures have experienced traditional plant knowledge loss, and/or intersected with European colonisation. The reason is to create a resource that protects, honours and serves the public health goal of preserving cultural plant usage and their stories for future generations, in their own voice. I believe one of the ways this may be accomplished is through preservation through the promotion of mindful gardening of nutraceutical, medicinal and phytoremedial plants and plant food, employing the use of mobile technology as a resource for collaboration and creating local and global networks.
And yes, Sunshine Best is my real name.