[Passion to Purpose]: Delvon and Will Glover-Hart, Co-Owners of Lil Kitchen Big Appetite

Names: Delvon and Will Glover-Hart

Profession: Co-Owners and Co-Executive Chefs of Lil Kitchen Big Appetite; Educators

Age: Will, 34, and Delvon, 30

I have put my passion to purpose by: Bringing back classic favorites and using nontraditional ingredients while reintroducing a high-quality dining experience, without the heavy price tag.

Delvon and Will Glover-Hart are on a serious mission—to feed and entertain people while dispelling the myth that black men can’t cook. As co-owners and co-executive chefs of the boutique culinary collective, Lil Kitchen Big Appetite (LKBA), this power couple is the opposite of what we are used to seeing within the culinary world. As a millennial married couple, they are educators by day that represent a new generation of those with five-to-nine jobs that eventually develop into nine-to-fives.

“What makes us unique is our passion for feeding people, exposing them to a different kind of dining experience. And, as an added bonus, we are also gay men of color that are in love with each other. We don’t come from a community where experimenting with exotic ingredients is the norm. We want the people in our community to realize there is more to the palette, and that we care more about making our product affordable, without risking the quality and finesse of our food. Although we have chosen this as a career move, we do not measure our success based on financial gain. Cooking, for us, is a lifestyle,” they tell BE Modern Man.

Continuing a legacy that spans from the ‘big house’ to The White House, to Michelin-starred restaurants, we have always mastered the art of cooking, even before we were acknowledged for our innovative and skilled gift. “We are inspired by our love and appreciation to feed and entertain people. We are also inspired by world culture. We recently had the privilege to travel to Africa, Abu Dhabi, and Milan to experience their culture and the food that comes out of these places. We have already begun to look for ways we can incorporate some of their traditions with our own,” they say.

Their platform is one that everyone can relate to, which further implicates their mission of using food as a sort of ministry, uniting a congregation of food enthusiasts. “Food brings people together. Whenever good food is involved, you can be assured that there will be good times ahead. People want to feel loved and cared for, and the right recipe and how it’s presented can communicate that. We, as individuals, value people. That’s the foundation that LKBA is built on. This speaks to our mission, which is to provide quality food prepared with the finest of ingredients at an affordable price. We want people to eat our food and be satisfied visually and physically,” they tell BE Modern Man.

Delvon adds, “The first time I cooked for Will on a large scale, was for his birthday. I took the time to prepare the menu, and I cared about what he would think about it.”

But we know it is not all fun and games in the culinary world; it can at times be a ‘War of the Roses.’ It’s a cutthroat world with its fair share of issues. “We honestly feel that our most challenging moments come when we realize that it’s just US; our business is contingent solely upon the two of us and what we do for it. We do the planning, the marketing, the cooking, the prepping, the set-up, the consulting, and the cleaning, among other things.  We have realized that, until we reach a place where we can bring others on board, this is our baby, and we are responsible for it. But, it does get hectic,” they say.

“We see the impact we are making when we present someone with a meal or dish that is attached to a bad experience they’ve had in the past, or when we are able to exceed their expectations. When people entrust us to do what we do, that is impactful. [Additionally], when we hear a young person talk about being a chef after coming to one of our classes, or when a person tells us that they are ready to get in the kitchen and try new things because of us, those are some of the biggest impacts we’ve felt, thus far,” they say.

Having successful careers in education has taught LKBA about the art of leadership and how to handle this generation of up-and-coming chefs and food enthusiasts, who dare to dream beyond their current situation. “The key piece of advice that we can offer to the younger generation and BE Modern Man hopefuls is to follow your dreams and passion, not the money. If the passion and commitment are present, you won’t mind the grind—and the money will definitely come,” they explain to BE Modern Man.

“We are and have been aggressive with our dreams, and we have decided to take the scenic route, which isn’t a shortcut, but a path that works for us. We are here to show our peers that it isn’t about what you know, but it’s more so about the unknown. We have taken a leap of faith by delving into this profession, and it has proven to us that focusing on the possibilities that can come out of your faith and passion is what matters most,” they say.

As our tagline reads, it’s our normal to be extraordinary. We learn to overcome our obstacles and are champions for each other, even when no one notices our daily contributions within or outside our communities.

“Overall, our biggest achievement is being committed in our personal and work relationship. We have created clear boundaries that have allowed our relationship and business partnership to join forces, rather than clash. We have gone from cooking in a 300-square-foot studio apartment for two, to conducting high teas for senators, cooking internationally, and preparing birthday dinners for community leaders. We have also managed to keep our core profession, education, at the forefront of LKBA, using teaching as a tool to educate others through the food we create,” they tell BE Modern Man.

This confirms why these stories of strength and determination need to be witnessed and shared amongst our communities. “This form of exposure is essential because it provides a platform that can be used to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of people of color. This also shows that the ‘crab in a barrel’ metaphor doesn’t apply to everyone. There are still other people of color that want to see people who look like them succeed. It’s time for us to support ourselves and shed light on the things we do, because if we don’t, then no one else will,” they say.

“We have not conformed to any stereotypes, nor have we concerned ourselves with any. We see the mission and the end-goal, which is quality food and unique ingredients affordable prices. However, we are very proactive about being involved, having our presence known, and expanding the minds of other individuals. Although we cook, we are also socially aware of the struggle that we, as people of color, face. So, it is important to us that we stay connected by not just feeding the stomachs of our people, but educating their minds, as well. For us, it’s all about exposure. We want to expose all people, especially people of color, to another way of cooking,” they reveal to BE Modern Man.

“To us, being BE Modern Men means having your own version of what success is, and achieving it on your own terms. We also believe that one shouldn’t be afraid to change the narrative for society’s definition of what a ‘man’ should be. We would just like to send a major thank to you and the Black Enterprise team for this amazing opportunity,” they say.

So what’s next for Lil Kitchen Big Appetite? “Keep a look out for the pilot of our new web series that will be air this fall. We will also be teaching a class at Dream Center Harlem entitled ‘Lil Budget, Big Appetite.’ [This course] will teach a small group of people how to shop and prepare meals for $20 or less, which should be very interesting,” they tell BE Modern Man.

The Black Enterprise salutes Lil Kitchen Big Appetite for their out-of-the-box approach to experimentation with different food, shaking up the way we view, prepare, and consume dishes. We look forward to seeing the growth of Lil Kitchen Big Appetite.

For more information on Lil Kitchen Big Appetite, click here. And don’t forget to like, share, and follow them on Instagram: @lilkitchen_bigappetite, Twitter: @LKBA_NYC, and Facebook!

It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.