Frisco’s Vegan Hood Chefs are taking tastebuds by storm

Vegan-Hood-Chefs-Ronisshia-Johnson-Hasan-and-Rheema-Calloway-1400x933, Frisco’s Vegan Hood Chefs are taking tastebuds by storm, Local News & Views
Vegan Hood Chefs Ronisshia Johnson Hasan and Rheema Calloway
by JR Valrey, The Minister of Information

With America allowing lab grown meat into stores to be sold and giving the first two contracts to California companies, food is starting to look even more scary in the U.S. The effects of bad diet have plagued the Black community for generations with ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and more. 

San Francisco natives, Vegan Hood Chefs Ronisshia Johnson Hasan and Rheema Calloway, have come up with a solution with vegan cuisine that is exquisite, creative, soulful and delightful to the taste buds. Vegan soulfood is becoming more popular in the Bay Area since the opening of Souley Vegan and Vegan Mob, and although the Vegan Hood Chefs are in the soul food vegan genre, they’re in a league of their own.  Check out these vegan cuisine pioneers as they talk about their journey. 

JR Valrey: Where are you two from and what was your relationship with the food in your area growing up?

Vegan Hood Chefs: We are from Bayview Hunters Point (Ronnishia) and Lakeview (Rheema). Food has always been a part of my life and a huge staple in my family and community. I can’t remember a time in my life where my family didn’t convene or share stories over meals. Majority of what we ate was out of convenience in my house. We are what we could afford and what was accessible, which means it wasn’t always healthy. I grew up eating at all of the local food spots in Bayview! 

JR Valrey: Do y’all see the Vegan Hood Chefs as being a part of the conscious healthy living movement? Why or why not?

Vegan Hood Chefs: I feel like in this new age of social media we have to be specific on what movement we are talking about. There are so many food justice and conscious eating movements that often do not center Black and Brown culture or that practice a superiority complex. I think they often do more harm than help because they aren’t meeting people and in particular our people where they are at. The fact of the matter is we are unlearning and relearning generational habits and systemic issues that take time, money and effort. This means that transitioning is in fact a challenging thing to do – whether your goal is to be vegan or not. 

What we want to do as the Vegan Hood Chefs is humanize people and their journeys and connections to food. We have come a long way in our journey but if you look at us you’ll see we still have a long way to go. I think our movement is just that! Providing education for people and options to start the conversation. We are trying to push more than a movement but a lifestyle shift for our communities. 

JR Valrey: What was your journey towards veganism like? What made you stay a vegan?

Vegan Hood Chefs: We consider ourselves to be plant based, meaning that we eat mostly plants. Just because you are vegan doesn’t mean you are healthy considering all of the vegan meat replacements and engineered products now. We started transitioning from eating less meat in 2012 in college after a health scare. Since then we’ve been on the journey transitioning which has allowed us to create a better relationship with food. 

JR Valrey: How did the Vegan Hood Chef company start? When?

Vegan Hood Chefs: The Vegan Food Chefs launched in 2017. We didn’t intend on this being a business.

JR Valrey: What kinds of dishes do you have on the menu?

Vegan Hood Chefs: We specialize in Cajun food! Both of our grandmas are from Louisiana, so we make a lot of the foods we grew up eating!  We also love to travel so a lot of our dishes are veganize dishes we’ve altered from our travels!  Our menu always rotates, but some of our customer favorites are our Mac & Cheese, Sucka Free Poboys, Garlic Noodles, Poke Nachos and Watermelon Ceviche! 

JR Valrey: How would you describe the kind of food that you make with the Vegan Hood Chefs?

Vegan Hood Chefs: The food we make is innovative, unique, tasty and mind blowing!  We’ve been able to manipulate plants in a way that our customers at times can’t even believe they’re not eating meat! Everyone loves our food and really appreciates the fact that 99% of our menu is really plant-based!

JR Valrey: How is a vegan lifestyle better for the human body than a diet that is heavy on consuming meat?

Vegan Hood Chefs: I don’t necessarily think it’s about just having a vegan lifestyle! It’s about having more awareness around your relationship to food so that you can be intentional about what you are eating and have insight on why you are eating it. The more intentional we are with what we eat the better decisions we make regarding what to put on our plates. 

Convening around food has always been a healing practice for Black people. We’re just asking folks to reclaim that relationship.

JR Valrey: How long have y’all been catering off of the Vegan Hood Chef truck?

Vegan Hood Chefs: We acquired the truck in 2019 but didn’t begin operating the truck until 2020!  Before we bought the truck we catered out of Eclectic Cookery and primarily hosted pop ups and vended at fairs!

JR Valrey: How do people find y’all on any random day? Do y’all have a regular schedule where y’all are at?

Vegan Hood Chefs: We have a residency at the Ferry Building’s Thursday Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  We post additional pop ups on our instagram @theveganhoodchefs. We also send weekly email blasts to our website subscribers on pop up locations. 

JR Valrey: How could people follow you online?

Vegan Hood Chefs: People can follow us on IG @theveganhoodchefs or subscribe to our emailing list serve at

JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, is also the editor in chief of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. He teaches the Community Journalism class twice a week at the San Francisco Bay View newspaper office.