Pearl Thompson's business, The Seasonal Fork, specializes in organic meals.
With a grandmother from Georgia and a grandfather from India, Pearl Thompson was exposed early to a variety of culinary styles.
Thompson, who runs The Seasonal Fork, is a personal chef who offers her customers a range of meals that come from organic and locally grown foods. Her repertoire includes Indian, Thai and Chinese foods, and her customers range from professionals short on time to athletes in training.
Thompson grew up in a family of food entrepreneurs. Her mother ran a pizzeria in Newark, where she grew up, and many of her relatives owned food carts in the city. It wasn’t until later, though, that she explored becoming a chef.
In the 1980s, Thompson took a job as a bus driver to support her family. Driving up and down the East Coast for 10 years, she sampled cuisines of the various regions along her route. This re-kindled her interest in cooking, inspiring her to seek out formal culinary training.
She took classes at the New York Restaurant School and at the Culinary Institute of America, eventually teaching the trade to other budding chefs.
Around this time, Lisanne Finston, head of the Elijah’s Promise Community Kitchen, was looking to branch out and found a culinary school for the organization’s clientele. She approached Thompson to spearhead the effort, and the result was the successful Promise Jobs Culinary School in New Brunswick.
Thompson developed a reputation in the area as an excellent chef, and one who would cater to people with special dietary needs. About seven years ago, a friend of Thompson’s was planning a conference in Highland Park and knew that some of the attendees were vegans. She approached Thompson about catering the event. The vegan attendees liked Thompson’s food so much that they suggested she go into business for herself.
Since then, she has cooked meals for dozens of clients who stick with her for a long time. Though she caters to all tastes, most of the meals she cooks are meat-less. Some her of meat-eating clients, she says, have gone vegetarian after finding out from her cooking that they can eliminate meat from their diets without sacrificing taste.
Thompson focuses on organic, locally grown food. “It’s great for planet, great for the local economy, and it’s way healthier,” she says. She buys food mostly from farms in North Brunswick, East Brunswick and Griggstown.
Why did Thompson choose to cook for a living?
“I love it. I love food. It has such a strong social, spiritual and economic impact on every area of your life.”
Thompson can be reached at (732) 297-5195. Her personal chef services range from $250 to $400 per week, depending on the number of meals prepared.