Meet Chef Sonya Dorsey

Categories: Meet Our Neighbors

Sonya Dorsey knew from a young age that she was destined to be a professional chef. She remembers learning from her grandparents about the fine art of cooking. With one grandmother who specialized in the pastry arts and the other grandmother who specialized in the culinary arts, Sonya knew her way around the kitchen from a young age.

Her journey wasn’t easy. Along the way, Chef Dorsey found herself and her four children in an abusive relationship in Louisiana. Like so many women in that situation, she didn’t have the support network to transition safely into a new life. When she fled, her ex attacked her and left her in a coma for three months. When she finally woke up, Chef Dorsey was drowning in medical expenses and unable to work. She became homeless. But she never became hopeless.

It took many years for her to rebuild. Though she secured a job, Chef Dorsey experienced what many homeless neighbors do without a safety net: she again became homeless. She found her way back to safety, moving to Texas to stay with her now-grown daughter. She saved enough to get her own apartment, and when the opportunity to pursue a degree happened by, she took it. One opportunity led to another, and she was able to start her own business.

She worked hard for a long time and took every opportunity she had. It was when she started her own YouTube channel that she caught the attention of CitySquare. CitySquare WorkPaths Food and Hospitality Program Manager Shanay Wise saw one of her videos and asked Chef Dorsey to come in and do a recipe demo. That began a collaboration that allowed Chef Dorsey to use all the opportunities she had found and start creating them for other people by using her professional training to help neighbors conquer poverty just like she had.

Today, Chef Dorsey is the Executive Chef and Lead Chef Instructor for the new CitySquare Café located in the Opportunity Center on Malcolm X Blvd. Her experiences escaping poverty through skilled work and determination inspire her students and coworkers to persevere and never stop believing in themselves.