RBL Spotlight: Chef extraordinaire Tamearra Dyson

Contender Tamearra Dyson enters the kitchen, as seen on Beat Bobby Flay, Season 30.

Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity on a daily basis. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate wonderful human beings, like, Chef Tamearra Dyson with us.

Chef Tamearra Dyson was a single mother with zero capital when she opened her first restaurant in 2009 with about $20 something dollars in the cash register and built it from there.

This 2,700 ft location now serves as the flagship location. Since Covid 2020, Chef Dyson has opened three Souley Vegan ghost kitchens in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  In addition, Tamearra has recently opened a sister location that sits right behind the original Souley Vegan location in Oakland.

The new restaurant is called “The Back Porch, which a Cajun bar with upscale bites and serves as a “little sister” to Souley Vegan. Yum.

Recently beating Bobby Flay on the January 20, 2022 episode A Deal to Beat Bobby Flay was the culmination of her years of hard work and her passion and creativity of vegan cooking. Having been on The Food Network a few times before but appearing on Building Bobby Flay was something that chef Dyson is terribly excited about. Chef Dyson holds so much respect for Chef Flay, not only for what he’s accomplished but how far he has come with his work and dedication. 

Chef Dyson having come from an extremely underprivileged background enjoys motivational speaking, mentoring others, and of course, the obvious…creating new recipes.  Public speaking is her passion, and she wishes to one day have more time to dive into this area as she feels that she has a lot to share. Her wish is to inspire and motivate others, 

Chef Dyson has accumulated many accolades from best vegan restaurant to best soul food restaurant to being voted one of the top 10 soul food restaurants in the country by USA Today. She was also voted entrepreneur of the week by Black Enterprise.  She has served celebrities such as Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, and Eric Benét. Additionally, her okra gumbo was voted a Weight Watchers favorite for Oprah Winfrey‘s “2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus” tour. 

Chef Dyson has been invited to speak at Tesla, several colleges, and the list goes on. Her goal is to have a future cooking show and speaking engagements, allowing her to share her story with others.

Let’s meet the Chef:

What’s your origin story?

I started Souley Vegan in November of 2006. One prerequisite away from nursing school, single mother with no savings, I felt I had something to offer the world. In the process of launching Souley Vegan at a local farmers market, I lost everything. Having left my job to pursue my dream – I was evicted from my apartment, my car was repossessed, and the list goes on and on. Anything that could happen did happen…however, my will to succeed was stronger than my adversities.

How did you get into the Restaurant industry?

My life’s career path was nursing prior to Souley Vegan and I had no prior food service experience – I opened my restaurant in Jack London Square where we’ve now been for thirteen years in 2009 and I learned as we grew.

Who were your mentors?

I had no mentors. I was not aware I needed them in the beginning. I had my determination to succeed and a willingness to weather what storm came my way. Actually, I’m sure if I had an advisor at the time, they would have told me it was not a logical decision to open a restaurant with zero capital, which it wasn’t! However, this experience made me who I am and helps to make me who I am going to be and I would not change it for the world…

While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

Expanding to five locations during a worldwide pandemic.

What drives you to create?

That’s a great question…I think it’s who I have naturally become based on circumstances.

What TV series or movies are portraying powerful, inspirational Black images in 2021?

I really don’t watch much TV, but I have caught some of Queen Sugar and the dynamics are incredible. I love that show particularly, as I am a fan of the woman that fights so hard to protect her crops/ land.

What is the biggest challenge to Black people in your industry?


REELated: Read about others on The Reel Black List

How has having the superpower of your Blackness helped you?

The experiences that I have chosen have helped to make me stronger.

If Black culture is your superpower, what is your kryptonite?

My superpower is my faith in God. I have no Kryptonite!

When you’re not creating, what do you do in your off time?

I spend time with loved ones. Travel. Create new recipes. Dream of Souley Vegan’s expansion.

Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?

The owner of a successful franchise.

To find Tamearra on social media:

IG @IamTamearraDyson

IG @SouleyVegan

Twitter TamearraDyson

Linkedin Tamearra Dyson

Website TamearraDyson.com

Website Souleyvegan.com

Nominate Someone You know For 4th Annual The Reel Black List OR Reel Women