Today we’d like to introduce you to Chef Cynthia Nevels.
Chef Cynthia Nevels’ son Tyler was born with Cystic Fibrosis. In 2010, the 16-year-old was added to the UNOS organ transplant list. Nevels got serious about cooking whole organic foods to help prolong his life. She studied biology and chemistry. She cooked for friends and family and eventually for executives in the health care industry. They all encouraged her to share the goodness of her vegan and vegetarian meals made with whole foods.
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In 2012, she launched Soulgood. She opened a stand at the Dallas Farmers Market where she offered vegetarian hot dogs, veggie burgers, and other dishes created with non-GMO, organic, and locally sourced ingredients.
Nevels published Soulful Vegetarian Cooking: A Southern Girl’s Meaty Love Affair and Journey to Natural Foods on Instagram. Eventually, the series was printed as a hardcover book. In 2014, she was recruited for CNBC’s Restaurant Startup and featured on Harry Connick, Jr.’s nationally syndicated television show Harry.
Her head for business has not gone unnoticed. Nevels is Managing Director and Principal Consultant with Integrality and formerly served as Alumni Manager for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in Dallas. She also serves as a mentor for United Way’s GroundFloor Accelerator program and is an investor in a new AI installation firm ThatIsSmart.com. She also manages Soulgood’s food truck and catering business.
Sadly, her son, the inspiration for Soulgood, passed away on July 23, 2015. Nevels works daily to share Tyler’s legacy. She is devoted to improving lives through love, food, and laughter. Nevels raises funds to feed homeless children, to give back to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to find a cure, and is currently recruiting team members who want to work to help serve more healthy plant-based foods to families in food deserts in low-income communities.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
“People thought I was crazy to start a vegan/vegetarian food truck in Texas and I didn’t think I was crazy [at all],” Nevels said.
The concept is working for Nevels though and growing in popularity across Dallas.
“We were recently voted best food truck, not even in a vegan or vegetarian category, but in Dallas, by the Dallas Observer. When I found out I cried literally when I saw that because as a startup plant-based company in the South that’s saying something,” Nevels said.
Starting, managing and growing this business has taken every penny and muscle I have left in me after caring for my terminally ill son for 21 years. However, I am not a stranger to adversity, hard work, long and sleepless nights. I had to teach myself everything I know about the food industry, managing a mobile restaurant and how to maximize my assets to yield results. The easy part for me is managing the customers because I instinctively love people and care about others – it is who I am and always will be in the future. I learned, when I was a young girl, that I had three gifts. The first, being a great listener, the second, never being afraid to work hard and the third is being a strategic problem solver. There isn’t a problem I can’t face and figure out a solution on my feet. Growing up the oldest in a single-parent middle-class home in Grand Prairie taught me how to be an independent thinker.
So, on the days when the cash is low, the equipment is failing, the food is cooking too slow or the weather won’t let us be great – I use my book knowledge and my instincts to make it all work and ensure we give the people what they want and what they need to live healthy lives. That’s all my son ever wanted but he never complained – not one day and he went through hell. So, I have no right to complain either.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
Cynthia Nevels is known as the “The Go-To-Lady” when it comes to business management and social innovation. She is an investor, mentor and a thought leader who has helped public and private organizations overcome insurmountable management, marketing, technology, strategy, and operational obstacles. For 15 years, Cynthia has served as Managing Director with Integrality LLC, a global business management consulting firm serving clients in major markets around the globe. She’s an expert in finance, marketing, social entrepreneurship, information technology, and strategic planning. She is also an investor in a local AI startup called ThatIsSmart.com. Cynthia formerly served as the Alumni Manager and Senior Business Advisor for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in Dallas supporting multi-million dollar enterprises across North Texas. She owns and operates the award-winning vegan and vegetarian food truck called Soulgood serving Dallas/Fort Worth. She was was recently featured on Harry Connick Jr.’s nationally syndicated television show and 97.9 The Beat DFW she Represents.
For over 15 years, Cynthia has become an integral part of helping clients meet their goals. Clients such as Capital One Bank, Palo Alto Software, Dallas County Community College District, Denton County Transportation Authority, LiftFund, RealPage, Wells Fargo, City of Austin, Tarrant County College, and Stella McCartney Enterprises.
Nevels recently joined the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ team of innovative mentors for the heralded GroundFloor Accelerator. She is currently a mentor for Texas Woman’s University’s Women in Business Center and a social innovation expert and speaker. She currently serves on the board of the Marcus Graham Project, Inc. In 2012, she was appointed to serve on Chicago’s Task Force for Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise. During her career in Silicon Valley, she served as Global Program Manager for the leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Siebel Systems, Inc. (now Oracle).
What were you like growing up?
Remember Michael J. Fox’s character Alex P. Keaton on the American sitcom Family Ties? Remember, how he always wore a suit to high school and carried a briefcase? That was me. I often dressed and looked like the teacher.
I’ve always been different in school. I attended South Grand Prairie High School with peers like mayoral candidate, Jason Villalba, we were in AP classes together and Reggie Barnes former Oklahoma Sooner and Dallas Cowboy NFL football player.
I was mature for my age, did well in school academically, was a cheerleader and served on student council. I’ve been driven and a leader since middle school after one of my teachers noticed how shy and quiet I was in middle school and took interest in encouraging me to be bold and stand out. I was the dependable one, the one with the agenda and the list, the note taker and the yearbook staff member. I had a plan from day one and that plan was to do something great, something big helping people, and something extraordinary with my life. Although, I completed my degree in Psychology at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), began my second degree in Accounting at TWU, and started my graduate studies in Marketing at Southern Methodist University – I recognized those fields utilized a great deal of the logical side of who I am and gave me the fundamental technical skills I need to run successful projects and businesses over the years. But, my creative artistic side – I realized that gift came from my biological father who was in the Air Force and an extraordinary – genius, artist, chef, and writer. I didn’t know my father well, but I heard stories about who he was before he became ill and I recognized the creative traits he had were in me and once I discovered them in the kitchen my life changed completely and I found purpose from my pain.
- Address: 1808 South Good Latimer Expressway
Dallas, Texas 75256
- Website: www.eatsoulgood.com
- Phone: 1-877-601-3211
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: Instagram @eatsoulgood
- Facebook: Facebook @eatsoulgood
- Twitter: Twitter @eatsoulgood
- Other: LinkedIn @CynthiaNevels
Ari Tulton, Cynthia Nevels