Taste of the Soul

By: Andrea Davis and Daniela Toporek

Her whole life has always been about everyone else, about what she can do for others. Brunch is her baby and is a way for her to stay tied to her roots while bringing the community together.

That’s how Assistant Sous Chef Tanya White feels about the brunch she started with the help of the staff of Vernon’s Restaurant at the Marriott Sawgrass Spa and Golf Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

One would think with all the experience Chef White has behind her belt she has gone to culinary school; but instead she gained most of her experience working in fast food and under the mentoring of the chefs above her.

“If you can read a recipe you can cook,” White says about how she feels working in the kitchen. “But add in that passion and that drive to it, it’s just something that is inside of you. I love it.”

Being in the kitchen wasn’t something that White always wanted to do. When she lived in Tennessee, before finding her home at the Marriott, she had dreams to be a school teacher. While in school, everything she did brought her back to her love of food, being able to make it, eat it and all the precious memories that came with it.

“If I had to say I started anywhere, it would have to be my grandmother’s kitchen.” White said recalling a memory at her grandmother’s. “ I remember she used to gather the neighborhood children together and give us pillowcases with apples.  It was our job to squeeze the juices out so that she could make apple jelly.”

Family plays an important role in the life of Chef White. The team she works with make the magic of the brunches come alive because they work together like a family. White has even earned the nickname “Mama T” while in the kitchen. The idea of the brunch itself is to focus on people spending time with their families without feeling rushed.

The brunches are built off different themes to make every meal an unforgettable one. Live entertainment, themed foods and a children’s area complete the experience, keeping guests on their toes with new surprises and a hunger for more.

She hopes that the themes and the experience of dining with friends and family will keep people returning, bringing with them new ideas and new experiences. She can be found at Vernon’s in the kitchen or mingling with the guests, but brunch will always be her baby and she can’t wait to share it with more people in the future.

WATCH Andrea and Daniela’s Story Here