Food & Drink Critics’ Picks 2019

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Chef Joya’s Holiday Dinner Buffet

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12 Charlotte spots to get your mac and cheese fix

Now that fall is here, it’s time to treat your palates to more heartier foods. Nothing says cooler temps like filling up on your favorite comfort dishes — and by comfort dishes, we mean macaroni and cheese. (There is no greater comfort food than mac and cheese. Don’t @ us.)

We know, we know: You probably have your own favorite recipe you prefer to make at home. Be adventurous! Here are 12 Charlotte-area chefs and restaurants that make some pretty awesome versions you’ve got to try.

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FOX 46: Cooking with Joya

Good Day’s Jamal Goss is in the kitchen with Chef Joya, cooking up her version of “Beef” Wellington for National Vegan Month.

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WBTV: Cooking vegan with Chef Joya

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The Vegan Virgin: A First Timer’s Review of An All-Vegan Dinner Party with Chef Joya

Adjoa Courtney, affectionately known as Chef Joya, has successful restaurant collaborations and national cooking titles/awards under her belt.  She recently kicked off a themed dinner party series to create a deliciously entertaining experience for her guests.

As a travel writer and enthusiast, I’ve had more than my fair share of chef’s table tasting menu experiences.  I have to tell you, I’m not vegan nor do I have an active desire to become vegan. I’ve been a happy carnivore all of my life.  My only experiences with substitute ingredients – tofu and bean burgers – had me writing off vegan eating quicker than I can type it.  However, having vegan friends my curiosity about the vegan lifestyle and particularly Chef Joya’s creative vegan cuisine and dinner parties motivated me to attend this intimate multi-course tasting menu.

Chef Joya designed a tasting menu perfectly orchestrated as if she were the maestro of a symphony. This series “Comida Cubana” featured Cuban-inspired food which promised to take foodies on a journey through her Cuban heritage.

While Chef Joya prepared the five-course meal, guests were seated at the outdoor Moroccan-style living room and served a series of tapas. My favorite being Ropa Vieja with Avocado Crema, her vegan take on empanadas. It’s customary to pace yourself with appetizers before a five-course meal, but these tapas were worthy of seconds (and even thirds).

The first course was Guajillo Short Ribz Tacos. Excited yet slightly apprehensive I took one bite of the tacos and was sold from the very first bite. The way she brought each individual ingredient produced only happiness for my tastebuds.

The second course was Cuban White Bean & Collards Bisque. Yes, it is exactly what you may be thinking it is, collard green soup.  Not sure about you, but as much as I love collard greens, I have never had the desire to taste it in soup form.  With an open mind, I dipped my spoon in the bowl and scooped up a hearty taste. Hot damn! Chef Joya wins again. Before I knew it, I found myself tilting my bowl and scraping the bottom to make sure I had every last drop.

The third course was Mango & Shrimp Ceviche.  The first time I tried ceviche was just last year during a culinary trip to Mexico. It was served to me during a picturesque beach-side dinner prepared by an award-winning Executive Chef. That experience is hard to top and makes for a tough act to follow.   Yet again, I found myself falling in love with every vegan bite and secretly wishing I can take any leftovers home. If you’re keeping score its Chef Joya -3, Carnivore – 0 at this point.

Next on the menu was Guava Chik’n & Plantain Waffle served with Cuban Black Beans & Yellow Rice.  Now four courses in, I was sure this meal would be tasty as well. Chef Joya didn’t disappoint. The Chik’n was fried to perfection and the waffle was incredibly flavorful. It is at this time in the evening that I’m thinking about all of the people I know that need to try her food.

The tasting menu concluded with the fifth and final course, Coconut Caramel Flan.  It was a sweet ending to an otherwise savory night.

Each course quickly solidified my new love for creative vegan food. Chef Joya’s creative way of making vegan food. I’m not quite ready to convert just yet but I am looking forward to Chef Joya’s next dinner party in her series of vegan tasting menus.

Want to go? Chef Joya’s next event is listed on her website. Space is limited to keep the dinner parties intimate. Don’t walk but run on over to her website to reserve your spot. Let me know what you think about the experience.


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Transitioning to a Plant-Based – Vegan Lifestyle

Transitioning to a plant-based or vegan lifestyle presents a challenge to many people. Indeed, becoming vegan requires lots of commitment and sacrifice. Are you willing to give up eating animal flesh in exchange for a plant-based lifestyle? ‘COMMUNITY VOICES’ hostRon Holland delved into the issue with renowned Vegan Chef, Joya.

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Meet Adjoa Courtney of Cooking With Joya

Today we’d like to introduce you to Adjoa Courtney.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Adjoa. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was introduced to veganism by my mom when I was just seven years old, and I’ve been into cooking my entire life; but, it became a real career option for me after I did an online vegan challenge in January 2018 to promote veganism to my followers on social media. I would prepare meals for people and give free recipes and cooking demos via Instagram. Later that year I entered Charlotte’s Vegan Mac Down cooking contest. After my mac & cheese recipe won the competition, my name started to spread like wildfire and my food was in high demand. My life as “Chef Joya” began, and I started traveling and doing vegan pop-up dinners and events throughout the Southeast. My events have a tendency to sell out quickly everywhere I go.

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t been easy, and definitely not a smooth road. But it’s been a great journey so far, and I refuse to let any obstacles in my path make me take my eyes of the prize. I am thankful to be where I am on this journey.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I’m a Personal Chef who specializes in vegan and plant-based cuisine and the owner of Cooking With Joya, LLC. I am known most for my vegan comfort food inspired by Southern, African, Afro-Caribbean, and French cuisines. What sets me a part and makes me different from other chefs is my ability to “veganize” traditional recipes that typically contain meat and other animal products. I also host a series of private, upscale fine dining events where I’m able to be super creative and explore an array of gourmet dishes with different cultural themes. When people are inspired by my cooking and love what I am able to provide, that makes me the most proud. This is why I became a personal chef, so that I could give joy to others through my food.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Absolutely, Atlanta is perfect. Atlanta has embraced me so far and I feel like this is going to be a great market. I’m excited to see what’s in store for me here.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 917-242-7900
  • Email:
  • Instagram: Cookingwithjoya
  • Facebook: cookingwithjoya

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Team Black Girl Fly Week crowns Charlotte’s grassroots queens

If you’ve been feeling elevated levels of magic in the air, blame it on the return of Team Black Girl Fly on Oct. 1-6.

The platform that reminds women entrepreneurs and activists that they’re “fly in all their authenticity,” as founder Davita Galloway said, has grown from a one-day celebration to a full week of recognition, empowerment and full-on fun.

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Charlotte Chefs Draw Inspiration From Hip-Hop for Pop-Ups

Themed dinners in Charlotte, North Carolina, once inconsistent, stutter-stop anomalies supported primarily by friends of young chefs, have become the social events of the season. Celebrated chefs and intimate settings lend an air of exclusivity to the affairs, which sell out quickly and dominate social media timelines for days after. This summer saw dozens of such events, and more are scheduled as fall approaches. From hip-hop heads to Caribbean history buffs, there’s something on the menu for everyone.

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