Two Indy Chefs are Ready to Change the “Fast Food” Game

Tawana Gulley and Faith Jackson are trying to make fast food healthier and more affordable.
Featured Image - Two Chefs

Most of us want to choose food that tastes good without it being over-processed or filled with excess salt and sugar. However, a lack of time for cooking leads many of us to head to a fast food drive-thru or our favorite restaurant for curbside pickup. Two Indianapolis-area women business owners, Tawana Gulley and Faith Jackson are doing their part to try to change that by offering convenient, healthier food options. Gulley is the owner of Healthy Soul Indy and Jackson owns Flavor by Faith.

Gulley, 47, who is from Evansville, grew up cooking in her aunt’s kitchen. “I think that she saw I had a love for it, so she took me under her wing,” Gulley said. However, Gulley initially did not pursue cooking as a career. She had a job where she was “sitting at a desk most times 12 hours a day.” After a diagnosis of diabetes, Gulley decided to lose weight and hire a personal trainer. Meal prepping became an important part of her weight loss plan, and it worked. She lost 135 pounds. She would give meals to her coworkers who would rave about how good they were.

Gulley said her trainer had one of her healthy meals and encouraged her to create the meals on a larger scale. She launched the meal prep and catering business in 2019.

Healthy Soul then became a vendor at The AMP in July 2021. Some of the items on the menu are shrimp and veggie jumbo eggrolls and build-your-own bowls where customers choose a base, vegetables, a protein, and a sauce. Prices range from $10 to $20 depending on what is ordered, and customers can order To Go or eat onsite in The Amp’s food court.

She said she sources as much local produce as possible and “that most of our greens, kale, spinach, and green onions are from the farmers market.” Gulley serves Halal-certified beef, chicken, lamb, and wild-caught shrimp, salmon, and scallops.

“Halal means that the animal has to be humanely bred, fed, and slaughtered according to Islamic law,” Gulley said. While she is not of that faith, she said she believes the meats are better quality.

When asked to describe her cooking or food style, she refers to it as an Afro-Asian hibachi with a Caribbean feel. “It’s really just a mash-up of African cuisine, Asian, and Thai cuisine all rolled into one,” she said.

Jackson is passionate about people knowing where their food comes from. Her businesses, Flavor by Faith and Indy’s Culinary & Farmer Hub, reflect that mission.

She has a meal prep service, corporate and specialty catering, and gardening courses through Flavor by Faith. “I offer garden to table,” Jackson, 40, said. “I grow most of my produce, however, the produce that I don’t grow I source locally.”

Jackson, an Indianapolis native, has three urban lots and one rural lot that she uses for gardens. She also offers community-supported agriculture. “We have a farm egg subscription and veggie subscription, where you can get your fresh veggies every week,” she said.

She obtains chicken and grass-fed beef from locally or regionally owned farms. Jackson also uses salmon and shrimp in meals but does not use pork. Some of her non-meat fare includes vegan wild mushroom soup and almond mushroom alfredo. Customers can also choose their own meals by selecting a protein, a carb, and a veggie from a list of ingredients here. Her meals range in price from $14 to $20.

Some of Jackson’s typical customers are “individuals who are transitioning into eating healthier,” she said. “And they don’t know exactly what to cook.” Some customers request one-on-one classes where she teaches them how to prepare the food.

One of the goals of her other business, Indy’s Culinary & Farmer Hub, is to help entrepreneurs who need a shared kitchen or ghost kitchen. “Those who don’t have their own brick and mortar are allowed to rent my certified kitchen by the hour,” Jackson said. “They can come in 24 hours a day and prepare their food.” She said they also can use the space for order pickups and other food-related tasks. Additional services that the hub offers are listed here.

Indy Maven contributor Diane Moore is a food enthusiast eager to try meals from Healthy Soul Indy and Flavor by Faith. You can follow Diane on Instagram @whatdianeloves.

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