Credit: Kysha Harris photo

It is my birthday month and I am ready for my 50th post-pandie do-over. Last year I spent the four days prior to my day driving the five boroughs and two of the Tri States to celebrate with family and friends. It filled my soul and my spirit and got me through, though my birthday, May 25, took a backseat to the senseless murder of George Floyd…say his name!

What a difference a year makes as we continue to move forward and the light at the end of the tunnel starts to become blinding. I am happily vaccinated and confident, though wounded and changed forever; we emerge resilient and strong.

Last year, while on a virtual dais for the James Beard Foundation about personal branding, I coined a phrase to speak to the moment: “Do not let this period define you, let it refine you.” In other words, do not focus on the walls (your limits), focus on whittling down the arrow (your skills and passion) to break through them.

Entrepreneurs are primed to be resilient in these times, to create opportunities, to always look to improve on the last one and to keep an eye out for the next one. I have heard plenty of testimonies from entrepreneur friends that 2020 was a profitable year, whatever phase they were in their entrepreneurial journey.

One of the best examples of “refine, not define” is my sister-friend Chef Rasheeda Purdie and her new business, Ramen by Rā. You might have seen this queen in the Red Rooster kitchen working with Chef Marcus Samuelsson and producing some incredible experiences, like her Juneteenth event in 2019. And if you do not know her and love some ramen, please get at her stat!

Chef Rasheeda refined her love of ramen, cooking and her heritage and created an experience, currently in pick-up format, into a growing business that sells out quickly. I was so grateful to snag her latest masterpiece in celebration of the arrival of spring and its ubiquitous symbol, the cherry blossom.

The Ramen by Rā three-course cherry blossom dinner was a transformative dining experience presented on Easter Sunday and on National Ramen Day. I made sure to dress the part in a vintage cotton kimono. Chef Rasheeda greeted me in a cherry blossom adorned dress and that signature smile.

I take you through the experience bite by bite below, but that is just the icing on a refined cake made of a strong, independent woman who, in the midst of a pandemic, sharpened her arrow and broke through. I salute you queen. Great work.

Happy eating, stay safe, wear a mask and thanks for reading.

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 18 years. She is the new Food Editor at www.TheSpruceEats.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPnyc, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc.

Questions, comments, requests, feedback, invitations! Email us at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD,