27-year-old Kansas City chef brings pop-up to alma mater town Emporia

Someone You Should Know

EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT)– A Kansas City woman is starting her own catering business at the age of 27, bringing her skills to Northeast Kansas.

The Kauffman Foundation and Duke University found the average age of a business owner is 40-years-old. Shandelyn Stewart is living her dreams and opening a business at 27.

Stewart attended Flint Hills College in Emporia for culinary school where she got her professional start into cooking. She opened The Food Shaq a year ago. It’s a catering company that does pop-ups at different places like Gravel City Adventure in Emporia.

Since graduation, her food has taken her many places, cooking for people she didn’t expect.

“It’s taken me really far,” Shandelyn said. “I’ve made a lot of connections. I’ve got to cook for City Council, the mayor. I’ve done a lot of partnerships with the YMCA. Got to meet a lot of great people. It’s been really great.”

“Her drive, and her passion for cooking,” Janice Cook said, Shandelyn’s mom and right-hand-woman. “She took it and just ran with it. She knew what she wanted to do. She did it in a short period of time, and her business is just growing.”

Stewart has also been a personal chef for an NFL player. For two weeks, she cooked for former Bronco Shane Ray, who she actually went to high school with.

Stewart said right now she doesn’t plan to open a restaurant. She just wants to keep doing pop-ups.

“Not necessarily a restaurant, but more of like a pop up for people to come in on the weekends,” Shandelyn said. “Couple hours of the week. Sit down, eat. Vibe out, have a great time. So that’s what I’m pushing to do next.”

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