Lawrence Page stars in a new WEtv docu-series, Hustle & Soul. The six-episode, one-hour series follows Page, owner and head chef of The Pink Tea Cup restaurant in New York, on his quest to rise to the next level and score a coveted Michelin star.
Viewers will witness Page struggle to find the perfect recipe for success while managing a dramatic staff and personal love triangles. Along the way, he and his team will learn that it takes more than just good cooking to become Michelin elite.
In the wild premiere episode, Chef Lawrence’s mission to elevate soul food is thwarted by his flirtatious ways with his bartender Candice. His girlfriend and general manager Ana is jealous and her plans to punish Candice get out of control. The resulting hater, bickering and cat fighting certainly left this writer wondering if his staff truly has what it takes to become Michelin elite.
What misconceptions do people have about soul food and how would you like to change that?
Chef Lawrence: I can’t really answer about everybody has misconceptions with soul food. I just know what I want to do. I really want to elevate soul food to the next level. I want to let them know that yes, a lot of African-Americans grew up on soul food and sometimes we feel that because we grew up on it, it can’t be fine dining. I disagree with that. My job as a chef is to make sure I elevate it to the Michelin star status and let people know that soul food is being cooked very unique and differently with a twist on it.
What do you appreciate most about life in NYC and how does the city support the narrative of this series?
Very important because it was one of the first African-American restaurants in New York City, since 1954. So New Yorkers have a loyalty to the place to see it around because it was always a safe haven for famous people. So it’s very important that New Yorkers want to play a part in this… to watch this reality show because I saved the place. I brought it back to life.
The ups and downs and going through so many things and to be able to bring it back. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of New York. So whatever happens with this show, New Yorkers are gonna love it because they are a part of The Pink Teacup.
In the premiere episode, there’s a lot of chicken and waffles being cooked up in your kitchen. So if there’s one soul food dish everyone should master, what should it be?
Fried chicken, mac-n-cheese and collard greens.
I pray to God. (laughs). Every time I go to work I say, “God give me strength to be able to deal with each and everybody here.” Because I’ve learned to realize that they’re family and when you have family in your life it gets very challenging, and sometimes you have to deal with those family members on different levels and that’s what I learned to deal with. Instead of just throwing them away, I try to work with them. But it can be very challenging so I do what I can.
Why was a reality show the obvious next step in your career and how are you hoping to use this vehicle to help build your brand?
Well it’s a very important step because I’m after a Michelin star, and I think to be able to get that Michelin star, I want the world to see what I go through and how I challenge this restaurant to try to get that Michelin star, or even ask for it. I know it’s a very lofty idea but nothing’s going to stop me from getting it, and next year I hope to achieve that. I want the world to see that it’s important to me to elevate soul food and take it to the next level because soul food deserves Michelin star status along with the other Michelin star chefs around the world. I should be the first African-American to get a Michelin star. That’s my goal.
If you could cook a meal for a celebrity, who would it be and what would you cook?
I would cook anything to their liking that has to do with soul food. And who would it be? I haven’t met them yet.
If you could tell the home cooks of the world one thing, what would it be?
Find your soul and hustle it because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to deliver in that kitchen.
Tune in to Hustle & Soul Thursday at 10/9c on WE tv.