Chef Keyon Hammond: Stirring Up Success with Get Plated

A Culinary Visionary: The Journey Begins

In the bustling heart of Washington, D.C., where power lunches and policy discussions dominate, Chef Keyon Hammond is stirring the pot in a different way. As the CEO and co-founder of Get Plated, a luxury catering company, Chef Hammond isn’t just crafting exquisite meals; he’s creating a legacy of community, culture, and culinary excellence.

A Culinary Calling: The Spark of Inspiration

Chef Keyon Hammond’s journey into the culinary arts was sparked by the adversity of his childhood and a serendipitous discovery of his passion for food. At the age of 12, living through tough times with his family, the kitchen—curiously located in the basement of his great grandmother’s home—became his sanctuary. Here, alongside his brother and inspired by culinary giants like Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart, he found both solace and inspiration. “One particular memory that stands out is making donuts from Pillsbury biscuits,” Hammond recalls. “We’d sneak into the kitchen, use the ketchup bottle cap to cut out holes, and fry them up, topping them with powdered sugar. It wasn’t just about eating but creating something delicious from so little.” This wasn’t merely a diversion; it was a profound revelation of cooking’s power to uplift spirits and transform lives. These formative experiences did more than distract; they shaped a clear vision of his future, turning the kitchen into a place where young Keyon could wield creativity and control. Hammond’s path from a curious youth engrossed in cooking shows to a classically trained chef and successful entrepreneur highlights a life shaped by the transformative power of culinary art, fueling a dream that led him to professional acclaim and personal fulfillment.

Choosing the Path: Culinary Education at Baltimore International College

Driven by a profound passion for cooking and strategic foresight, Chef Keyon Hammond embarked on his professional culinary journey at Baltimore International College immediately after high school in 2005. Recognizing the college’s rigorous and immersive culinary program, he seized the opportunity to hone his skills in an environment that melded challenge with support. “I chose Baltimore International because it was renowned for its practical, hands-on experiences and a strong emphasis on classical French cuisine, which broadened my culinary perspective and expertise,” Hammond explains. This educational endeavor was more than mastering recipes; it was an immersive experience in understanding the science and art of each dish, coupled with developing essential management skills and a professional demeanor that would hallmark his career. Reflecting on the significance of this period, Hammond notes, “Attending Baltimore International College was a pivotal step, transforming me from an enthusiast into a professional chef equipped with the knowledge and confidence needed to navigate the competitive culinary world.” This crucial phase not only sharpened his culinary abilities but also laid the foundational stones for Get Plated, his own flourishing catering company, marking the beginning of a distinguished career that blends culinary artistry with entrepreneurial spirit.

Innovating Legacy: Establishing Get Plated

Creating Get Plated was not just a business decision for Chef Keyon Hammond; it was a groundbreaking step toward shaping a legacy within the African American community. “When we started Get Plated, it was about much more than food—it was about crafting a space where we could be leaders, innovators, and mentors within our community,” Chef Hammond reflects. As one of the few upscale catering businesses in the DMV area owned and operated by a Black entrepreneur, Get Plated represents a significant milestone. Hammond is acutely aware of the rarity and responsibility of his position. “We’re paving the way for future generations of Black entrepreneurs in hospitality,” he states proudly. The impact of Get Plated extends beyond the exceptional dining experiences it offers; it serves as a beacon of possibility and excellence. Hammond is committed to demonstrating that with vision, hard work, and community support, boundaries can be transcended. “Every event we cater, every young chef of color we mentor, we’re building something bigger than ourselves—something lasting,” he concludes, emphasizing the dual purpose of his enterprise as both a business and a transformative community force.

Partners in Life and Business: A Unique Collaboration

For Chef Keyon Hammond, being a husband is as fundamental to his identity as his culinary expertise, seamlessly blending his personal and professional lives with his wife, Alexandria. Together, they founded Get Plated, a reflection of their shared vision to control their destiny and cherish family time. “Starting Get Plated was really about controlling my own time and spending time with my family,” Chef Hammond reveals. Alexandria is not only his life partner but also a pivotal business partner, with their offices side by side, a dynamic many would find challenging but they manage with exceptional grace and effective communication. “Alexandria isn’t just my wife; she’s the backbone of Get Plated,” he says, highlighting the profound integration of their personal commitment and professional collaboration. This partnership demands continuous nurturing and deep mutual respect, essential for navigating the pressures of business and family life. Reflecting on nearly fifteen years of marriage, Hammond acknowledges the complexity and dedication involved: “Working with your spouse every day is not easy, but it’s worth every challenge. It makes us stronger.” This robust partnership not only anchors their family but also strengthens their business, setting a powerful example of successful collaboration for their team and children.

Culture in the Kitchen: Fostering a Supportive Workplace

Chef Hammond’s philosophy extends beyond the kitchen. He believes in nurturing his team, fostering an environment that prioritizes personal growth and unity. “We started a culture club… We come together monthly, talk about personal values, company core values,” he shares, outlining the proactive steps Get Plated takes to ensure it remains a rewarding place to work.

The Art of Recipe Development: Blending Traditions and Tastes

The culinary maestro is also passionate about recipe development, a skill he describes with animated enthusiasm. “It’s about feeling your way through the kitchen, checking for balance, salty versus sweet,” Chef Hammond illustrates. This passion is evident when he discusses creating dishes that merge cultural traditions, like blending Jewish and Nigerian flavors for a wedding, ensuring guests experience a culinary representation of their united heritages.

Ambitions Beyond the Plate: Building a Legacy

Chef Keyon Hammond and his team at Get Plated have catered to an impressive roster of clients and venues, showcasing their versatility and excellence in the culinary world. From high-profile political figures to luxurious private events, Get Plated has left its mark across various significant venues and occasions.

One notable client is Vice President Kamala Harris. Get Plated has had the privilege of catering several events for her, including her first personal party at the Naval Observatory—the official residence of the Vice President. This event was particularly special as it marked the first gathering she hosted there post-COVID. Moreover, Get Plated was chosen to cater the inaugural Juneteenth barbecue at the Vice President’s home, an event that hosted 400 guests, highlighting the trust and respect Get Plated has earned from high-ranking government officials.

In addition to catering for Vice President Harris, Get Plated has been involved in numerous events across the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area. They have served at prestigious country clubs, major corporate functions, and luxury weddings, integrating their unique culinary creations that blend diverse cultural flavors.

The variety of clients and the scale of events that Get Plated handles illustrate the company’s capacity to adapt and excel in different settings—from intimate gatherings to large-scale celebrations. Each event is an opportunity for Chef Hammond and his team to further cement their reputation as a top-tier catering company in one of the country’s most competitive markets.

Fatherhood and Personal Growth: A Chef’s Reflection

For Chef Keyon Hammond, fatherhood is a profoundly transformative journey, deeply intertwined with both his personal and professional life. Initially gripped by fears of repeating past mistakes due to growing up without a father, Hammond has evolved into a proud and dedicated father and role model for his sons, Keyon Junior and Gavin. These boys are not only the heart of his family but also the inspiration for the future he envisions. Reflecting on his growth, Hammond shares, “Fatherhood was scary in the beginning—I was 25 when KJ was born, and it felt like my independence was at stake. But once he was here, something changed in me.” This transformative experience has reshaped him from an emotional thinker to a more logical, balanced one, a shift he attributes directly to the challenges and joys of raising his sons. “Having boys has groomed me in ways I wouldn’t have mastered without them,” he admits. For Hammond, being a father means transcending traditional roles and being a constant, supportive presence in his sons’ lives, aiming to be their biggest supporter and role model. “It’s about showing up every day,” he states with pride and resolve. This deep commitment to fatherhood enriches his life significantly and brings a greater depth of meaning and purpose to his culinary career, reinforcing his identity not just as a chef, but as a mentor and leader both at home and in the kitchen.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Get Plated

Chef Keyon Hammond’s story is more than a tale of culinary achievement; it is a testament to the power of resilience, vision, and unwavering commitment to one’s dreams. From the humble beginnings of a kitchen in Baltimore to the prestigious events in Washington D.C., Chef Hammond has not only risen as a leader in the culinary industry but also as a pillar in his community. His journey reflects a profound dedication to excellence, an unrelenting drive to innovate, and a heartfelt desire to nurture and give back to the community that shaped him. Through Get Plated, Chef Hammond has created not just a business, but a movement, blending the art of food with the essence of family and the spirit of entrepreneurship. His life’s work serves as a beacon of inspiration, showing that with passion, perseverance, and purpose, every challenge can be transformed into a stepping stone towards greatness. As Chef Hammond continues to set tables where conversations blossom and relationships deepen, his legacy promises to influence and uplift countless others, proving that the heart of cooking lies not just in the flavors that tantalize the palate but in the memories and bonds that flavor our lives.

You can follow Keyon @chefkeyonhammond and you can learn more about Get Plated by visiting https://www.getplateddc.com/ or following @getplatedDC.

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