New LGBT-Owned Food Truck What Cha Cookin Baby Sets Standard for Real New Orleans Cooking in Atlanta
It was a beautiful spring day in Atlanta. The sun came out to give a full appearance, a light breeze kept the heat at bay and the smell of amazing cooking lingered in the air.
Upon arriving, the scent of Cajun seasoning tickled your nostrils. Everyone hummed with excitement as the preparations for What Cha Cookin' Baby’s official ribbon cutting got underway. And it was well worth the wait.
Chef twins Jada and Branden, born 87 minutes apart in New Orleans, exclusively shares with Gaye Magazine that they have always had an entrepreneurial spirit that they both carried from childhood to adulthood.
Check Out Photos of their Food Truck Grand Opening Below:
Having dealt with trauma at a young age with the murder of their father at the tender age of 10, the siblings shared that they took on several business endeavors to help keep themselves out of trouble. These endeavors ranged from carpentry that enabled them to build dog houses which they sold around New Orleans, to selling bottles of water at the Jazz festival and then a few years later, parking cars at the same festival.
Jada tells us that their business became most popular from selling drinks, which they would later become well known for in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, Branden and Jada found themselves in Dallas. After some time, they felt as though they were stuck. That’s when Branden decided that he wanted to move to Atlanta in June of 2011.
Branden’s first journey to Atlanta was not an easy one. He took what little money he had saved and put it all into his car, only to have it break down in Mississippi a few hours away from New Orleans. Having only his best friend to call on, Branden made it back to New Orleans but this did not break his spirit. He bought a one-way bus ticket that would take him into the city bright and early Monday morning. He was left with $13 to his name.
Both Jada and Brenden say that they’re almost inseparable and so, not long after Brenden made it to Atlanta, Jada soon found herself packing her car and heading in the same direction to join her brother. Jada says her journey wasn’t as tumultuous as Branden’s was; but as fate would have it, her car ran out of gas as soon as she made it in front of his house.
Still feeling like there was more to their calling, Jada decided that New York she fully began her journey as a trans woman. However, as we previously mentioned, the two can’t seem to move without each other and soon after Jada settled in New York, Branden was close behind.
New York marks a very integral point in the journey of the Whatcha Cookin' Baby owners. They both describe it as a moment that they fully came into their own and began to hone their potential as cooks and as individuals. Jada completed her name change, despite transitioning still being considered taboo at the time. Branden told Gaye that this is the point where he felt empowered to come out as gay.
“If she [Jada] could do it, then so could I," said Branden.
The siblings then gained exposure through different avenues including a documentary called "My Identical Twin is Transgender" which gained over 1 million views. They also gained popularity after they began doing impersonations on Instagram (@YourFavTwins) which is where they gained a lot of their popularity.
Jada and Branden both credit a lot of who they are and their love of cooking to their grandmother Betsy Ann; to whom the What Cha Cookin' Baby food truck is dedicated. Jada tells us that a lot of her inspiration came from her grandmother who also used to bake and sell sweet potato pies and coffee in the projects.
They spent a lot of their childhood spending Thanksgiving with their grandmother and say that this is where they developed a lot of their principles and morals. More than anything the twins say in unison that their grandmother advocated that they “represent themselves”.
In their new roles as food truck owners they hope that their meals provide an experience filled with a sense of family. What Cha Cookin' Baby is made with a little sexy and a little sass. It is made for the loud and boisterous, the ones who talk too much and those that enjoy a little jazz with their meals. Jada and Branden want to set the standard for New Orleans cuisine in Atlanta. More than anything, they pour love into their cooking.
Jada prides herself on her cooking, especially her collard greens.
“My greens is backroom Mississippi, I make my greens with love. They back room Mississippi. Behind the church at the cookout."
When asked what message they hope to send to other members of the LGBTQ+ community, Branden tells us that representation matters.
“Be visible. Don’t be afraid.”
Branden tells Gaye that members of the LGBTQ+ family shouldn’t let their sexuality determine their drive or what they believe is out there and available for them.
Jada provides us with a quote that has helped her by an upcoming, openly gay artist named Array from Chasing ATL: “Keep going. Your resume will get you through the door. Your character is what keeps you in the game.”
She hopes to serve as a reminder to trans women that doors of opportunity exist, one just has to open it.
“As a successful trans woman, if I can do it then so can you,” said Jada.
The twins have poured dedication and determination into their food truck. And trust, the food lives up to the hype. The truck will be located at 1699 Slyvan Rd. in southside Atlanta for the next few weeks. So be sure to check them out and follow @whatchacookinbaby on Instagram for more updates.
What Cha Cookin' Baby is pushing the envelope for the entire LGBTQ+ community and is broadening the horizons on what we can all do if we persevere, engage the support of our community and do everything with love. Jada and Branden plan to set the standard for “real New Orleans food in Atlanta, ya gots to know that!”
So be sure to watch out for this dynamic duo and the next time you’re in the city, be sure to get you a plate!