Tia Berry grew up cooking. But she didn’t grow up cooking healthfully. “My grandmother taught me to cook. And everything was full butter, full fat, and fried,” said Berry. “To this day, bacon is my weakness.”
Her relationship with food changed when she attended culinary school. She began to refine her craft and soon showcased her healthful cooking during a regular segment on the local news. From there, she began cooking demonstrations for the American Heart Association (AHA).
Today, Berry manages the AHA’s Simple Cooking with Heart Kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland. The kitchen is the first of its kind in the nation. It offers hands-on cooking classes that are open to the public. For $5, participants cook a heart-healthy meal and leave with four servings to share with family. “If you want to be healthy, you cannot be the only person in your home eating healthful foods,” said Berry. “So we encourage class participants to involve their families by sharing what they’ve made.”
Berry knows firsthand the impact family can have on diet. “Both my grandparents had diabetes. My grandmother had quadruple bypass surgery. And my favorite aunt died of a massive heart attack at age 53,” she said. “That’s what attracted me to the American Heart Association. The organization allows me to help other people – but it helps me as well, because I know what a struggle it can be to eat healthfully.”
Simple Cooking with Heart Kitchen’s mission is to build healthier lives, free from cardiovascular disease and stroke, by changing the way people eat. “Some people come in begrudgingly. But they always leave class surprised. And they often come back,” she said.
The response from the community has been overwhelming. There is now a waiting list for most classes.
This impact motivates Berry. “Food has always been my passion. But as an adult, eating healthfully has become my passion,” she said. “I never want to be a burden on my family. I want to be here for my child. I want to enjoy life. And that’s why I do what I do.”
Simple Cooking with Heart® is a registered trademark of the American Heart Association.
Tia Berry is a chef and kitchen manager dedicated to cooking healthfully–and sharing her knowledge with others.
Ms. Berry is currently the kitchen manager for the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart® Kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland, where the public can attend cooking classes focused on preparing heart-healthy meals.
Her professional kitchen experience includes positions at T.G.I. Friday’s, Mt. Vernon Hotel’s Bay Atlantic Café and DuClaw Brewing Company. She also served as a teaching assistant for the nutrition cooking lab at Maryland University of Integrative Health in Laurel, Maryland.
Ms. Berry is a 2013 graduate of Stratford University’s Culinary Management program. While attending the program Ms. Berry regularly led cooking demonstrations on Fox 45’s Morning News Show and prepared food for cooking shows on Maryland Public Television. As part of the university’s recruitment efforts, she led cooking demonstrations at high schools throughout Maryland.
Ms. Berry has trained under master pastry chef Jan Bandula, and well-known local chefs Derrick Purcell and Eric Yeager. She has worked closely with Andrew Zimmern, award-winning host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods.
Ms. Berry is a member of the American Culinary Federation and is a certified culinarian and pastry culinarian. Learn more at heart.org/baltimorekitchen.