Owners on a mission to deliver ‘cooking from the heart’
The Black-owned business Taste of Soul is a family establishment created by Corey and Yvette Williams.
In this restaurant at 2723 S. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand, you can find amazing options of Black cuisine. The Taste of Soul business venture was a long time in the making for Corey and Yvette.
Both of them have held multiple titles and roles, from real estate agent to manager. Now, together, they are restaurant owners.
The family business has been able to sustain itself through the global pandemic, and is now in its fifth year. The theme and basis of the restaurant – soul food – is made very distinct by the owners.
“Sometimes people think soul food and Southern food are the same,” Yvette Williams said. “For us, we think soul food is about building relationships, cooking from the heart, recipes that have been passed down from generations, and just a general concern for people and their palates.”
Pouring that philosophy into their meals has enabled all kinds of people to enjoy delicious recipes passed down through generations at Taste of Soul. You can taste the love, the emphasis on family, and the care that go into the making of the meals.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Yvette adopted the process of never planning the menu too far ahead.
“One thing about the similarities in my experience and how we do things here at the restaurant: My momma never planned a menu, until the night before,” she said.
The restaurant does, however, have items that always remain on the menu. Fried chicken and mac-and-cheese, for example, will always be available to hungry members of the community.
For my meal, I stuck to the “staple items”: fried chicken, mac-and-cheese and cornbread. I was pretty sure I was eating some of the best soul food offered in DeLand.
The chicken was the perfect balance between soft and crunchy. I wanted more after every bite.
“People want fried chicken,” Yvette said. “It doesn’t compare to what you have in chain restaurants.”
Balancing out the chicken was the mac-and-cheese.
While Yvette and I were talking, we saw a fresh new tray of this delectable item being placed out, ready to serve to customers.
“Homemade baked mac-and-cheese. Love it!” Yvette exclaimed.
We shared our excitement for this dish, and discussed the different types of cheeses used in the Taste of Soul recipe.
The last item on my plate was the cornbread. This dissolves in your mouth in the best way, delivering a sweet flavor that can be felt from your head to your heart.
Corey Williams is a DeLand native. He is grateful for the opportunity to build on his definition of soul food and its emphasis on family by building his own restaurant.
He was certain of his decision to go into business for himself, but he questions himself in one area.
“Like, why I waited so late,” he said, and quickly followed with, “Should have done it sooner.”
Creating a Black-owned business selling Black cuisine, Corey and Yvette didn’t feel obligated to locate in any particular part of town. They chose their location carefully, in the southeast corner of the West Volusia Regional Shopping Center, which is home to a broad variety of retail businesses and restaurants.
“When Corey and I talked about location, we felt like location was key,” Yvette said. “It was not about going to a Black town or white town. It was about going to a diverse town. … So, when people say the Black part of town, we think Black people understand as well as white people understand that we can go anywhere we want and be successful.”
The success of Taste of Soul has allowed for reflection and inspiration, and the Williamses find themselves wanting to share their story with those who guided them.
“If we could freeze time and then turn back the hands of time and have people that we so much care about, and that cared about us, come and see what we’re doing … they would be praising and singing hallelujah all day long,” Yvette said.
At Taste of Soul, it’s not just sharing the staple food items of fried chicken or mac-and-cheese, or other items like meatloaf and smothered chicken livers. It is so much more than many could possibly think of or understand.
Through the “step out on faith” method, Corey and Yvette have managed to do exactly what they set out to with their definition of soul food. They have and are building relationships, cooking from the heart, continuing generational recipes, and priding themselves with concern for people and their palates.