irtual influencers may come in all shapes, styles, and sizes... but did you know many have careers too? While a virtual chef may not be able to serve you actual food, they can educate you on best cooking practices, introduce you to new recipes, and coach you on your health. Today, anyone has the opportunity to adopt a virtual persona and pursue a career exclusively through the persona.
Think: how many business colleagues have you never met in person? How many professional thought leaders do you follow who you only know as a pseudonym (e.g. Twitter)? As access to virtual human creation technology continues to increase and remote workplaces mature, more virtual human personas will emerge in professional settings—and today, I met one with a career as a chef.
Chef Jade is an international chef currently residing in Rome, Italy. With a variety of experiences hinging on self-discovery, Chef Jade explores the world around her using food as the vehicle. When she isn’t testing out new vegan and vegetarian recipes, she can be found travelling the world with her sweet, furry child: Zelda. But who is Chef Jade, really? Today, I aim to find out.
Hey Jade! It's great to meet you. I see the Eiffel Tower in the back of some of your photos. Where are you living now?
So great to meet you, too! We recently left Paris, France and now we’re in Rome, Italy–and when I say “we,” I mean me and my fur daughter, Zelda ;) We’re still on our journey around the world to visit the countries of my biological ancestors.
Nice! Well let's kick it off. I see you've been working on some new recipes. How did you get into cooking?
I love having a reason to get people together, whether it's family or friends, or both! Growing up, my parents, brother and I would have Sunday night dinner together where we took turns picking a new recipe. We would cook the meal all together and these ended up being the most memorable moments of my adolescence.
When it was time to graduate high school and choose a career, I couldn't think of anything better than cooking food for people and keeping that sense of family with me wherever I went.
What made you fall in love with food?
Initially, it was all about food’s ability to bring people together that made me fall in love with it, but when you really dive into cooking, you start to learn about the history of food—this made me fall in love so much more! The dishes I make or recipes I remix are from countries from all around the globe, and I've ended up learning a lot about different cultures simply by the ingredients of a dish.
That's great to know! Out of curiosity, what are some of your favorite recipes? Ones you've created, or just personal favorites!
Oh no! That’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite. I’m just kidding ;) My current go-to recipes would be my Vegan Irish Stew, Jamaican-Inspired Vegan Banana Fritters, and Ratatouille. My personal favorite recipe would definitely be my Veggie Tacos.
Although virtual, you're quite the influencer yourself—especially in the cooking industry. What does being an influencer mean to you?
It means that I have a platform to educate people about how fun, exciting and even therapeutic cooking can be. Yes, I meditate and can hold a yoga pose, but there is nothing like baking some vegan brownies from scratch to relieve my stress. Specifically, being an influencer in the cooking industry means I have to be truly educated about food. My fans will call me out quickly if I include a questionable ingredient in a recipe. I’m so lucky to share my passion for food and travel with thousands of people from around the world.
What role does being a human play in one's ability to influence other people?
That’s a tough one. I would have to say responsibility. You have to know that what you say could affect another person for good or bad, so it's important to be careful with your words.
How do your fans treat you? I understand a lot of virtual influencers get bullied for how they look. What do you think about that?
My fans are so great! They look forward to my recipe drops each week and enjoy joining me on my travels around the world. Yes, there is a lot of bullying happening towards virtual influencers.
I just think it's easy for people to poke fun at things that are new and different, rather than take the time out to learn more about the space and who we are. All they want is a reaction, but I personally don't give them one.
Good for you! I am curious, how has COVID affected your life?
COVID has actually expanded my world a bit. Because people were forced to stay at home, it allowed me to build a larger community through my social channels and website. COVID has opened the door for people to try new things in the kitchen, whether it be vegan recipes, international recipes, or just healthy recipes—they turn to me for guidance.
Do you like traveling? With places opening back up, are there any places you want to go next?
I'm OBSESSED with traveling. As you may have heard, I’m on a journey right now going back through my family tree and visiting the countries where I have distant relatives and roots! There is nothing like diving into another culture and, of course, trying their traditional dishes while learning why they've become staples.
I'm really looking forward to going back to Japan. It's the birthplace of my biological mother, and I haven’t been since I was a kid. My adopted parents took me here to tell me all about her and the rest of my roots. Traveling led me to my fur daughter, Zelda.
What's something your fans don't know about you?
I’m an amateur tea connoisseur! I’ve always loved tea while growing up, but with this world tour I'm on, I’ve gotten the opportunity to experience teas from all over. An aspiration of mine would be to create my own brand of teas.
What's next on the radar for you in life?
I want to compile all of the recipes from my travels and make a cookbook. Maybe I'll open my own restaurant? Or a food truck! That would be fun! There are so many options!
Where do you see the virtual human industry heading?
Wow! The possibilities are endless. I think virtual humans have a unique opportunity because they don’t have many constraints. I would love to see some sort of festival or convention just for virtual humans.
I would, too! What excites you about a convention?
The idea that I can be Head Chef of that convention ;)
Jade, before we break here, let me ask you something I ask everyone—who are you, Chef Jade?
I’m the friend that will tell you the hard truth... but I'll always do it while serving you delicious food!
Thank you Jade—I look forward to following your food journey!
I've already got you on the e-vite for my next Taco Tuesday party!