Most Black people in America understand that people often see skin color before they see intelligence, talent or ability. Executive Chef Denise Smith has found a tasty way to work around that: Lead with food that looks and tastes delicious.

Smith grew up on a farm with her grandparents and learned every aspect of preparing food, from raising and slaughtering chickens to growing vegetables, and of course, preparing feasts for family and friends.

Her love for food started from a young age, and as she pursued a career as a chef, she had to unlearn some African American cooking habits that date back to slavery.

Now, Smith prides herself on not only learning how to prepare authentic cuisines from a variety of ethnic backgrounds but also turning her passion for food into a lucrative business.

Smith owns GennieBee Catering, named after her mother and grandmother, as well as Ambience Dining Experience (ADE), which provides top-tier dining experiences along with live music and entertainment.

The official launch of ADE will take place on Sunday, July 23 at the Current Hotel in Long Beach. Guests will receive a four-course meal that includes both vegan and vegetarian options.

On this week’s episode of “The Word with Jackie Rae,” Smith discusses her journey to becoming an executive chef, how she manages to excel when she’s often the only Black woman in the room and the grand opening of ADE.

To purchase tickets for the July 23 event, visit ADE’s website. To learn more about Smith, follow her on Instagram.