Mai Burnette is an author, award-winning Global Business Strategist, chef, Women’s Advocate, entrepreneur, and inspirational speaker. Mai is also the founder and CEO of the Women’s Empowerment Network (WE Network) and owner of Mai’s Kitchen Food Service, serving authentic West African cuisine to the United States and the rest of the world. Since launching Mai’s Kitchen Food Service, Mai has been featured on Travelnoire Lunchtable, Femme, and Nue Baltimore where she’s shared some family recipes from West Africa. 

As a mother of a teen daughter, she wanted to ensure the younger generation understood how to make authentic food from Africa as well as open up the dining experience to African Americans. This is what led her to write her first book Cooking with Mai: Easy to Prepare West African Food. Her passion for food was inspired by her grandmother and her mother, who taught Mai how to cook as a young girl. Being that Sierra Leone is rich in culture, much different than the United States, Mai wanted others to get a taste of her home from their own kitchens.

Please tell us about your book, Cooking with Mai: Easy to Prepare West African Food, and what you want readers to take away from it?

Mai Burnette: Besides the wonderful West African dishes that my book encompasses, I want readers to see the beautiful culture of Sierra Leone and the heritage from which I come. I took my time with this book to showcase my home the way I want others to know it. There are many ideas about West Africa that I hope are changed throughout the pages of my book so that people will learn and understand West Africa as the land of amazing food, genuine people, and rich culture.

What do you enjoy most about being a Global Business Strategist?

Mai Burnette: What I enjoy most about being a Global Business Strategist is the impact that I get to make. It is another way that I get to craft the legacy I will leave one day.

What does feedback look like from those who visit Mai’s Kitchen Food Service?

Mai Burnette: I receive a lot of “thank-you’s!” from those who visit and experience my food. Many are impressed with the quality of the West African cuisine I provide and that is always my favorite part of cooking for them. I can tell that my food is changing people’s lives and that is the reason that I love to cook — to bring people together and serve others.

What other business-related projects are you currently involved in?

Mai Burnette: Currently, I am spearheading the US Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce. By doing so, I get to support the development of my country.

Additionally, I am working on a line of frozen foods and spices that will be available in grocery stores, as well as planning the opening of a restaurant that will provide catering and carryout.

What is the best thing about being a business owner?

Mai Burnette: Being a business owner means that I get to control the vision of the business. There is unexplainable freedom that comes with being in control. I love being able to work and create new ideas whenever I want, and I love getting to share my passion with the world.

What advice would you give to others?

Mai Burnette: Surround yourself with positive people. Having people that support your dreams will make the pursuit of those dreams much more enjoyable. It is also important to be that person to those around you as well. Showing support to other aspiring and talented individuals is one of the most important aspects of being an empowering woman.

Keep up-to-date with Mai Burnette @mai_burnette

Tammy Reese

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