I Create Birmingham: Chef Dre Foster

“Don’t ever give up. Don’t allow obstacles or naysayers to deter you from your destiny.”

CO.STARTERS graduate Chef Dre Foster is currently testing her restaurant concept, The Preservery, in REV Birmingham’s REVeal Kitchen stall at The Pizitz Food Hall. Her menu offers unique spins on traditional soul food dishes – gulf shrimp and grits, jambalaya fried rice, laden gumbo, banana speculoos pudding, and more.

Can you tell us the inspiration behind the name of your restaurant?

The Preservery came about as a mash-up of words for the preservation of soul food history and the fact that we make preserves.

You’re a self-taught chef. How have you adjusted from a home kitchen to a retail kitchen?

I have realized that some things or techniques that work in a home kitchen just don’t translate into a commercial kitchen. For example, the fact that I can’t make all of my food in small batches like I’m used to doing at home affects the amount or even the types of spices that I can use in my cooking at the restaurant.

You graduated from our CO.STARTERS program last fall. How have you applied the program’s concept of starting small and scaling up to The Preservery?

It is all about perspective. I can perceive that I am not achieving my dream because I’m doing it in small steps and starting small or I can see it as the necessary steps that I need to make it to my ultimate goal. I can take each step as a learning experience so that once I have reached my ultimate goal, I’m better prepared for it.

What have you learned in your first month at the REVeal Kitchen at The Pizitz Food Hall?

I have learned a whole lot of things! I have learned are that it takes a lot of money to start up a restaurant. Big surprise! I have also found out that an entrepreneur must wear many hats from owner to cleaning crew to secretary to marketer. The list is never-ending. And lastly, I’ve learned that my food is well received not just by my loyal customers but by a much larger audience than I ever expected. They get it!

What’s next, after your tenure at the REVeal Kitchen?

I see The Preservery Bham in our own space, with a fine dining atmosphere where people can enjoy an upscale soul-food meal and explore international flavors. It’s my hope that the uniqueness of our food will help unite people from all walks of life.

What advice do you have for other aspiring restauranteurs and entrepreneurs?

Don’t ever give up. Don’t allow obstacles or naysayers to deter you from your destiny.