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Onward & Upward: Ep. 6 with Kelli Ferrell

One Such Accomplished Woman is Kelli Ferrell, Chef, Author of Kooking with Kelli, and Owner of Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles. Thanks so much to Kelli for joining us for Season One of Onward & Upward with Leslie E. Royal, brought to you by Ashro.
Watch Episode 6: Cooking and Conversation with Kelli Ferrell now:

What does Onward & Upward Mean to you?

“Onward and Upward, I think it means getting to–going to better beginnings, heading to better beginnings. I think shooting for the stars, you know? Just continue to go, and continue to strive and reach your goals. And I think that’s what we’re all trying to do in 2020. We can’t let it stop us.” – Kelli Ferrell

For Kelli Ferrell, founder of the successful Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles Restaurant, God and timing attributed to the company’s popularity. People now travel from all over the world to experience chicken and waffles for the first time, often waiting over two hours to taste the delicious dish.

“All the recipes are created by the family or the restaurant’s team. My husband and I, and sometimes the staff, get creative with ingredients, like a baker decorating cakes. Do you remember all of the childhood favorites you ate growing up? We remember sweet and creamy banana pudding, so we made a banana pudding waffle. When we thought about Nana’s legendary apple pie, we decided to make an apple pie waffle. We thought about sweet potato pie, so we created a sweet potato waffle which is out of this world. Our goal is to recreate childhood memories of food in a unique way. I even think about what my kids like to eat now and I then create it into a waffle dish,” says Kelli.

“Everything is cooked from scratch. Nothing comes out of a bag except French fries and onion rings. We use the freshest ingredients, something that I recommend you do when you use the recipes in Kooking with Kelli. We use organic chicken that is steroid-free and hormone-free. We use local shelled eggs. My Nana wouldn’t use poor quality ingredients in our home, so I definitely won’t allow ingredients that aren’t the best in our restaurants.

The recipes in Kooking with Kelli are not just restaurant recipes. They are recipes that I have created or family recipes that were passed down — really just recipes that I cook for our family. With five girls in the house, you have to cook all the time. You have to figure out who wants what. This person doesn’t eat corn, this person does like rice, this person won’t eat vegetables, and so on. So these unique recipes were developed from being creative in our home with our family. It’s that different flavor and flair that we bring in to the restaurant.

There is no right or wrong with any of these recipes. In our family, we don’t cook with measuring cups or spoons. Instead, we put a sprinkle of this and pinch of that and taste it. That was one of the lessons my mother taught me. You’ve got to taste your food.

Kooking with Kelli is designed to give you a little piece of me and our family. My goal is to give you fun, new creative ideas, and to bring families together. I’m really big on family, specifically family time with my girls and husband. I always find it a good time where everybody can meet in the kitchen. The kitchen is a natural gathering space for community and family. The inspiration for this cookbook is family — to take a piece of us, take a piece of Nana’s, take a piece of Kooking with Kelli.”

black woman sitting on a counter in a white top

Kelli Ferrell

Chef, Author of Kooking with Kelli, and Owner of Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles


Thank you for inspiring us, Kelli!

 Would you like to be featured in future episodes? Or do you know someone who has made a significant impact on the Black community? Email us today!

Ashro Brand Ambassador Leslie E. Royal is also an author, international freelance writer, product review expert, and global travel journalist. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including: Medium, ESSENCE, Black Enterprise,, AAA Southern Traveler, Upscale, Upscale Living, and The Ashro Blog. She is the creator of the Leslie’s Lane consumer information blog and author of two books. Visit her Instagram and Amazon Author page

Comments (1)

I truly enjoyed Kelli’s story. This is the same way I cook in our kitchen. Family is very important especially to pass on grandma’s cooking. The memories keep us together.

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