As a small child, Kurt E. Smith was raised as a vegetarian by his parents. Childhood illnesses (such as asthma and eczema) however convinced his mother that Kurt would benefit from a strict vegan diet. Once implemented, Kurt’s conditions subsided greatly. Thus began his journey into the vegan lifestyle.
Even as a young child, Kurt spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching his mother prepare the family meals. The importance of nutritional value was further instilled in Kurt as his mother invited family friends into the home where she would counsel them on healthy eating, and offer delicious vegetarian and vegan meals.
In time Kurt would become her ‘helper’ in the kitchen, learning to ‘add more of this,’ and ‘less of that.’ Mother had no idea of Kurt’s level of retention, but would soon discover this when, one morning, while she was ill in bed Kurt decided to prepare a meal for the two of them. To Mother’s surprise, Kurt had prepared a full-course meal without any assistance or guidance from her whatsoever.
“When he asked if he could fix breakfast, I thought he would make toast or something simple,” she says. “I had no idea he was capable of cooking! After eating the meal, I insisted that he prepare a dish for the women of our church – because they would never believe that he had prepared such a meal without my help.” Kurt did so and became a huge hit!
He was just eight years old.
As Kurt would grow to adulthood, he wondered whether he was “cured” of his childhood diseases. Heading off to college and away from his mother’s influence for the first time in his life, he decided to add meat and other non-essentials to his diet. Chronic eczema and severe acne would ensue, and Kurt made the wise decision to return to a full-fledged vegan diet.
He never looked back. In fact, the experience left an indelible mark on his psyche and would impel Kurt to research the relationship between foods and their affects on the human body. This action resulted in the forming of Kurt’s business, Totally Vegetarian Catering, Inc., in 1999. The buzz that followed surprised even Kurt, as he carried out preparation of such meals as vegan crab cakes (made exclusively from tofu), vegan chops (made from seitan), and other forms of “meatless meat” dishes.
It was around this time that word spread from coast to coast and KESS (as he is now known) was suddenly in demand as he was flown to various parts of the country to prepare meals at functions, private events – even hired on a monthly basis for noted individuals such as neo-soul artist Erykah Badu, singer/songwriter Rochelle Ferrell, record producer and songwriter Kenny Gamble, PA State Senator Vincent Hughes, the PETA organization, environmentalist and author of the best-selling food novel “Diet for a New America” John Robbins (heir to the Baskin Robbins chain), rap mogul and entrepreneur Russell Simmons, and former Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, to name a few.
Under the umbrella of Totally Vegetarian Inc., KESS operates Veggie Chefs, which sends vegetarian and vegan chefs directly to clients’ homes. Here, KESS fuses personality along with strategic event planning, to combine décor (themes, such as Hawaiian luaus, Christmas Wonderlands, etc.) to complement a healthy vegetarian bounty.
KESS has been featured on various radio talk shows in Philadelphia, discussing the great benefits from healthy eating. He is a member of the North American Vegetarian Society, Raw Food Support Organization of Philadelphia, and an alumni of CATERSOURCE (an organization consisting of caterers from around the United States).
In addition to his own YouTube channel, KESS will soon unveil his new book which will combine the story of his life along with his own specialized vegetarian and vegan recipes, which are a very large part of his life.