Food & Drink

‘Don’t sleep on the rum cake.’ Warner Robins banker-turned-chef hosting his next pop-up

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By day, Tyler Taliaferro works at a local bank.

But at night and on his free time, he’s busy in his kitchen, perfecting recipes and planning the next big meal.

The Warner Robins man is the brains behind Thymely Dishes, a Middle Georgia pop-up “restaurant” that offers dishes about once a month. Taliaferro releases the menu, takes orders and delivers the meals to various locations in Middle Georgia. He’s already cooked for Geico employees.

It all started when he invited some friends over for dinner at his house.

“I think I made shrimp and grits,” Taliaferro said. “They were like, ‘What are you doing at the bank? You should figure that out because you should be cooking somewhere.’”

From there, Taliaferro began taking orders from co-workers at Robins Financial Credit Union on Russell Parkway last year. Then he expanded and delivered meals to a few more branches nearby.

He launched his own pop-up by early 2019.

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Chef Tyler Taliaferro is hosting a pop-up lunch on July 8. Orders can be placed through his Facebook page through July 5. Tyler Taliaferro Special to the Telegraph

“I did about 75 meals my first trip,” he said. “I also took donations and made a few extra pans of fettuccine alfredo and took it to the Macon Rescue Mission.”

The Ohio native would often volunteer at the rescue mission during the holidays when he first moved to Georgia about six years ago. He said that he wanted to incorporate giving to those in need into his business.

“That was honestly the easiest decision I made,” Taliaferro said.

His meal service is growing in popularity.

The next pop-up is July 8 and features Carribbean-style jerk pasta dishes and rum cake. Orders are due by Friday.

“I try to tell everyone that orders, don’t sleep on the rum cake.” he said.

The idea to cook food for others came when Taliaferro came to Middle Georgia. It was a turning point, he said, because he got try Southern foods that he had never eaten before. Think boiled peanuts and pimento cheese.

“I was kind of weirded out by the concept of boiled peanuts til I ate them,” Taliaferro said. They became a binge habit. Every couple of nights, he’d go and get boiled peanuts and Mountain Dew Code Red.

Middle Georgia cuisine inspired his Southern menu for the pop-up, and it was also the starting point of a new goal to around the world to experience food in different cultures. The first places on his list: Mexico and Europe.

“I want to do all the crazy things that come along with learning about food culture, like living in a dirt hut in Ethiopia and learn to harvest coffee beans,” he said. “The whole nine. That is my vision for the next 10 years.”

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Chef Tyler Taliaferro is hosting a pop-up lunch on July 8. Orders can be placed through his Facebook page through July 5. Tyler Taliaferro Special to the Telegraph

After that, he would like to return home to Ohio and start an organization for kids that like to cook and potentially doing something similar for Macon.

His father inspires him to be a role model for those in need.

“I realized when I came to Macon a lot of people don’t have people like him in their lives,” Taliaferro said. “It is crazy the amount of people who don’t have the basic cooking skills or life skills that you can’t learn at school. You have to be taught that.”

The easiest way to place an order is through his Chef Tyler Taliaferro Facebook page. He accepts various payment options. You can also contact him to make a donation for food that will help feed the homeless.

Taliaferro recently returned home to visit his family in Ohio and decided to do a pop-up for his hometown. He said that the response was surprising.

“I felt all the love and support as soon as I came home,” he said. “A little over 200 people contacted me over the three weeks I had orders open and I only ended up accepting 70... It felt good to be supported by friends and family at home.”

Justin Baxley is the fan life reporter at The Telegraph and writes stories centered around entertainment, food and sports in the Macon community. Justin joined the Telegraph staff after graduating from Mercer University in May 2017 with a degree in criminal justice and journalism. During his time at Mercer he served as the sports editor for The Cluster.
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