Chadwick Boyd ’93 took an untraditional path to becoming a food media personality. The self-taught chef came to UNC Charlotte with plans to study art and architecture. But instead of designing attractive buildings or creating beautiful paintings, he makes delicious meals that help draw family and friends closer together.
Affectionately known as the “Biscuit Man” to some, Boyd spoke to UNC Charlotte students Wednesday afternoon in the Barnhardt Student Activity Center about his educational and professional journey. His message: The linear path is not always the best path to success.
Boyd first fell in love with cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen. Today, as owner of Chadwick Boyd Lifestyle, he is a food media entrepreneur and TV host. He believes food is a lifestyle and has worked with brands such as the Food Network, Random House, Meredith Corporation and Target to develop and grow that niche. In his new Hallmark Drama TV series, “Christmas Cookie Matchup,” Boyd is judge of a cookie baking challenge. The show debuts Nov. 13.
Boyd, who ultimately earned a bachelor's degree in English from UNC Charlotte, has been touring with celebrity chef Carla Hall on the “Biscuit Time” tour, where they share their biscuit making secrets.
He said there is a parallel between his life and the makings of a tasty biscuit, and he outlined that parallel to students.
Flour. It is the foundation on which biscuits are made. Boyd said the flour, or foundation, of his life are the conversations with his family around the table as a child, the accumulation of the books he read as a child, including the “Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls,” and his mother.
“She drove me across towns and cities to pottery classes, art classes, acting auditions, drafting competitions, and she exposed me to people in different cultures and cuisines,” Boyd said. “And mama made sure that education was in all facets of my life, be it experiential or academic. It was always first. And she was committed to that all the way through my time here at UNC Charlotte.”
Leavening. This is what gives biscuits their rise, causing them to stand tall, Boyd said.
“For me, the leavening of my life was my grandparents, Clara and Frank. They were my greatest teachers in life, and they taught me how to cook. They taught me how to create community through food and crafts. And they showed me how to lead through example in everything in life.”
The Richness. Butter makes biscuits rich. In Boyd’s life, butter represents the richness of education, including his time at UNC Charlotte.
“As a creative and curious mind, UNC Charlotte was a playground. It afforded me flexibility and introduced me to working professionals who were also professors, and I really admired that and loved it. Because I could see what they were teaching they were also doing out in the world. And that’s where my brain really came alive in thinking about my ultimate profession.”
The Flavor. The unexpected things, such as a pinch of salt, add flavor to biscuits, Boyd said. One of the things that added flavor to his life at UNC Charlotte was his first study abroad experience in Paris, where he absorbed the culture and learned how to connect with people who spoke a different language.
“It also taught me that the world beyond UNC Charlotte was my classroom, and that’s how I use traveling around the world every single day,” Boyd said.
The Light Touch and Patience. Boyd said this is probably the most important part of making biscuits. One has to have patience and not rush the baking process. After his grandmother died in 2006, Boyd said he read the self-help book “The Four Agreements,” which his mentor had given to him years prior. One of the four agreements is to be impeccable with your word.
“I incorporate being impeccable with your word into my practice, my meditation, every single day,” Boyd said. “And it helps me trust and know that after doing all of this work that I have to just trust that it’s going to be delicious and wonderful and more awesome than what I thought it would be. And that’s what my grandparents taught me. That’s what my mother taught me. That’s what UNC Charlotte taught me.”
Boyd advised students to consider what is the flour, leavening, richness, flavor and light touch in their lives. He also treated them to his carrot sage biscuits.
While on campus, Boyd also spoke at the 1946 Society Gold Circle reception. The 1946 Society is a community of loyal UNC Charlotte alumni, faculty, staff and friends who have given to the University for three or more consecutive years. The Gold Circle reception honored those 1946 Society members who have given for 15 or more consecutive years.