Go ahead and add the name Vedam Clementi to your list of north Georgia jewels that Atlanta loves. The personal chef, caterer, cookbook author and gluten-free home advisor designs distinct menus for parties of two to special events for many more.
And he does it with an out, proud personal style that customers love.
“A meal is more than just food,” Clementi told Project Q Atlanta. “It is a time to commune, gather, discuss and share.”
That philosophy was imprinted on Clementi, 57, from an early age growing up in Gloucester, Va.
“My mama and my Aunt Bet showed us their love through the food they prepared,” he said. “We did not have a lot of money, but there was always amazing food for us to share.”
“Those actions carried me into my adult life,” he added. “Even before I cooked professionally, I was the one that had the ‘Friendsgiving’ for all of the friends and misfits that were not going home for the holidays.”
Clients get that family feeling, too, through personalized menus. Life in the service industry taught Clementi to set his business apart from the rest with customer service.
“When you treat your customers with the utmost level of professionalism, paired with treating them as if they are part of your ‘family of choice,’ they feel that love and care you have put into their service,” he said.
“When that type of treatment has a synergy with amazingly delicious food, they not only love the food, but they love anyone and everyone that has brought that into their life,” the chef added.
‘Simply love our food’
Speaking of love and life, Clementi married Nirish Moody, his partner of 16 years, seven years ago. They live in Hiawassee, Ga., and he travels to Atlanta for work as needed.
About the same time as their marriage, Vee Culinary was born from Clementi’s own diagnosis with Celiac Disease, which causes adverse reactions to wheat, rye and barley.
“When I was first diagnosed, I had a brief pity party, but then I made my mind up that this was not going to hold me down,” he said. “Instead, I was going to choose to allow life’s circumstances to turn into something positive. I taught myself how to cook all over again, and one thing led to another, and I began to share my recipes on the web.”
“People wanted a cookbook, so I wrote and self-published ‘Vedam’s Gluten Free & Fabulous! Recipes From A Southern Gay Househusband.’ For those of us that have Celiac Disease or non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet specifically, and living a gluten-free life, is our only medicine,” he added.
Maybe you don’t need gluten-free meals. Clementi’s cooking is probably still up your alley.
“More than half of our clients enjoy our services, not because they need gluten-free foods,
but because they simply love our food,” he said.
A few of Vee’s most popular recipes include gluten-free versions of people pleasers like macaroni & cheese, honey-glazed pork chops, roasted buttermilk chicken with lemon and herbs, and barbecue ribs.
That’s just the beginning. A personalized food quiz gets customers exactly what they want – and need in terms of any dietary restrictions. From there, enjoy culinary creations your way: ready for the fridge or freezer or ready to cook, a few times a week or as a one-off.
If you’re a diner who never cooks, eats out or has a hectic schedule that precludes homecooked meals, the slate of high-end services may be just your ticket. For anyone on the fence, the chef recommends an intimate, magnificent meal to start.
“One of the easiest and best ways to see what we do is to experience a ‘Dinner For Two,’” he said. “It is a great way to have the Vee Culinary experience.”
‘Gay as a goose’
Clementi has been out of the closet since the early 1980s, an era when being open about sexual orientation as a teenager was taboo. But being true to himself is not only who Clementi is, but it’s also what he brings to the table, so to speak.
He highly recommends the same for others.
“Authenticity and self-honesty are truly the only things you have, and when you are hiding aspects of yourself, people may not be able to put a handle on it, but they will know something is up, and they will have some feelings of mistrust,” the chef asserted.
“When you see your divinity, you also see that there is no reason to hide it,” he continued. “We as human beings are multi-faceted individuals, and it is in the multi-faceted-ness that makes us unique. Be proud of that uniqueness!”
Clementi self-identifies as “gay as a goose” and “an irreverent shit-stirrer.” In short, he doesn’t mince words when speaking his mind, especially about coming out and being proud.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” he exclaimed. “Societal and religious conditionings that say we are less than, we are sinners, etc., are bullshit!”
“If you step out in faith and look to experience whatever God means to you, you will soon realize that you too are created in the image of, that you are perfect just as you are, and that you are divine in your own right,” he said. “Yes, it will take some time and effort to move beyond your conditioning, [but] when you do, your authentic life can then truly begin.”
In fact, Clementi believes that we owe living authentically to future and past generations of queer humanity as much as to ourselves.
“I believe that we are a tribe of individuals who have been around since the beginning of time, and you are part of that tribe,” he said. “Because of that, you can access all of the wisdom of our gay ancestors since the beginning of time and allow that to help you move through this lifetime.”
What other people think of him is none of his business, he said, and Clementi’s business keeps him busy enough. He stays artistic and creative in his downtime, and that includes kitchen innovations.
“Cooking, creating new recipes and having family gatherings centered around food are some of my long-time hobbies,” he said. “So much of my business is actually a hobby, and I hope I never lose that.”
Visit Vee Culinary online, and follow Chef Vedam and his crew on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. An elaborate Roaring ‘20s Great Gatsby costume event is planned for 2022 in West Midtown. You can sign up for Chef Vee’s newsletter for an automatic invite.