Chef Belinda Smith-Sullivan ‘flying high’ with the release of her first cookbook

Chef Belinda with her dog on her front porch.

Chef Belinda Smith-Sullivan ‘flying high’ with the release of her first cookbook
September 05
10:19 2019

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Belinda Smith-Sullivan has been many things before she became a cookbook author: stewardess (back in the days before they were known as ‘flight attendants’), pilot and flight instructor, Coca-Cola employee living in France, Kenya and South Africa, entrepreneur, and personal chef. In a phone interview on Saturday, Aug. 30, where she was attending the Decatur Book Festival, I was able to unravel some of the mystery of her amazing life story and what led to her publishing a cookbook about peaches.

Smith-Sullivan was born in Chicago, but her parents were originally from Mississippi. Her mother believed that all children should spend time on a farm to see where food really came from, so she spent summers in Mississippi with her grandparents who were sharecroppers. She loved helping her grandmother and was especially enamored with canning peaches.

When she grew up and started her first job as a stewardess for American Airlines, she met Captain David E. Harris, the first African American commercial airline pilot (Google him for a history lesson). Smith-Sullivan was so impressed with Captain Harris that she decided that someday she would to learn to fly. In 1990 she received her pilot’s license, followed by her commercial, instrument and flight instructor’s certifications.

Smith-Sullivan worked for Coca-Cola, taking assignments around the world. After she completed her last assignment in South Africa, she and her husband looked for a place to retire and decided on Trenton, S.C. (near Augusta, Ga). It wasn’t long before she started getting antsy and her husband said, “I’m tired of you moping around the house. You’ve always wanted to take a cooking class,” and with that suggestion she enrolled in Johnson & Wales Culinary School. She laughed when she remarked, “I was the oldest student in my class, what they call a ‘non-traditional’ student.” After she received her degree in culinary arts, she became a personal chef. She quickly got tired of lugging around cans and jars of herbs and spices that she used in her recipes, so she created “shortcuts,” mixtures of spices that she could use when preparing various dishes. Soon people were asking for her spice mixtures, which led her to making and selling her artisan spice blends. She now has 11 different blends available on her website.

The fond memories of her grandmother canning and baking with peaches kept coming back to her and one day she decided to drive to Georgia to buy peaches. A neighbor asked her where she was going and she replied, to buy peaches in Georgia. “Are you kidding?” the neighbor said. “Don’t you know you’re living in the peach capital of the world?” She didn’t!

Chef Belinda searched for a peach cookbook, but when she discovered there wasn’t one, she decided to write one herself. It took her seven years to research, compile recipes and write her cookbook, and then get it published. “Just Peachy” features over 70 recipes for appetizers, entrees, desserts, sauces, preserves and drinks featuring peaches.

Chef Belinda will be talking about peaches and serving samples at Dewey’s Bakery at Thruway Shopping Center, 262 S. Stratford Road, on Friday, Sept. 6, at 10 a.m. Copies of the cookbook will be available for purchase.

She is also a featured Bookmarks author. On Sept. 7 from 3-3:45 p.m. she will be in the breezeway between Bookmarks and Foothills Brewing to talk about her recipes. A booksigning will follow at 4 p.m.

“Just Peachy” is available at Bookmarks bookstore, on Amazon, on her website,

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