NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Feeding Creative Passions

Fogle Caters to Communication by Day, Cuisine by Night

Fogle selfie

When she’s not working with the NIH director’s speeches team, VaLorie Fogle is feeding her passion for cooking as a professional chef. For the past 25 years, Fogle—known in the cooking world as “Yaya the Chef”—nurtured her culinary skills and is now a highly regarded chef based in Elkton, Va. 

Fogle, executive admin in the NIH Director’s Presentations Branch of the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, began her journey to becoming a professional chef at home when she started “catering” her weekly Sunday football gatherings with friends. 

At 28 years old, Fogle had already worked as a professional dancer, choreographer and completed a brief stint in the corporate world. She always loved to cook and knew she was good at it, which led her to pursing a culinary education. 

Fogle earned a degree from the esteemed Escoffier Culinary School—one of the top-rated culinary schools in the world and the largest in the country—where she learned the techniques that would trademark her cooking career.

The moniker Yaya the Chef originates from a childhood nickname her grandmother used. “Yaya,” a term common in some southern states, means “young artist.” 

Decades later, the nickname turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a chef, dancer, choreographer and painter, Fogle values creativity and art. She loves making fusion foods, and her favorite dish to whip up is étouffée—shellfish over rice popular in both Cajun and Creole cuisines. 

Though she is her own toughest critic, Fogle finds joy in cooking and sharing her creations with family, friends and her community. Recently, she was named a top 10 finalist in celebrity chef Carla Hall’s “Favorite Chef” competition. 

Fogle selfie with a football that reads Chef YaYa

Coming up, Fogle is collaborating on two cookbooks set to be released this fall. She will also be featured in a new local news segment called Retreat Livin’ with Yaya the Chef. She will visit and review wineries along with other hot spots locals should check out.

Though she’s balancing a lot on her plate, nothing stops her from pursuing her passions. 

“You make it happen,” Fogle says. “There’s no such thing as limits."

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

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