DALLAS — Chef Cassy Jones cooks with such passion, you can feel it.
"I love what I do, and I think you can taste it in the food," she said.
Her booth at the State Fair of Texas, Chef Cassy's Creations, has become so popular, people from across Texas make it a point to stop by every year. "I have people who buy season passes just to see me at the fair," she said.
In fact, when Jones applied to be part of the fair in 2013, she managed to skip the infamous wait list for a booth, and landed one the same year she applied. Other vendors told her that was unheard of. "I always wanted to be a chef," she said. "I didn't know this was the road."
Five years later, the fair has changed Jones' life. "It put me on the Food Network, on the Cooking Channel," she said.
Jones has also been approached about her own show. In 24 days of the fair, Jones make as much money as most people make it a year. Plus, it's helped grow her catering business the rest of the year.
"I have business all year long because they see me at the fair, and they love my food," she said.
She won a Big Tex award on her first try. When you taste her gator poppers, you'll know why. But it's the fried collard greens that keeps people coming back.
"Her collard greens are the best, she's here every year," said customer Renee Pereria.
"People come from all over Texas for this, El Paso, San Antonio, they come for the collard greens," said Troy Dillworth, who cooks at the booth. "I wasn't really a greens eater. Since I've been working here, it is a delicacy of my own choice."
There was a time when Jones thought her lifelong dream of being a chef would never come true. "I have a daughter in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, and so I ran my own daycare for 15 years," said Jones. "I had children that had different medical issues because regular daycares wouldn't accept them."
It wasn't until age 40 that she went to culinary school, and started a new career from scratch. "Whatever it is that you dream about doing, go for it! If you're not dead, you can still go for it," Jones said.