Meet Our Executive Chef and VP of Culinary Excellence, Chef Cliff!
Clifton Lyles is an award-winning chef who specializes in creating culinary-inspired, nutritious meals at a mass scale. From turning airplane meals into a hot commodity to making clean, gluten-free dishes delicious, Chef Cliff is known in the U.S. and abroad for creating culturally relevant, healthy, and delicious menus. Check out his video to see how he is bringing our food philosophy to life and read on to learn about his background and double life as an adventure racer.
Why did you choose to work at Revolution Foods?
One of the things that brought me to Revolution Foods was its mission to create life-long healthy eaters. I've been a chef for over 30 years. I've had the ability to work fine dining, all the way to the travel industry. A lot of people don't think you can make good food at school, and I disagree.
As a kid who ate reimbursed breakfast and lunch at school, I realized that I performed better in sports and did better in school when I ate well. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in three different countries and travel all over the world. Living in developing countries made me understand even more how important it is for kids to be able to start their days with a great meal that will enable them to pay attention and do better in school, which will then allow them to have a better life. So when I found out about Revolution Foods, I just had to be a part of it — they didn’t come looking for me. I came looking for them.
Chef Cliff conducting taste test with school partners
What is your experience across different industries?
I've worked in hotel kitchens, fine dining, aviation, and corporate functions as well as owned my own catering business. I've designed menus for airlines, universities, K-12 school cafeterias, and community feeding sites. From designing cheese platters for well-known international airlines to making jerk spiced chicken drumsticks for kids in Jersey, I always keep in mind who my consumers are and how my food can bring joy into their lives no matter where they are and what their situation is.
We know you recently starred on Amazon's World's Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji, how did you get into adventure racing and what are your biggest learnings?
My journey into adventure racing began when I watched Eco-Challenge on TV in 1999. In my two decades competing, I noticed that I literally could count on one hand the number of Black people that I have ever seen race on any level, from sprint races to expedition races.
I decided that if Eco-Challenge ever came back, I would definitely do it because that's what got me started. And I wanted to pave the way for everyone to be able to compete regardless of their race, gender, and sexual orientation.
I’ve gotten so many heartfelt thank-yous for showing people of color doing these things too. Grown men telling me how they’ve been on the sofa crying with their children because they and their kids got to see someone who looked like them do something that they never thought they could do. I even get choked up now talking about it, because it has shown people that we do have the ability to do any and everything, and that we can be and are accepted when we do these things.
What do you wish people knew about what you do?
I wish that people knew that Revolution Foods focuses on ensuring that communities, not just kids, have great healthy food. Foods that negatively impact kids’ development and attention span do the same for adults. And you can feed a person a great healthy meal on a very tight budget. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money if you’re creative, you understand the financial bottom line, and also what people enjoy.
If you would like more information about Revolution Foods or to schedule a tasting for your organization, please contact us today!