The Sit Down: Tommi Vincent

What can’t Tommi Vincent do? Not much, this I can tell you is a fact. Married for the past 27 years to executive V.P. of the NFL Football Operations and Hall of Famer Troy Vincent, Tommi is a chef, an entrepreneur, a mother of five, a motivational speaker, and a writer who has built an exceptional career and life around leading by example, giving back to her community, and mouthwatering food. When Tommi and I met back in 2006, at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, I got a sense of the positive force of nature, faith, and love that she is. Along with Troy, she has parlayed her superpower to “love people to life with food” into Vincent Country: a faith-driven family lifestyle brand. With Vincent Country, Tommi manifests a supportive environment for those in crisis—she and Troy are dedicated to raising awareness about domestic and sexual abuse—through her “legacy-inspired, soul-stirring” recipes. She approaches each challenge with a positive “plan, prepare, pursue” attitude and even her personal motto, “It’s all good!”, reflects her message that when we work together for good, good things come to us. One of my favorite things about Tommi is that she invites everyone to take a seat at her table (literally), where she treats you with respect, love, and if you’re lucky, one of her famous sweet potato bars, too. 

Her backstory: “At the age of two years old, I pulled a stool up to the stove and cooked Cream of Wheat. I knew very early cooking was my thing. From that day forward, I stayed in the kitchen watching and learning. I come from a long line of cooks who throw down; however, my greatest influence was my Nana Edie. Her food felt like comfort and tasted like home. Today, I work to invoke that experience in others, creating food for the soul. I never viewed cooking as a career; it was and is a skill I inherently possess. It doesn’t feel like work.”

Her turning point: “In 2012, Troy charged our family to write down our dreams. We sat down and discussed them as a family over Thanksgiving dinner. I had just finished two years of counseling, so I was focused and knew precisely what I wanted to accomplish personally and professionally. One was to finish my degree in something meaningful that I would utilize: the culinary arts. That day at our dinner table pinned some of my proudest moments. As a family we have witnessed each other checking off the boxes of completion. Our continued support, encouragement, and accountability towards one another makes me proud of the children Troy and I are raising. We all learned that day there is enough room for everyone to shine.”

Her routine: “Every day starts the same: selfcare, exercise, and prayer. From there, I set the tone for my family’s day. I crank gospel music in the kitchen, so they know, ‘Let’s go. It is a new day!’ Once everyone is off, I start executing my schedule; my week encompasses creating social graphics, managing social media, recipe development, event planning, managing family and work calendars, managing our website, bookkeeping …The highlights of my day include FaceTime with the Troy and the kids as they drive to the gym, come from practice, or just because. These moments matter to me most. They are pulse checks. When they are good, I am great.”

On Vincent Country: “In the mid 90s, our cousin, NHRA pro stock motorcycle team driver Antron Brown showed me how to set up an email. AOL had just become popular and we had dial-up internet access. He asked for the name and I said, ‘Vincent Country.’ Moving forward, that was how we referenced our life. Vincent Country is literally our way of life anchored by our three pillars: Faith, Family, Food. Throughout our 27-plus years together, Troy and I have learned, experienced, and been exposed to a great deal. When you desire to impact a narrative, you must be willing to insert yourself into the story. We utilize our influence and platform to provide others with principles, resources, and access. Ultimately people realize the value in their own ‘country’ and find success where they are.”  

Her work ethic: “I get tremendous satisfaction out of successfully executing a ‘mission’—whatever I am working on. That means I focus in and work diligently until I am finished. The extent of the work is not realized until I cross the finish line. Then and only then do I look back and say to myself, ‘Girl, you did that!’ Yes, I do not wait for someone to affirm my work. I am self-motivated and encourage myself all the way to the finish line.” 

Her success secret: “The key to success is not defining success by the metrics of others. The measure of another man is not the key indicator of my success. I have my own road to travel and that is my concentrated focus. Every day I pray, ‘God, do not let me leave any stones unturned. Ensure only what matters to you matters to me.’”

Her parenting P.O.V.: “I am a non-believer of the parenting style of do what I say, not as I do. My children know I walk the talk I give. I love my children to life and empower them to be self-sufficient. I use my words to build them up and not tear them down. It is my job, along with Troy’s, to raise them by being the greatest influencer in their lives. We need to be a trusted source and safe space. My advice to parents is children do not need you to be their friend—they need you to be their parent. You have to love them enough to draw a line of demarcation between the two.”

Her must-haves: “I must have girlfriend time. We spend our time together taking in the movies I cannot get Troy to go see, exercising, having a sleepover (yes, I still invite my girlfriends over for slumber parties), or going out to eat. My guilty pleasure is eating a bowl of cereal in bed while watching a movie. Also, [I must have] my red spatula and cast-iron skillet. I can work wonders with them. I always have flour, sugar, butter, milk, and eggs. I love to bake. We may not have dinner, but we will have dessert!”

Her signature dishes: “Some of my most requested dishes are sweet potato bars, lobster mac & cheese, cornbread-stuffed chicken breast wrapped in bacon twine, and bread pudding with bourbon caramel apple syrup, just to name a few.”

Her favorite meal: “Brunch is my absolute favorite meal! It is easy like Sunday morning … it puts you in a chill state of mind. No one is in a rush, the conversation is good. Plus, the menu technically embodies breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It does not get any better than that!”

She most admires … “My husband Troy. We married really young, so I have had the opportunity to see him evolve into the man he is today. He is the real deal and I truly admire him for that.”

The talent she’d most like to have: “I wish I could sing so bad. Even though I do not possess the gift of singing, it does not stop me. It drives Troy and the kids crazy. Especially when I belt out songs around their friends.”

Her words to live by: “‘Be where your feet are.’In other words, be present in the moment you are in.” 

What’s next: “There are a couple projects in the pipeline. In the immediate future, I am launching a quarterly brunch series, “Brunch & A Life-Saving Conversation with Chef Tommi V.,” a fundraiser to benefit the National Domestic Violence Hotline, scheduled for Virginia, San Francisco, New York, and South Florida. I am also hosting my annual Vincent Country Women’s Retreat for 25 to 30 women.”