For more about the ASAN Member Profiles series, click here.  For a full collection of the profiles published thus far, click here.


Chef Thyme Randle, founder of the Underground Cooking Academy, wakes up thinking about art. Not what we typically envision like an image, or sculpture, it’s delicious, healthy food he’s been creating in Birmingham for 10 years. Even though he’s a vegan to his core, he’s skilled at preparing any type of meal that’ll appeal to your taste buds. From intimate gatherings to larger events, Chef Thyme chose catering to share his love and passion for food. On occasion, he supports some of the more popular restaurants and chefs in town, working behind the scenes to whip up dishes where he adds his signature flair. With his unique personality and live-life-out loud mentality, Thyme infuses his mental determination into every opportunity presented to him. Food is his love language, and it’s apparent in every dish he creates.

How long have you been a member of ASAN?
The upcoming Graze Event will be my fourth year. I’ve been a participating chef for Graze: Birmingham since the beginning, a membership is part of the perk we receive for giving our time to help raise funds for ASAN.

What is your favorite ASAN event, and why?
So far, Graze. My work has been evolving so I haven’t participated in any of the other events, however, working as a chef for other restaurants I’ve had the opportunity to meet many farmers, some from the event, and develop relationships with them. I’m on the cusp of some changes right now, that’s why I’m thrilled about my connection with ASAN. The future’s ripe with possibility

What do you love about being part of ASAN / part of the food movement in Alabama?
It’s such a gift to be able to procure top notch ingredients from local farmers and create art with them. Our state is plentiful with farmers who grow and nurture amazing ingredients. Cultivating this connection to farmers has given me the impetus to work toward opening my own space, I want to become a hub for farmers to provide their signature ingredients. I want to be their spokesperson. I admire and appreciate the work they do, I want to honor that and build upon that foundation to provide them more opportunities. I started out as a farmer, I know how hard it is.

What frustrates or challenges you about the work you do, and/or the broader context in which you do it?  What keeps you up at night?
Chefs grow complacent, unwilling to give new farmers a chance, or they miss out on opportunities to create a dish with a rare ingredient. They’re also concerned about spending extra money for superior items because they’re afraid of passing on the cost to the customer, however I believe the customer is willing. Most of their experimental efforts rely on a concentration of dairy, butter, and meat, which is fine, however there’s so much more out there.

What excites you about the future of ASAN?
An opportunity to build a connection to farmers, chefs, and restaurants who are excited about their love of food.

Anything else you’d like to add?  Any question you wish I’d have asked?
What does food mean to me? Read this with a song in your head:
Food is healing
It’s art, healthy, and love
I wake up every morning thinking about how I can create that art, for you, me, and my family
It’s flow, good vibes, and infinite energy, that’s why I say live healthy, think free!

Come see Thyme and sample his delicious culinary art (AND hear his musical and poetic stylings as well!) at this year’s Graze: Birmingham!  Click here for more details.