Crystal Harvey shows food service is about caring

Crystal Harvey shows food service is about caring

Miami native Crystal Harvey has traveled far from her youthful beginnings in the hospitality business.

The journey began at the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, a magnet program at Miami Beach Senior High School. After graduating, Harvey attended Florida International University and earned a degree in hospitality management. Her FIU education was made possible by the Black Hospitality Initiative (BHI), a nonprofit organization that offers scholarships, talent development and more to Black students who want to join the hospitality industry.

Today, the 45-year-old is a member of BHI’s admission committee, where she now has the power to grant other young, Black hopefuls the same opportunity provided to her.

“I just try to take what others have instilled in me and then I pass it on to the next generation,” Harvey said.

After college, she spent 10 years at Carnival Cruise Lines as a corporate trainer. Then, in 2010, she and her husband, John, founded Your Savory Fare. It began as a catering company that served public officials, celebrities and others, and events like backyard barbecues and graduations.

When lockdown began, Harvey and her husband decided to bottle and sell their staple flavors to clients as J.G.T. Seasoning, named after their children: Jayson, Gabrielle and Trenton.

After the pandemic, the duo rebranded to execute training, consulting, coaching and management for businesses under the name Crystal Clear Hospitality.

“I wanted to teach people the way in which I learned,” said Harvey, who’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in hospitality management at FIU. “I took it upon myself to actually start observing. And I wanted to be the type of trainer that actually cared.”

She approaches her work with intention and thoughtfulness. She doesn’t like the stigma that surrounds service, that “it’s something people don’t want to be associated with,” she said. Service, she believes, is just a way to help others.

“I like that I am able to benefit from the successes and those kinds of things, but really, it’s about me giving to others,” Harvey said.

Last summer, she and her family visited The King Center in Atlanta to learn about the importance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work. She says she sees in herself a quality King practiced: creativity.

“King and his group … weren’t just going out there trying to cause a big riot; they were trying to do it in a creative fashion so that it would get the attention of people,” she said. “Creativity is definitely instrumental in knowing how to navigate situations.”

Another similarity Harvey says she shares with King is building relationships.

“Look at the people he was linked with arm-in-arm during the marches,” Harvey said. “To this day, I’m now linked arm-in-arm with people in the industry who are able to work side by side with me … to help others and bring others into that same mindset of helping, gratitude and servitude.”

Harvey, also like King, has had people around her rooting for her success and guiding her along the way. In addition to BHI, which paid for her books, knives, uniforms and tuition when she was a student, she credits her father for his encouragement when she felt like quitting the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism in high school.

He said that if she stuck with it, she would be successful.

“I know that I may have been born of a certain race and gender,” Harvey said. “I can’t help how I was born, but what I can do is further the message of inclusion.”