Chanivia Broussard may be one the best female basketball players to ever pass through the University of Miami. By the time she left in 2003, she had scored 1,482 points (7th all-time for the Hurricanes). She holds the same rank for field goals (621) and is ranked 10th for rebounds (583).
Today, Chanivia, her mother Cindy Broussard, aunt Yvonne Waldon and slew of cousins run one of the hottest soul food joints in Miami Gardens. Perhaps it's Chanivia's star power, or Tasty's Soul Food's endless lineup of dishes, most with meaty, juicy turkey butt, that help fill the place shortly after the restaurant opens for a weekday lunch
When she isn't dishing out slow-cooked collard greens, herby dressing (also known as stuffing) studded with big chunks of turkey meat, she's running to one of Flo-Rida's (a friend from Carol City High School) video shoots with trays of oxtail and sweet candied yams.
Broussard knew I was coming, so I was suspicious of the pretty parsley garnish on my plate of juicy, dark meat fried chicken with rice and beans, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens ($12.59). Yet after I finished eating I saw big helpings of fried lobster, grilled pork chops and grilled salmon emerge from a small smoked window that led to the kitchen in the same way. There are also turkey wings on the menu, but just be aware that they're only served on Thursday. Plan accordingly.
After leaving UM she was signed to the WNBA franchise the New York Liberty in 2004 but was released shortly after. She move to Ankara, Turkey to play basketball but "found out how to say airport and came home" soon after.
She returned to Albany, Ga. (where she was born) for six months and remembered her mother's longtime dream to open a restaurant.
"When I offered to do it for her four years ago she said she wasn't ready," Broussard said. "Two years ago I asked and she said she would do it, we called up my aunt from Georgia and we all came down to open up this restaurant." Tasty's opened in January 2012.
On an average day, you'll often find most of the family there. The Broussard name, according to Cindy, comes from a few generations of the family (presumably Creoles) who lived in New Orleans. The real boss is Anaya Elisa Green, Chanivia's 11-year-old cousin, who's called Yaya. She paces back and forth behind the granite-topped counter, asking me if I like my food several times, and shouting orders at much taller relatives.
It's clear who's next in line to run the place.
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As for Chanivia (who catered Trayvon Martin's funeral) she said she's looking at starting up a couple of nonprofits to bring sports to Carol City High and other inner city school.
"When there's nothing for them to do," she said, "that's when violence starts."
For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.