Chef Donald J. Smith is a native of New Orleans, who specializes in Creole, Cajun and soul food. He has taken time out of his busy schedule to let the Major Coffee Crew get to know who he is.
What's your first memory of your love for cooking?
I can remember my mother calling me on the phone as kid, telling how to cooking and
would always say keep it on LO meaning low.
When did you know you wanted to be a Chef?
It was really as a kid but I try doing other jobs, In my mid 20’s is when I really figure it out.
Where were you trained, and how difficult was your training?
I started my train in the Bay Area at Mission College, later move back to New an started at Louisiana Vo-Tech for Culinary Arts graduated out of that program with a certification in Culinary Arts . Then I transferred to Delgado Vo-Tech to a 1 and half years program and also received a Culinary Arts certification, That when Delgado Community College started a 2 year Associate Culinary Arts program where I graduated with AOS Degree in Culinary Arts
What do you love most about your job?
It more of a passion Then a job. I love showing the art of food, also I like how my love for food touched people heart and soul with all the love I put in my cooking.
Describe your style in three words:
What’s your favorite dish to create?
It would have to be my Blackened Catfish Orleans
What four ingredients are necessary in your kitchen?
Roux, Holy Trinity (Bell Pepper, Onion and Celery)
Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
From watching other Great Chefs
If you could prepare a meal for anyone, who would it be and what would you make?
Tyler Perry- Blackened Catfish Orleans
What are you most proud of in your career?
Being Honored by Bishop Jerry W Macklin
In 2018 being one ACF Louisiana Chef of 2018
Being Honored by my peers of African American Chef in Atlanta in 2019
Name Chef Ambassador for National Black Chef Association in 2020
Published my first cookbook
Staring my own spice line
Working with the inner city kids
Are there any foods you don’t like?
Really I like just about all food because being a Chef
you have to try ever and anything lol.
Funniest kitchen incident
One day working in the kitchen alone because my line cook call out and I was hot a fish
grease, the line got busy and I dropped a whole container of pasta sauce, an I was on
fire. A thought ran through my mind would if the health department came in, sauce was
everywhere, I heard the kitchen door swing opened an, low and behold the BOH lady. All
I could was laugh, she cleaned it up then I will start your inspection, she laughed also
and said today must be your luck day
Tell me 3 things that you consider to be your cooking strengths.
If you had just one wish, what would it be?
To travel around the world in a food truck and share my love for cooking with the world.
What advice would you give young men who wants to become a chef ?
Once you have built that strategy then try to stick with it. You can certainly adjust along
the way, but make sure that you are always working from a plan.
Be Humble, Be Driven, But patience
Are you working on any big projects?
Yes, I’m overseeing a book project with of my 10 chef friend from around the world, hope
to be done by Father’s Day