Executive Chef/Restaurateur at three restaurants – Papacitos, Brooklyn Label, and Brooklyn Standard
I got into cooking out of necessity. If I didn't cook, my sisters and I wouldn't eat because my mom was an alcoholic and drug addict. I didn't go to high school and went from 8th grade to hanging out. I was living on my own in an apartment with some punk kids at 16. Eventually I got a job as a graveyard shift cook at a diner without any professional experience other than Burger King. I was really fast and was able to do hundreds of tickets by myself. That inspired me to get formal training. So I went to a French culinary school at a community college. I worked at a lodge in Wyoming near Yellowstone and got promoted to be the line cook because I could work a 2 or 3 person shift by myself. I worked at an Italian restaurant, at a fishing lodge in Alaska in middle of the bush, a budhist temple resort in Hawaii, Arizona, and Island off the coast of Washington, etc. From 17 – 21 I did a bunch of seasonal jobs and learned all sorts of things. I worked in Boston for five years as a private chef for a wealthy family. I ended up settling in Greenpoint, BK. I couldn't get a job at any fine dining restaurants because I didn't have NY experience as a head chef. I realized I had to do something on my own. So I started my own restaurant.
WINNER!: Darius Peacock
Executive Chef, Exceptional Taste Catering
Growing up in the projects, I was never meant to be where I am today. When I said I wanted to go to culinary school, people thought I was crazy for leaving to do something other than a blue collar job. I still can hardly believe that I've worked for corporate America and now I own a successful catering business, Exceptional Taste. The idea that food has allowed me to live in a neighborhood where I can own a home, feed my family and drive my own car still blows my mind. I'm definitely a big teddy bear in the kitchen but when it's time to compete, I'm not above doing a little trash talking.
Title/Job: Chef for Red Box – supper club
Location: Brooklyn, NY
I've been cooking professionally for about 22 years. It started off when I first moved to NY from LA when I had just turned 21. I thought I'd become a model. So I got a job as a manager at a restaurant and within a week I fired the cook because he was drunk and was being obscene. I took over the dinner service. I always lived on the edge. That was my first introduction and after being in the managing side of things for a couple of years, I decided that I wanted to be in the kitchen. So I moved back to my parents' ranch in LA. It has about 3000 fruit trees with all kinds of varieties of fruits. We sold them to top restaurants all over LA. So I started getting involved with chefs and started foraging for restaurants. I'd go to the greenmarkets and getting them the freshest produce. Then I came back to NY and worked at different restaurants and opened my own espresso bar in Carol Gardens, BK. Sold it and eventually opened up my own restaurant in Brooklyn and built up a following. And now I invite these people to my dinner parties.
Title/Job: Sous Chef at Gordon Ramsay at The London
I'm from Essex, in England, and wanted to be a soccer player, but ended up going to culinary school at Westminster College in London instead. I've won lots of soccer competitions, as well as several chef competitions in London. I've worked with some of the top chefs in the world, including Daniel Boulud and now, Gordon Ramsay. I like training people and showing people what the best chefs showed me how to do. At Gordon Ramsay's I cook French with Asian and American influence. I think I can win because I know I can produce good food, and most of all, because I hate losing!