Talent will speak for itself but don’t expect it to be taken seriously — — I would work 13hrs a day 6 days a week just so people would focus on the bad and still say the food is coming out amazing people love it!
As part of our series about the lessons from Inspirational BIPOC Chefs & Restaurateurs, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Chef Brett Wright. He has been cooking locally and beyond for 25 years. Committed to veganism for years, Wright wants to transform the way people view vegan cuisine. Wright aims to his space to help those who are beginning their journey as it was done for him by other chefs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know’ you a bit. Can you share with our readers a story about what inspired you to become a restaurateur or chef?
I took cooking seriously because I didn’t see any chefs like me in the industry getting the respect they deserved. So I began that journey with the mindset of changing how we as black chefs approach and present ourselves to the industry.
Do you have a specific type of food that you focus on? What was it that first drew you to cooking that type of food? Can you share a story about that with us?
No specific type of food just food in a whole! My passion is too deep to allow myself to be boxed in by branding to one type of food! Modern cooking grabbed my attention along with molecular gastronomy! I would only see nine black chef getting noticed for this amazing style of cooking! So I chose that path willing and able to stand and make a name for myself.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
To be a good student is to be a great listener. I wanted to learn everything so I became the perfect listener so I could apply everything to my journey!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you became a chef or restauranteur? What was the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
The most interesting thing that happened me?!!.. lol well I was looked at as an Instagram chef by a chef I looked up to and still do! It made me want to be better and do better! Show people that my food doesn’t change from social media to your table!
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? How did you overcome this obstacle?
I was a chef that wasn’t interested in cooking soul food and that was the box we were locked into. So most people overlooked or just didn’t take me serious. So I made sure to stay focused, learned, studied and then applied myself in all aspects of cooking!
In your experience, what is the key to creating a dish that customers are crazy about?
Using local and seasonal ingredients. Plus staying true to your feelings when creating the dish! By creating an experience you change the dynamics to the dish and elevate the dinner!
Personally, what is the ‘perfect meal for you’?
Browned coconut oil rice, Stew Lentils, plantain, a nice salad with some grilled corn!
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? What impact do you think this will have?
Not at the moment! Right now I’m using my time to help restaurants not close their doors due to COVID! It will show that learning to regroup and doing things out of the norm can be effective and most definitely help you keep a great grip on your establishment.
What advice would you give to other chefs or restaurateurs to thrive and avoid burnout?
Build a team that gives you a piece of mind! Seek better in your team before you seek attention! This will give you the space to network and do the things that are needed to grow your name.
Do you have any advice for “up and coming” young chefs who are in need of guidance to become successful in the culinary world?
Work for as many chefs as you can before you consider yourself to be ready! There is a lot to learn so be a great student! Take what was taught and apply it to your journey! But never stop for anyone unless they walk beside you on your journey!!
COVID-19 has been a trying time for all of us. How are you growing your business during COVID-19? What advice do you have for any chefs who are trying to stay relevant during this time?
Practice proper cooking at all times. Re market your advertising so people know you are taking all the right steps to keep people safe. For me to stay relevant is to stay focused.
Thank you for all that. Now we are ready for the main question of the interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started as a Restauranteur or Chef” and why? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Be a great student — -My first three years were so bad because I wouldn’t listen to anyone! I lost a job with a chef I really liked a lot!
2. Be willing to go the extra step — — I missed the mark on dishes that could have been amazing if I just went the extra mile!
3. Your best can always be better — — after doing 300 covers and feeling like there was a better way to do it and finding that solution.
4. You are in better than your weakest link — figuring out your free time on the line can be beneficial to the team mate next to you.
5. Talent will speak for itself but don’t expect it to be taken serious ly— — I would work 13hrs a day 6 days a week just so people would focus on the bad and still say the food is coming out amazing people love it!
What’s the one dish people have to try if they visit your establishment?
Meatless dumplings with jerk pineapple sauce
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
One chef for all, all chefs for one!!! Making sure as chefs we do our diligence to our communities and each other! Bringing unity and equality to all of the people! Food is the platform to bring so many different cultures under one roof!
How can our readers further follow you online?
Follow me on Instagram @ras_bj_the_chef
Thank you so much for these insights. This was very inspirational!