I talked to Baltimore native, Chef Stew, about growing up in Baltimore, his career, and his upcoming appearance on “Cutthroat Kitchen!”
Q: When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
Well, I grew up in Baltimore, but eventually moved to Essex. We would come into the city each weekend to go to my grandmothers house after church. While we were there, my grandmother was cooking around the clock. When I got home, all I could think about was food. Then I realized my mother couldn’t cook. ::laughs:: So I had to learn how. From that moment, everything revolved around food.
Q: What is your favorite meal to prepare?
I don’t really have one! Being a chef, the idea is to be able to do a lot of things really well. People try to specialize, but that puts you in a corner. I LOVE Asian and Indian Food. And of course, Maryland crab cakes!
Q: Is it true you’ve created collages of pay stubs from places you’ve worked over the years?
I did! I read the book “Think And Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Big success comes after big disappointment. I had left Baltimore to go to Atlanta to open a restaurant. But at the last moment, the deal fell through. From that point forward, I knew God would take me on a different journey than I had intended. I saved all my pay stubs from jobs such as McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc. I would work two different jobs a day. I was determined..willing to work. I wanted to make memorabilia. I have forty seven collages, including four big ones. I want them as decor in my own restaurant one day.
Q: What is it like being the chef to some of the hottest stars in Hollywood?
Shaq was my first. Rapper David Banner, Malcolm Jamal Warner, and Tracee Ellis Ross followed. I was nervous each time, but confident because I knew the food was presented well and tasted good. It’s built up my confidence. My favorite was cooking for Jasmine Guy. I grew up watching her on “A Different World.” I told her she was my TV girlfriend, and she busted out laughing.
Q: What was your experience like competing on GGG?
I was disappointed in myself! I felt like I got robbed! ::laughs:: I clearly cut my hand. I started over completely with only twelve minutes left. Being able to rebound speaks volumes about your skill set. I had originally auditioned to be on “The Great Food Truck Race”, but it didn’t happen. Right before they called me with the bad news, my home had burned down. They said they would try to get me something else. A month later, they called me for “Guys Grocery Games.” For me, it was a powerful experience. I wasn’t nervous being on the show and competing, I was nervous cooking for the celebrity judges!
Q: You’re on “Cutthroat Kitchen” this Sunday. Without giving away anything, what was that experience like?
Doing “Guys Grocery Games”..it fueled my fire. I was surprised I was chosen for “Cutthroat Kitchen” to be honest. I had to look at myself different than on “Guys Grocery Games.” I had to slow down. “Cutthroat Kitchen” is a whole different ballgame. This is about my critical thinking skills. I was scared shitless. ::laughs::
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs?
You never want to walk into a kitchen and act like a know it all. Being a chef is competitive. You’ll lose your credibility if you let on what you don’t know. Be confident. Make sure you remain humble, and have the sponge mentality and absorb everything you can.
Chef: I just want to throw all my love to Baltimore. I bleed purple wherever I go. I want to help the city stand up!
Chef Stew will be appearing on “Cutthroat Kitchen” TONIGHT on Food Network at 10pm!
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Visit Chew Stew’s Official Website