Chefuniforms.com’s Chef of the Month for February is none other than acclaimed Chef Ron Duprat. He is a well-seasoned executive chef, culinary experimenter, connoisseur and philanthropist. He is known on season six of Bravo’s “Top Chef” as a fierce competitor, an expert in exotic flavors, often incorporating his own Haitian and Creole influences with French-Asian Fusion cuisine, a restaurateur and the author of “My Journey of Cooking.” His infectious passion about his culinary profession provides the perfect outlet for his creativity. He is leaving a long lasting legacy for up and coming chefs and the communities he touches.
Duprat is affiliated with organizations that contribute and give back to the culinary community and people all over the world, including The American Culinary Federation, Real Men Charities, Inc., Black Culinarian Alliance, No Hungry Kids, the College of Culinary Arts in Miami, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move!, and Basil Magazine’s Chef Council. According to Bravo TV, “Ron always likes to keep vanilla bean, saffron, truffles, Spanish olive oil and chocolate on hand, and his favorite thing to make is his signature flourless chocolate cake.”
Congratulations Chef Duprat and Thank You for bringing your infectious passion to ChefUniforms.com!
Chef Ron Duprat
1. What is the name of the Restaurant/Hotel you work with and where are you based?
I am the consulting food and beverage director and executive chef at the Sugar Bay Resort and Spa in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
2. Where were you born?
Mare Rouga, Haiti
3. What made you decide to become a chef?
I became interested in food and cooking at a very young age. My grandmother cooked with such fragrant and fresh ingredients that I couldn’t help but join her in the kitchen to prepare meals and learn from her cooking techniques. Joining her in the kitchen jumpstarted my passion for cooking and inspired my decision to become a chef.
4. What do you enjoy doing aside from being a chef?
Outside of being a chef, I am a strong advocate for Haiti, specifically promoting a sustainable food movement that would reduce the country’s reliance on imports and focus more on local production. Haiti is home to a rich variety of agricultural assets and I am a supporter of policies that limit the amount of imports the country uses and reward the use of Haiti’s existing culinary resources – ultimately resulting in job creation for the country’s farming industry. I also enjoy helping new chefs grow and succeed in the industry.
5. What is your favorite social media platform?
It is impossible for me to pick just one, because I connect with so many people through all of my social media channels. However, I can narrow it down to four: Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram.
6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?
A thermal circulating bath is a must for me. It enhances the flavor, texture and aroma of dishes.
I love cooking so much that I actually cook almost every day. I really enjoy experimenting with new dishes in the kitchen and also do various cooking presentations. My favorite type of cuisine is Creole Cajun and Haitian cuisines.
8. What fabric and style of chef uniform do you enjoy wearing the most?
I enjoy wearing 100% Egyptian cotton coats with a traditional fit.
9. Chef Duprat’s Shrimp and Rice Cakes Recipe
2 cups cold cooked Sushi Rice
2 large organic brown eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons red onion, minced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced
4 ounces Rock Shrimp
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup vegetable oil, for pan frying
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a bowl, combine the rice, eggs, onions and cilantro. Put into the refrigerator and chill for about 1 hour.
2. In a shallow dish, combine the flour with remaining ¼ teaspoon of Essence.
3. Divide the rice into 8 portions of ¼ cup each and form into patty shapes. Lightly coat on both sides in the flour.
4. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the rice cake in batches, adding more oil as needed, and pan fry until golden brown on both sides and warmed through, about 3 minutes preside. Press down using a spatula to flatten slightly.
His Experience and Advice
10. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?
I’ve experimented with cooking since I was young, seriously since a teenager. I perfected my techniques by attending the College Aimee Cesaire and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine.
11. What education or experience would you recommend for aspiring chefs?
Attending accredited culinary schools and programs like the Culinary Institute of America, Cornell University or La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine provide chefs the skills necessary to professionally prepare meals.
12. What would you recommend as far as on-the-job training?
Working with top-notch chefs help aspiring chefs gain experience and knowledge to apply to their career. I cannot stress the benefits of having a mentor in the industry. I’ve been blessed to have worked with fellow chefs, including Kevin A. Relf, Jaime Jerezano, Randall H. Cox or Adam Savage. Not only can I contribute my success to my strong work ethic and education, but also to the mentorship and collaboration these chefs provided me.
13. Can you offer some advice for aspiring chefs?
Connect with as many professional chefs as possible, either individually or by joining professional associations like the American Culinary Federation. Having mentors in the industry is extremely valuable, as they can provide advice and guidance gathered from their experiences to help your journey to become a chef.
14. What is your greatest challenge in getting the ingredients you need?
Seasonality and arability.
15. Do you try to experience your competitors’ food? Do you ever get ideas from them?
It is important to know what other dining options your customers have and how you can provide an even better experience. I explore these options and learn how to improve my product and service to offer customers the best experience possible.
16. Do you think it is important to visit the markets rather than just have standard orders?
I think it is very important to visit the markets, as they give chefs the foundation of all seasonal flavors and flair.
17. How do you test a new recipe without putting it on the permanent menu?
I like to prepare meals for members of our service staff and make changes or tweaks based on their feedback. I enjoy getting their opinions and incorporating their feedback into the final product.
18. What is your advice for planning a menu for a new restaurant?
Chefs should ensure that they consider food costs, customer profiles, staffing and seat turnover factors into the dishes they put on the menu.
2014 and The Future
19. What dining trends do you see taking place for 2014?
I see a few dining trends occurring in 2014 including incorporating locally sourced meat and seafood, locally grown produce, environmentally sustainable food products, healthy food options that are also kid-friendly, gluten-free cuisines and the new Haitian cuisine.
20. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef?
Eating healthy, and specifically the fight against childhood obesity, is an area that I am passionate about within and outside of my career. According to data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, obesity is disproportionally more rampant in areas with low income and education and high unemployment rates. These statistics drive me to come up with solutions for providing high quality, healthy food at affordable prices. Haiti’s fresh and healthy ingredients lend well for creating dishes with these qualities and I’m exploring business ideas to better get these dishes into the hands of people that need them.
21. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be environmentally friendly?
I do think that environmentally friendly kitchens are possible. When it comes to cooking in an environmentally friendly way, it is important to think small and to also choose energy-saving appliances.
22. How does Social Media play a role for Chefs today?
Social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, allows Chefs to quickly connect and foster relationships with customers, business partners and other chefs. Social media allows chefs to quickly share ideas with each other, promote their great work and learn more about what customers want from their dining experience.