Chef Sean Thompson, Executive Chef at Chops Lobster Bar in Boca Raton, Florida, is our Chef of the Month for April! Chef Thompson’s 13+ years of hospitality experience and his ability to make our mouths water with a simple picture of his food made him the obvious choice to be our next featured Chef. Below is our interview with him. Enjoy!
Where were you born?
I was born in Memphis, TN. We stayed there until I was ten years old, then we moved to Atlanta.
Where do you work and where are you based?
I work at Chops Lobster Bar in Boca Raton.
What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
My chef knives – because they are the most necessary. I couldn’t do anything without them.
What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
Taste – from day 1, when I decided to do this as a career, I was constantly training my palate. My palate is much more distinguished than any other sense because I put an emphasis on making it that way.
What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
The best advice I could give is to work hard, and don’t let anything get in the way of your dreams. Do whatever it takes – that’s exactly what I did, and how I got to the level I’m at. If you are not 100% passionate about this, don’t do it. It’s one of those careers where you have to live for it. I am more passionate about this than anything else on the planet. I could not see myself doing anything else.
The main chef that took me under his wing reminded me on a daily basis that food has integrity. It is honest – it’s either good or it’s not. It never lies.
What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
Knife skills. If you want the title of “chef” – the title of “chef” is overused in today’s culture, but if you want to actually earn the title – your knife skills need to be on point. People eat with their eyes before they eat with their mouth. You must have a serious attention to detail or you won’t be taken seriously in this industry.
What does good food mean to you?
When it comes to me and food, I’m very different than a lot of chefs. I always taste my food, but I’m not passionate about eating. I’m more passionate about cooking for other people. I rarely cook for myself. The one thing I love about food is that it is the universal language – it’s the best way to bring people together. Fond memories always have food as the centerpiece.
What trends do you see emerging in the near future?
So many trends come and go. History always repeats itself. Classic French cuisine seems to be coming back, along with a return to the fine dining experience. Casual food has been such a big thing in past years.
What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets)
Comfort is important, but I like the sleeves to be tight. Nothing too baggy. I prefer long sleeves to short sleeves – I like to be able to roll them up.
What is your go-to chef outfit? Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc? Comfortable chef pants, a white coat, and a long dark-colored bistro apron. I enjoy wearing the bistro aprons.
Favorite ingredient to work with?
Salt. Can you imagine a kitchen without salt? Without salt, you have nothing.
Favorite City to dine out in?
Memphis, TN – it’s my hometown, and I love the feeling of home I get while dining there.
Best Dish you have ever made?
I can’t answer that question because a chef is only as good as his last dish.
Place you eat most often on your days off?
At home. In the past five years, I’ve lost about 70 lbs. I eat very healthy now. You are what you eat, and you only have one body, so you have to take care of it. You’re the only one who can.
Person you would most like to cook for?
My grandfather. He passed away when I first started getting into cooking. He’s my hero, and I’d love for him to see what I’ve been able to accomplish.
What made you decide to become a chef in the first place?
I was going to school, not knowing what to do. I’d thought about a business degree, but my personality does not work well with a cubicle. I had kitchen jobs that I found enjoyable in high school, and I reminded myself of the intensity of working in the kitchen. It was a rush. I loved being in the kitchen and I love the work aspect of it.
What is new on your DVR?
Mostly ESPN 30 for 30. I love watching documentaries (especially sports ones).
Thank you and congratulations again, Chef Thompson!