From EatDrinkJax.com: Chef Kenny Gilbert is a Top Chef star and is launching his restaurant empire in the NE Florida . His first concept, Gilbert's Underground Kitchen opened in Fernandina Beach in early 2015.
Talking with Top Chef Kenny Gilbert
1. When did you first know you wanted to be a chef?
Around the age of 11.
2. Why did you want to be a chef?
I wanted to be chef purely because I love to cook and to get reactions from people that try my food.
3. Did you have any influences in your decision to become a chef?
My parents entertained a lot and I remember always seeing people at our home happy and having a good time. It was always centered around food. That excited me so much that I just wanted to have that feeling all the time.
4. When did you first work in a restaurant?
My first real job was at Mc Donald's when I was 15. I started as a cashier. I wasn't allowed to start cooking until 16. I would sneak into the back to learn the stations and finally the manager just put me on station. I could run burger board for hours, no problem.
5. How would you describe your cooking style?
International Cuisine with a Southern influence.
6. Where did you learn to cook?
Officially at home with my parents. I took home economics in middle school and during grades 9 and 10 in high school. In my junior and senior years I studied in the Vocational Culinary Arts program. I received my Associate’s Degree at the Pennsylvania Culinary Arts Institute in Pittsburgh.
Photo by Nancy Parliment Photography.
7. What does it take to be a great chef?
Discipline, a strong work ethic and thick skin.
8. What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a chef?
If you don't love hot, stressful environments where you can get burned and cut, then don't bother.
Catch of the Day. Photo by Nancy Parliment Photography.
9. What’s your favorite part of being a chef?
Cooking and managing all of the business details.