Dine Diaspora’s Featured Chef Series identifies emerging chefs who are passionate about their craft and love to fuse elements of their own culture and heritage into their cuisine. This year we received applications from dynamic chefs shaping the African Diaspora culinary narratives in the USA, US Virgin Islands, United Kingdom, Nigeria, and Ghana.
We are excited to announce that our 2017 Featured Chef is Chef Sean Streete, a Jamaican born and Trinidadian raised, native of San Francisco, California. As a part of the selection process, Chef Streete’s tasting menu reflected his Jamaican and Trinidadian upbringing while incorporating innovative dining techniques within each dish. From the nostalgic feels of jerk chicken to escovitch fish, Chef Streete’s menu left us wanting to know more about his passion for food and cooking.
Dine Diaspora(DD): Why did you decide to become a chef?
Streete: My final decision in becoming a Chef was when I was introduced to the world of Michelin-Starred Chefs, and how they plated their food with tweezers. WHOA!, I WAS SOLD! I signed up at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami and said, ‘Take-My-Money!!!’ [chuckle] I admired the precision and care given to each dish; not to mention, the skill-set and dedication that these Chefs put forth in order to please others.
DD: What is your favorite food memory?
Streete: The one food memory that’s been on my mind as of late has been one of my mother making Jamaican patties in the kitchen when I was a youth. I remember flour being strewn all throughout the kitchen…I remember the feel of the flour on the rolling pin as I held it in between my mother using it…I remember the smell of the pattie as it would come out of the oven…the flaky crust.
DD: What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
Streete: I would normally say that modern-French food is my forte; however, the spirit of my cuisine would always be found in that of the West Indies. I’m Jamaican born; Trinidadian raised; in the United States. And this struggle, you will find throughout many of the preparations in the kitchen…perhaps with a little molecular gastronomy and modern refinement.
DD: What is your favorite kitchen gadget or equipment?
Streete: My favorite kitchen gadget would be the robot coupe (i.e. a heavy duty food processor found in most kitchens). “I’m lazy”, as most Chefs would preach as they move up the ladder in the industry, and can find a million uses for the robot coupe as a result of my laziness.[ Ha-ha-ha]. I would also have to make mention of the use of the fryer. I can’t wait until I find myself in a cooking competition and get to use the fryer! I had a great Korean Chef in the past that illustrated how to execute many great dishes by way of the fryer, and feel that I’ve benefited a lot by working with him.
DD: If you could cook with any other chef in the world, who would it be? And why?
Streete: Chefs that I would love to cook with…Dan Barber comes to mind. His organic approach to food is overly commendable, to say the least! I would love very much to entertain both Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert’s critique on my food as well.
DD: What do you think is the most challenging ingredient to work with?
Streete: During my stint at Morimoto Napa, there were quite a few ingredients that not only did I not know how to pronounce, but didn’t understand how to use. This is the point in my career when I began to understand the true significance in tasting food at all stages of the cooking process. This led to understanding the similarities and nuances found in the foods found in various cultures. This allowed me to grow as a Chef, and to understand and approach various ingredients minus having such a daunting approach.
DD: Name one person(dead or alive) you’d like to cook for.
Streete: I would like to have cooked for one of my granny’s whom has passed. I would love to see the expression on her face when eating my food. As much time as I’ve spent in the kitchen with my Mom; I’ve spent equally as much time in the kitchen with my Granny (My mom’s mother a.k.a. “Ma Boldon”). West Indians are pretty critical when it comes to the preparation of our food, so I wonder if I would have passed the ‘Granny Test’. All I know is that I was the favorite grandchild, and maybe that would have won me some taste points.
DD: What’s the last thing you cooked for yourself?
Streete: The last thing that I cooked for myself was… …this is hard to answer being as I don’t really cook at home. I’m thinking that it may have been lamb chops. Curry goat, being one of my favorite foods of all time isn’t as readily available in the bay area as lamb is, so I tend to prepare it whenever I can get my hands on it.
DD: What do you think is going to be the next big thing in the food world?
Streete: This is something that I and a Filipino Chef/friend of mine have had many conversations about over the past five years or so. I feel that the not only I, but the food world has been cheering on the Filipino food movement to be the next big thing as far as ‘food culture’ goes. However, I feel that the Filipino culture has suffered an identity crisis that of which reflects in the food. Filipino food is a mixture of African, Indian, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish cultures, none of which I feel that the Filipino culture today associates with, hence the disconnect in how the food is being received by the general public. I feel that once the culture embraces their roots, everything will then come full circle, and only then will their food be placed into the spotlight. On a lighter note, I feel that 3-D Imaging will be worked into food production; lessening the need for additional cooks in the workplace.