Our June interview is with American French Caribbean Professional Chef Ron Duprat. You might recognize him from his time competing on Bravo’s Top Chef television program or from Spike TV’s Bar Rescue. Or you might know him as the author of the book, My Journey of Cooking. You might know his name from all the charitable initiatives he has been instrumental in promoting. Educated in the culinary arts in Paris, France, the chef is a man of many talents and interests. He took some time to discuss these with us in an interview that covered a variety of topics from diversity in the culinary arena to his time serving as a United Stated Culinary Ambassador.
Flavorful World: In addition to your busy schedule as a professional chef, restaurateur, author, and television personality, you also lend your time and voice to a variety of charitable initiatives, many of them aimed at promoting diversity in the culinary world and educating our youth. Tell us what you consider to be the most valuable benefits that society reaps from supporting these causes.
Chef Ron Duprat: Diversity is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This include race, ethnic origin and color, religion and creed, sexual orientation, age and ability, to name but a few.
The recognition of a common humanity is the first step in the celebration of our differences. Diversity is the chief informant of the creative life force and the central reality in our understanding and stewardship of it. Differences become strengths in a collaborative effort. Collaboration is a path to productivity, profit and peace.
FW: What is your method for continuing to challenge yourself with regard to creating new menus and implementing fresh culinary viewpoints in your meals?
CRD: Throughout my Culinary career, I was able to travel many places, and discover and appreciate different cultures. These were my first experiences in going out of my comfort zone and reaching out to the world. As a chef trained in French cuisine, I was honored to work with some of the world’s best non-TV chefs. Up until now, this has been the most memorable point when I am creating new menus. I’m always implementing fresh culinary viewpoints in my creations. These experiences shape me in a big way to challenge myself to be different than everyone else.
FW: In 2012, you were named a Culinary Ambassador for the U.S. State Department by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What would you say has been your most significant professional or personal accomplishment as a Culinary Ambassador?
CRD: Food is always the best way to bring people together. For me, visits to embassies and restaurants as a culinary ambassador, that was my personal accomplishment. I met some of the best chefs in Southeast Asia who wanted to know more about U.S. advances in moving food from farm to table and building stronger businesses.
FW: Summertime is in full swing. Tell us about your favorite comfort food to enjoy during the warmer months of the year, and what makes it your favorite.
CRD: Wow, my ultimate? My favorite comfort food as kid from the Caribbean would have to be some good Goat, Rice and Beans and some Haitian Legume with some sauce Pois because it makes all my feelings go away back to my childhood.
FW: You are a student of École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France, as well as College Aimé Césaire. What is your fondest memory of your time spent at each institution, and why?
CRD: So many moments. I do not have one over-the-top moment, but I have a few. One of my favorite assignments was working as a volunteer for the France Bocuse D’or and working with Joël Robuchon.
FW: What are you working on right now, in terms of current or future events, public/televised appearances, etc.?
CRD: Well, a few things we are not legally able to talked about, but we will definitely have something new for you to discover very soon.
FW: Being a chef wasn’t necessarily the career path you expected to take early in life. What advice can you offer to someone who might be reading this and weighing whether or not culinary school and a professional chef’s career are for them?
CRD: Cooking shows have destroyed so many careers, because everyone wanted to be on Food Network or Top Chef, but never took the time to learned the basic fundamentals of the Repertoire de La Cuisine.
FW: Your cooking has been described as a blending of Caribbean, French, and Asian cuisines. What Asian culinary aspects/techniques do you feel most drawn to, and why?
CRD: I just try to be innovative enough to defer to traditions, but push the envelope while keeping my Caribbean roots floating through every ingredient.
FW: When you aren’t cooking/eating delicious things, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
CRD: When I am not working, I am cooking and working on a new book, “Life as a Black Chef in America”.
*Note to readers: Chef Ron is always active and always working on something aimed at making the world better for us all to live (and eat!) in. Find him on Twitter and Instagram to stay current on what he’s doing and where.
This article first appeared on FlavorfulWorld.com.