HOT Plates: An Interview with Rescupies Owner and Chef Kenyatta Smith
Have you ever been to a restaurant or a friends home for dinner and the meal was absolutely to die for? The presentation was on point, and you sat and thought to yourself…I can do this…I’ll make this next week. Only to find that you’re not as good a cook as you thought you were? We’ve all had those moments when we looked at something and thought it was easy and found out the hard way that it wasn’t. LOL We reached out to Kenyatta Smith, Chef and Owner of Rescupies, to pick his brain about the ins and outs of being a true “chef”.
UMM: I understand that you are a Cincinnati Firefighter. Tell us how your career as a chef unfolded.
KS: Yes, I’ve been a CFD firefighter / Paramedic for just about 17 years! My career as a chef came the first day I had to cook at the firehouse as a rookie – I was warned not to mess it up (they will never let you live it down in your 25 year career). Luckily I didn’t mess it up and they loved it!
UMM: I’m sure you get asked this question a lot. Where did the name Rescupies come from?
KS: Hmmm, It’s a play on words – Rescue Recipes! Dishes to save your night!! (the whole being a firefighter thing made me want to tie it all together)
UMM: Who were the biggest inspirations for your career and what part did they play in the path you chose?
KS: My father was a Lieutenant in the Cincinnati Firefighter Department since I was born and retired from a very successful career in 2001. He helped to change diversity in the CFD and across the country. I wanted to follow in his footsteps! My Mom however inspired me to cook and create my own twist on recipes! She told me that one day I should write a book. Unfortunately, she never lived to see it in person (passed away from cancer in 2008) but I am assured that she was and is with me every step of the way.
UMM: I’m sorry to hear about your mom, but yes, I’m sure she’s definitely with you every step of the way. How do you juggle being a firefighter and a chef?
KS: They are one in the same to me. My career is being a firefighter who at times will cook some Rescupies at the firehouse and I don’t think my co workers mind that at all!
UMM: Your dishes look absolutely mouthwatering and word on the street is that they taste better than they look. What is your specialty and why did you choose it?
KS: Thank you. I hope the check clears from me paying them to say that! If I can only choose 1 specialty, it would be the Jerk Chicken Pasta! It has the right amount of spice and sweetness to make your night a great one!
UMM: If you had to choose, what is the one kitchen gadget you can’t live without and why?
KS: A knife of course, because cutting with a spoon isn’t so practical.. believe me I’ve tried it on occasion!
UMM: How much of your work is done outside of the kitchen?
KS: The kitchen part is easy, it’s the prep work that has to be done before an event or cooking class. Promotions, putting the menu together, coming up with new and delicious recipes, taking pictures of the food (because the first picture thru 30th unfortunately are never the best ones) that gaining the attention of potential new clients is really the hard parts of this! But it’s all in fun, so I truly enjoy it!
UMM: How important has social media and the internet been in the marketing of Rescupies?
KS: Social media has been key in the promotions of Rescupies. I can fix a dish and post it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to gather attention when working on a new class, or give out the recipe of the week, way better and quicker than doing it by postal mail! It gives you an audience outside of your immediate locality. I’ve had chefs from Japan inquire about a few recipes through instagram!
UMM: Where do you go when you want to eat at a restaurant?
KS: There isn’t one particular restaurant that sticks out over another. I’m a simple yet imaginative lil chubby kid by nature, so I love to go to places that pushes the limits of food design and creativity, always looking to gain an idea for the next dish.
UMM: Tell me a little about the events you sponsor / participate in.
KS: Rescupies conducts “Tasting Events” with live demos on cooking a particular dish and afterwards having wine and a live DJ. Personal cooking classes are also an option for friends, corporate team building events or family fun! Rescupies also participates in various community activities and cooking competitions!
UMM: What advice can you give our readers who are aspiring to become a chef?
KS: You can do it! If you have a passion for cooking, never let anyone or anything stand in your way, never look back with regrets! (just make sure your first dish is good!)
UMM: What can we look for in the future for you and Rescupies?
KS: I’m working on a cooking show and have already finished the pilot episode!
Also, a second book is currently in the works and working on an event called “Cook and Connect“…a networking event involving the art of cooking and Rescupies! Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your great magazine and I look forward to working more with you in the near future!
UMM: And we look forward to working with you (and tasting some of your delicious Rescupies) in the near future as well. For our readers who are looking to bring variety to the dinner table, be sure to click the book cover below and pick up your copy of Kenyatta’s cook book:
Until next time…Love Self First…the rest will follow!