Art is a gift to be received and shared and comes in many many forms. Paint, Cook, Travel, Poetry... you name it, if you're sharing creative energy, that's an Art. ~Steph

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

He Came, He Cooked, He Conquered! - Chef Chaz

Hi everyone! I’m happy to introduce you to Chef/Artist Charles "Chef Chaz" Smith and his company Culinary Artists! With many delicious years of experience, travel, knowledge and determination Charles is on his way to Culinary stardom and I’m happy to be able to share this interview with you.

Hi Charles! Let’s start at the beginning of Charles Smith.  One thing we discover is that all Artists had the creative energy even as small children. Even if they didn’t recognize it. What were you like as a child? 

My parents say I showed skill in drawing as early as age 4. I was an imaginative and creative child. I enjoyed reading about other countries. My maternal grandmother worked for a wealthy family and was an excellent cook. She was also multi-lingual and a real "foodie". I remember she would take me to some of the best restaurants in Pittsburgh and other cities and never made any food strange to me. By age 10 I loved caviar, veal sweetbreads (thymus/pancreas), foie gras and escargot. This prompted me to want to create new things to eat at home.

Are there other Artists in your family?

I have two older brothers who are artists, but I can't remember them painting after marriage.

Charles do you remember you first experience cooking a meal and what it felt like?

Before I was old enough to use the stove myself, I would melt things in or on the toaster creating bizarre concoctions to set beside my dad's dinner plate when he got home from work. I remember the pride I felt watching him eat what I made. To this day he's one of my biggest fans.

When and how did you realize you wanted to be a Culinary Artist?

With close to 15 years of hotel/restaurant experience and a degree in art, I would often create dishes for my gallery receptions. But I soon realized although many people enjoyed the art...everyone loved the food. BINGO! Birth of The Culinary Artists!

How did you get your start down the path?
Since I'd worked or managed nearly every front-of-house restaurant position and had been cooking for friends for years, it was a natural transition into catering.

Charles I’ve seen a wide variety of your fabulous dishes. What are your specialties and favorites?

About 12 years ago I started traveling to different countries learning about the foods that I love. I spend a few weeks or a few months soaking up as much as I can. I'm comfortable with the food of India, Thailand, Italy, Morocco and Spain. But since most of my years in the industry were in French restaurants...French food is still my favorite cuisine.

What are some of your ‘Kitchen Dos and Don’ts?
DO wash hands often
DO use the freshest and best ingredients possible
DO keep your knives sharp
DON'T forget to taste everything
Always cook with passion from the heart

What’s the largest affair you’ve catered?  Do you work alone?
I was hired to cook for a weeklong church convention. I took 3 helpers with me and they put us up in a hotel to cook lunch and dinner for 200 - 400 each day. I do all of the cooking.

What would be your Dream setting for preparing and catering a meal?
Recently I enjoyed being a Private Chef in Beverly Hills. But, in general I love to cook for people who know good food and love to eat. Also having fresh ingredients on hand is key.

You were on ‘Grill It’ with Bobby Flay in August 2010. Aside from being able to cook with Bobby, what was a personal best about that experience for you?
Cooking side by side with an Iron Chef like Bobby Flay was an amazing, But the high point was when he tasted one of my dishes and said, "Wow, that's good and cooked perfectly!"

Where can we see that episode? 
Food Network will re-air shows periodically and of course I was given a copy of my episode. But for those who missed it...maybe they'll post it to their archives.

What’s next for The Culinary Artists?
What's next? Expanding our corporate catering, the Take Home Chef/ Private Chef service is bigger now and I'm being hired for weeks at a time even flown to other cities. Drive-By Gourmet is in demand, an exclusive underground supper club and a cook book on the horizon.

You also paint. Fabulously I might add. What medium do you like best? Do you paint regularly?

Thank you! Pencils was my first medium and many say still my best, I still paint abstracts and portraits, but now by commission the one I did for Whoppi Goldberg.

Here's a portrait I did that includes the "cooking dynamic" of my mom'side of the family. The grandmother I spoke about, the grandfather who was also an excellent cook (I never met him) and my mom (in this portrait she's about 21)
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful Art. What Inspiration/Advice would you give to upcoming Culinary Artists and Artists in general when it comes to following the Dream?

Believe in yourself. Work hard for what you want and hone your skills to get there. You have the power to shape your future.

Thank you so much Charles. Fabulous interview and we wish you all of the success and colorfulness in the world! :-)

How can we find out more about you and Culinary Artist?

plus various magazine and newspaper archives (Whirl, Pgh Post Gazette, City Paper, Tribune Review, CMYK Graphic Design Magazine)


HeArt Collective said...

Wow... Charles is a multitalented man! I love the portrait of his family... what a great way to pay tribute. The Whoopi Goldberg piece is a really interesting combination of styles!

Great interview, Steph. Thanks for sharing Chef Charles with us.


Steph Jordan said...

:-) Thank you! Yes he is multi-talented. I will be sharing more of him on the show so stay tuned :-)

Angie Ledbetter said...

The talent just oozes off that artist chef! Wish I could taste some of his food.

Best to Chef Charles in all his pursuits.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Wow! what a gifted artist/chef!

It was so good to stop by and see what's going on and to "meet" Chef Charles! :-D

Steph Jordan said...

Thanks ladies. Wouldn't that be an awesome dining experience? Yum! Yay Chef!

Charles said...

Thanks for all of the positive feedback on the great article Stephanie wrote on me. Things have been pretty busy, but your comments help keep me going! Thank you! Chef Chaz


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