Chef Ron Duprat
What is your occupation and academic background and how did you come to work in this field?
CULINARY EDUCATION: I was educated at College Aimee Cesaire and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine. I grew up in a very poor family, so you can imagine that the food was very limited. I always dreamt of bringing food to my family in Haiti, and cooking for them. I was not like a super chef but, I had a deep passion inside and that passion continues to develop who you have in front of you today.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
Some of my biggest challenges in mywork is trying to slow down. I am only human, and I try to accomplish many things because of what I love to do, which is cooking! By doing what I love most to do, to others it seems hard, but remember the passion that I have inside for cooking keeps me moving constantly. I have done private dinner parties for Usher, Beyonce, but they are not the greatest challenge. I would leave that to the fight against childhood obesity. According to the American Heart Association, 2012 for America had 23.9 million children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese. The obesity epidemic is disproportionally more rampant among children living in low income, low education, and areas with high unemployment rate, according to data from the National Survey of Children’s Health.
In the Haitian culture, young girls are often encouraged to be the one to learn how to cook. How did you come to not only learn but excel?
I did not see cooking as a young boy or girl thing, it was my way of escaping the harsh realities that were chasing me (starvation). I believe the problem in the Haitian culture is that we have not embraced the fact that we are creative and can do anything we put our mind to, young boy or young girl.
What was the reaction of your family and friends when you expressed a desire to make this your career?
You can Imagine they said, hurry because they were hungry (joke)!
But seriously, they were a little apprehensive. As young boy I was told to become a doctor or a lawyer. I broke the mold, and I think ever since I did that they are happy.
What have been the defining moments of your career thus far?
Oh my gosh! There are too many to mention because again like I always say, “I cook food, because I love doing it.” So the moment that truly impacted my life is the moment I realized that I can make a difference by turning the stove on.
You have been asked by First Lady Michelle Obama on her ‘Let’s Move Campaign’ and have been recognized on such outlets as Essence. Do you feel you’ve accomplished all that you have wanted to in your career?
First of all, I was honored when the First lady of the United States of America wanted to partner with me. These are the moments that are markers for me to continue what I am doing. These are the stepping stones to something greater. As long as I am here there is no full accomplishment. Think about this, if all of my accomplishments were met already, I would not need to be on this interview. So I make sure to keep myself at a level where I never loose site of who I am as a person, chef, and business man to continue to push forward.
Since cooking is your career, do you enjoy cooking for yourself when you’re at home?
A guy has got to eat! Lol! Yes, I enjoy making my belly happy. Being out on the road cooking for everyone else is fun, but it can feel even better when I get a chance to do it for myself.
Is it hard for you to enjoy other people’s meals without making some suggestions?
No not at all. As long as you know what you are doing, we should have no problems. If you can’t cook, you just can’t cook. I am an Islander at heart, so you can imagine I like my food spicy. I am open to other chefs always. Without each other we would not exist.
What do you hope your career and legacy will teach others?
If you open your eyes, but don’t open them to the outside. Look within yourself and ask “What do I want to do to make a difference. Believe in yourself and like Nike says “Just do it!”
Are there any upcoming engagements you’d like to share?
Well, where do I start? I am apart of the Chefs of the Caribbean, Recently I have teamed up with business owners to bring the Island cuisine back to Miami, Florida at Moca Cafe Lounge. I have a partnership with Rastelli Direct for my gourmet sauces. I am preparing for a global tour with Fivestar Chef, and I am the Culinary Embassador at the State Department. The one thing I am patiently waiting to see is if my favorite Secretary of State will run for Presidency! I also have a book that is out on Amazon.com, in Barnes and Noble as well called “My Journey of Cooking”.
What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have impact?
Always think outside of the box. If you are not doing that then you cannot create as you were meant to. Make sure that everything is driven with passion.
Would you recommend NAHP to Haitian students and professionals? Why?
I would recommend any organization that promotes awareness to what individuals are doing in the community, especially when NAHP is promoting accomplishments in a positive light. Thank you for the time and make sure you go and read my book; “My Journey of Cooking”