Describe yourself in a six-word sentence.

I am a luxury renaissance man.

What was the last thing you posted on social media?

A reel from the Grand Opening event I catered for Aston Martin/ Bentley @ Exclusive Automotive Group in the Washington DC area.

What do you think is the main challenge facing LGBTQ people in your community? 

Two of the biggest challenges are division and politics. Due to social media, and the internet, it is easier to have access to information. People in various spaces are noticing microaggressions and flat-out mean people for no reason. You have different communities talking about each other all the time while making assumptions which causes discord. There is a lack of communication because everyone is using their voices and protesting but no one is actually taking the time to listen or understand one another. We have to do better.

What is your favorite LGBTQ business where you live?

I do not have a favorite LGBTQ business where I live. I like to support LGBTQ businesses and when I am in my city I support them when I can, but I travel so much I rarely have time to go out in my city. When I am home, I am working on a project, cooking for an event, or planning my next move. But, if I had to choose I would choose my own business because I know my team is diverse, we work hard, we have fun and we are constantly growing as we build this empire.

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the culinary industry?

  • Travel and taste food from all over the world. I lived in Spain for almost 3 years. I took advantage of that experience to immerse myself in the culture and food. I learned so many things. If you can travel abroad, do it and make sure to talk to the Chefs and/or cooks when you go eat. When you dig deep into other cultures and traditional foods from other countries you can find a unique culinary voice of your own that allows you to stand out from the average chef.
  • Experiment while cooking with different techniques, spices, and environments. I got a lot of spices from Tanzania and they are much different than what I normally use, so practicing the utilization of the spices in my dishes is fun. It has expanded my palate a great deal.
  • Challenge yourself as much as possible to grow. Take the most complex dishes and play around with them. That will make the easy ones a walk in the park. I made a Sartu Di Riso some years back and was not excited about all the steps. But, once I did it a few times, the process became a flow and it sharpened my technical abilities. I now understand why the process is just as important as the finished product. You can’t appreciate the culinary arts or any other art forms if you don’t understand the purpose of the process and what makes something quality versus a quick fix.
  • Keep an open mind to learning all techniques and embrace them. When my great aunt shows me things, it always gives me new perspectives on styles and techniques. You can learn from anyone, and learn from any situation. Whether good or bad, the lessons learned will be valuable for your journey.
  • When it comes to being a Chef, think outside of the box and strive to be creative and innovative. I just curated a menu a few weeks ago and I made dishes that were very unfamiliar to the audience but my confidence kept me on task to add my unique flair and they loved having something familiar that tasted different to their palate but delicious beyond their belief.

How would you describe the foodie scene in Washington D.C. where you currently live?

The Foodie scene in DC is great! We have so many great new restaurants popping up to try. We have a growing number of different types of Michelin-rated restaurants. There are a lot of small mom-and-pop restaurants that have amazing food too. DC is definitely a food destination worth exploring.

Do you find it harder for gay chefs to find their footing in the culinary industry?

From my experience no because culinary arts is different. If a person is a badass in the kitchen the Executive Chef most likely does not even care. Now I will say in the culinary TV world, there is not enough gay representation on TV or diverse gay representation and I think it is long overdue for more diversity and exposure.

What has been your proudest culinary moment to date?

My proudest culinary moment to date is completing a passed 12-course Hors d’oeuvre service of over 200 people. We had access to three kitchens and executed everything flawlessly. The room was filled with industry leaders and power players from across the globe. I was so proud of my team for getting the job done and making me proud as a business owner. Truly a moment I will never forget.

Who are some of the chefs that inspired you?

Some of the chefs I am inspired by are people like Chef Kwame Onwuachi because he is so talented. His food and cooking style is fabulous. I also admire Chef Jose Andreas. His philanthropic work alone inspires me because I am working on a project to build an All Girls School in Zanzibar, Tanzania Africa. Lastly, Chef Fabio Trabocci because he made the best Paella I have had outside of Spain itself period. Absolutely brilliant.

Over the course of your career, how have you seen inclusivity in the food industry change?

I have seen it change but there is still a long way to go. I know there are highly trained people of color that should be in Michelin-level kitchens. When I dine in these establishments I do not see much diversity and I have eaten at Michelin restaurants in NY, DC, Chicago, Paris, London, Tokyo, and Milan. You can find the ingredients used by people of color in kitchens around the world at every level. Yet, when it comes to the most elite places you can find our ingredients and influence but not our people. This definitely needs to change because if we can inspire that means we deserve to be industry leaders too.

What is your least favorite kitchen task when preparing any meal?

My least favorite kitchen task when preparing a meal is making dough for Jamaican patties. I love them but making the flaky dough is a process that takes time and makes my back hurt (LOL). I like to get to the fun part of seasoning and cooking. The only part that’s better than that is eating and I love that too. Lol.

Keep up with Cordell “The Culinary Diva” Robinson:

Social Media:

@CordellTheCulinaryDiva (Instagram/TikTok)