We all have our guilty pleasures when it comes to food. Greg's includes creamy chicken ramen noodles (from the pack), and store-bought spaghetti, tossed in peppercorn ranch dressing, and topped with capers. He had me at ranch. "Chefs have the worst eating habits," Greg chuckles.
Chef Gregory Booth knows a thing or two about going against the grain and not letting labels define him. A government employee on Capitol Hill turned self-taught personal chef, Greg turned his passion for food into a bespoke career, and touts the title of personal chef for a variety of events and celebrity clients.
"I'm a Black chef, but I don't cook what's typically labeled 'black food.'
After his 9-to-5 workday, Greg always made his way to the kitchen to prepare himself a meal. Now, as a home cook I know there's nothing more satisfying (and almost therapeutic) than seeing a vision come to life through food, but cooking on the regular takes commitment. For Greg, this was more than a commitment, it was his passion.
Trading his desktop for the stove top, Greg began his journey into the culinary world through self-education. "Growing up, I always watched my parents cook," Greg states. "We never had Pizza Night on Wednesdays or Spaghetti Night on Sundays like most of my friends. In our home, my parents exposed my brother and I to different cultures through food." Taking what he learned from his childhood, Greg smelled, touched and tasted spices to understand flavor pairings and how one ingredient could complement--or throw off--others in a dish. He read often, and utilized the Internet to learn and practice culinary techniques like handling a knife properly, or trussing a chicken.
Fast-froward to present day, and you'll find Greg throwing down for company-sponsored events--like Acura, MunaLuchi Brides, and The Guyana Foundation--and for celebrities like Tichina Arnold, Cece Peniston and Jensen Atwood. All the magic happens first in the kitchen of Greg's home, endearingly named Blue Creek.
"Why Blue Creek?" I asked.
"After moving into our home, I picked up an issue of Martha Stewart Living and folks naming their homes seemed to a trend at the time. Our home has blue shutters and a blue door and overlooks a man-made body of water. 'Blue Pond' came up in discussion, but wasn't that glamorous."
Blue Creek fit the bill and from there, his personal brand and company, The Kitchen at Blue Creek, was born." Paying homage to his brand, Greg rocks a blue t-shirt underneath his chef's coat each time he suits up for an event.
In closing, Chef Greg recounts the day he picked up Food & Wine's Best New Chefs issue to discover that there were absolutely no Black chefs on the list. "I'm a Black chef, but I don't cook what's typically labeled 'black food'," Greg explained. There are tons of Black chefs doing innovative and creative things in the food world, and it's more than fried chicken, collards and black-eyes peas. For Greg, cooking is about being adventurous, stepping out of his comfort zone and continually pushing himself to tap into his creativity, one dish at a time.