Chef Staff Interview - Scott Downs
1. Where were you born?
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2. Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
No, when I was in high school I had a great opportunity to go to a culinary vocational school and that was pretty much the start of my career. I received some scholarships to attend the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach and from there I always wanted to work in 5 star resorts and hotels to learn from Executive Chefs from all over the world.
3. What was your first kitchen job?
I was a prep cook for Hemmingway’s Restaurant in the Hyatt Grand Cypress. I would stock up and set the line for the pm cooks to walk in and start cooking for dinner service.
4. Who do you consider to be your most influential culinary mentor/teacher?
I have been very lucky to work with quite a few really talented chefs. Chef Kenneth Juran of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and Jeff Oneill from the Mar a Lago Club.
5. What is the oddest ingredient or meal you have ever had?
I was offered Balut and politely passed on it. It’s a baby duck that you eat out of its shell. There were a couple of feathers and the beak just started to develop. It is popular in the Philippines and Asia.
6. Have you ever cooked for someone famous?
Yes. Working at high end resorts I have cooked for many celebrities, athletes, and politicians. George Bush Jr. and Sr., Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Marlins, Dolphins, and Heat players. Oprah threw a party for Maya Angelou at Donald Trump’s private Mansion in Palm Beach and I was the banquet chef. There were many celebrities that attended the party.
7. Do you cook at home? What do you have in your refrigerator?
I do, but I try not to. Rice and beans, chicken and skirt steak.
8. Any memorable kitchen disasters?
For a large party in Atlanta, I made a huge kosher paella and the butane gas burner had a leak and exploded so for a couple of seconds this paella had flames shooting out from under it. Luckily the party had not started yet, so there were no guest in the ballroom.
9. Speaking of disasters…what beverage or cocktail do you like to unwind with?
I stick with soda.
10. What is your favorite dessert?
Any soufflé or Lava cake.