Chef Dorant Turns His Passion for Food into a Satisfying Career

Chef DorantChef Dorant is a culinary professional with over 15 years of experience under his belt. He has traveled the world and cooked for well-known individuals like Tony Blair, Will Smith, Mayor Bloomberg and Barbara Walters. Many have raved that his passion for food can be tasted through his cuisine. His latest venture, Wild Basil Caf? and Pizza located in Morris Plains, NJ, captures the essence of Chef Dorant?s upbeat personality and seasoned cooking skills. When did you start cooking?

Chef Dorant: I grew up in Spanishtown, Jamaica and was extremely poor. I lived with my father and my brother in one room and we cooked outside in the tenement yard. My mother left us in Jamaica and came to the US to work and save money to help us immigrate to America. As an eight year-old boy, it was my job to do the food shopping and cook for my father and brother. I had to walk miles to each market ? meat, vegetables, dairy, etc ? and then arrive home to cook. It was a very hard life but it was the start of my cooking career, little did I know then. Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?

Dorant: As a boy, my dream was to be an engineer. I loved to think about things I could invent or how to solve problems, particularly in the area of energy. Unfortunately, my financial circumstances did not allow me with the opportunity to pursue higher education. I arrived in the US at 13 years old and finished high school. After high school, I delved into sales. I have very good ?people skills? which helped me do extremely well in insurance sales as well as retail sales. When did you realize you could actually cook for a living?

Dorant: In my late teens and twenties, I often cooked for my family. I liked to experiment with different concoctions. It must?ve been the inventor passion in me coming out through food.? My good friend, Kim, who is now my wife, knew I could cook fairly well. She worked for a large investment bank and had planned a promotion party for her boss. The caterer she hired actually forgot about the party and she learned of this the night before. She called me in a panic and asked me if I could cook for forty people that evening. At about 6pm we went food shopping and cooked all night long in her kitchen at home. We brought the food to her job for lunch and everyone raved about how delicious it was. It was shortly after that event, that I decided I would attend culinary school. I realized that I had a gift! What is your signature dish?

Dorant: This is a really tough question. People who have tasted my food consistently rave about my sauces. Sauces are my biggest strength and probably what I enjoy preparing the most, but I also love putting unexpected combinations of food together. In my restaurant, two of the more popular dishes are Jamaican Jerk Chicken Flatbread and a Caramelized Peach Salad.??? How would you describe your cooking style?

Dorant: I infuse each dish with my passion for food and people. I love to surprise people with something special or cater to a dietary constraint. When people come into my restaurant, I quite frequently ask them to sample something I am preparing in the back.? Most of my dishes have a French or Italian influence and sometimes a splash of my Caribbean background.? With over 15 years of culinary experience, what continues to fuel your fire to be a chef?

Dorant: I get a real thrill out of seeing my customers? faces when they taste my food. I love people and I love food, and good food makes people really happy!
? What’s next for Chef Dorant?

Dorant: I believe in taking life one day at a time. My latest venture, Wild Basil, was not a planned one but is a wonderful unexpected twist in my life. It is just a month old, and I plan to spend the foreseeable future making a real mark on my community with my food. If people walk out of my restaurant, a little happier than when they?ve walked in, then I?ve been successful for that day.