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Dondi McNulty
featured chefs dondi mcnulty interview
G.C. - Who do you regard as your mentor, or the most influential Chef that you worked for ?

D.M.- My Mother inspired me to cook, and anyone that has checked out my Mom's cooking will understand why, it's not too hot! Secondly my Grandmother she did not work like my Mom so she had the time to cook up some real tasty dishes. Professionally though I would say Hubert Des Marais, the Chef of The Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach. His energy, style and spontinaity permeates though to everyone.

G.C - What inspires you

D.M. - The excitment of cooking is inspirational in its self, but pleasing, amazing and impressing people is the icing on the cake!

G.C. - Describe your culinary style & philosophy.

D.M. - I would say that Modern American is what you will sample at The National with a Floridian influence and of course a twist of home, Louisianna. It sound like a cocktail, but a real good one....My philosophy is real short, use the best products keep, it simple.

G.C - What drives you / makes you get out of bed to work?

D.M. - I have two year old twins they get me up early, when you are faced with that crazy pair going to work is a very attractive thing. Seriously though I found that having a family was a real motivator plus running your own kitchen and every dish having your name on it keeps you charged.

G.C. - What is hot on your menu right now?

D.M. - Home Made Ravioi with Portobella Mushrooms and Pea Essence. Samuri Spice Seared Seabass, Nappa Cabbage Slaw and Lemon Grass Burr Lap Jus. Chef's Hot Hairy Bananas.

G.C. - What makes a great menu?

D.M.- Cooking people what they want to eat, staying within your style and keeping it simple. A little profitability never hurts either.

G.C. - What special products are you using right now?

D.M. - Good old fashioned cheese, it is not a really an 'in' thing in Florida, but here at The National we have a lot of European guests. The domestic artisan cheeses are big, but not as big as The Chef's Hot Hairy Bananas!

G.C. - What do you look for in a chef who wants to join your team?

D.M. - Someone with a modest back ground, that wants to learn what we are doing here. In our team cooks need to focus on every dish as though it was the only one that they were cooking.

G.C. - What is key in the career development of an aspiring chef?

D.M. - In the early stages I think that an aspiring chef has got to focus on working in establishments that are the best, build a good resume and sound knowlege, then the real money will follow. Longevity is important too, do not jump from job to job,otherwise eventually offers will not be so forthcoming. Secondly the longer you are in an establishment the more responsibility you will get and the learning experience will increase.

G.C. - What question would you like to see asked of another chef?

D.M. - How would they motivate their team to reach that Five Star standard, when the team members have never experienced it.

G.C. - If you were not a chef what would you be doing?

D.M. - I can't decide, a Male Stripper or a Mafia God Father.

G.C. - What is your ambition?

D.M. - To make people happy, starting in the morning with my twins, and finishing wth the guest

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Portobella Ravioli
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