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Name: Darius T. Williams
Occupation: Chef and dot com CEO
ESSENCE.COM: So how did you learn to cook?
DARIUS WILLIAMS: I'm self-taught. I used to sit in the kitchen while my grandmother and mother cooked and I learned by watching them. I mixed that with a bit of instinct and help from a few outside sources like food shows and magazines and I was on my way. I eat a lot, so I've learned a great deal about mastering flavor combos by remembering meals that I've liked.
ESSENCE.COM: What is your biggest cooking tip you are willing to share?
WILLIAMS: Don't be afraid to try flavors. A lot of times people don't cook because they're afraid to try different things. The only way you'll know if something's going to turn out right is to mix and match. Your new creation could be exactly what the world is waiting for. Load up on dry seasonings, experiment with creating marinades and try cooking with herbs. If it goes wrong, you can start over. Embrace flavors!
ESSENCE.COM: And have you been successful impressing the ladies with your cooking skills?
WILLIAMS: I've been super-successful. It helps when a brother knows how to do more than just run his mouth. When I tell women I cook, they give me this "yeah right, negro" look. Then, as they get to know me better and try my food, they really become impressed. Cooking helped to land me a great woman who enjoys not just what I cook, but watching how I cook as well.
ESSENCE.COM: Tell us about your signature dish.
WILLIAMS: The people I cook for love my twists on soul food, from my sautéed green bean salad with smoked turkey bits and crispy potatoes, a spin on green beans and white potatoes, to my pomegranate-braised short ribs served atop smoked gouda polenta, and my macaroni & cheese that starts off with a roux and a classic Béchamel or white sauce. It's those dishes that capture what I try to do.