While most 19-year-old are more concerned with take-out, Chef Darrell "Das" Smith was hosting parties and making hors'doeuvres for friends. He later went to culinary school and worked at various restaurants before moving to Los Angeles where he currently runs a culinary program for high school students. Smith, 28, is also a finalist on"Food Network's Next Star" which returns June 6th. As preparations for the finale roll around Chef Darrell took some time to share his favorite Memorial Day party tips and recipes with ESSENCE.com. ESSENCE.com: What made you want to become "Food Network's Next Star"? DARRELL "DAS" SMITH:
I've done a lot of things in my career and television was one thing that I've always wanted to do but I haven't tapped into yet. This was a great way to showcase my cooking skills and my personality. I went for a casting call and the rest is history. ESSENCE.com: Has cooking always been a part of your life? SMITH:
I've always been in the kitchen, whether it was with my grandfather or mother. As a kid I can remember going back to Arkansas and having pig roast with the whole pig and the spit and the apple. As a little kid that was frightening but I can appreciate it now. I fell in love with food when I was 19 and attending college. I used to throw parties and make little hors'doeuvres and when I got a response from it I decided to take it to the next level. ESSENCE.com: How do you describe your cuisine? SMITH:
It's new-style American cuisine. I'm all about putting a twist on new dishes by also focusing on presentation and colors. I'm a true believer that you eat with your eyes so the dish has to look good before you can even taste it. TIPS FOR GETTING THE PARTY STARTED:
- To get the crowd involved, make a Jello shot. It's not a strong alcoholic beverage but it's something to loosen up the mood a little. You make it by mixing in a bit of Vodka instead of hot water when you're making the Jello. Make it in individual cups so it's easy to get out.
- Gas grills are always great for convenience but to get that real barbecue flavor I'm all about old-school charcoal grills to really get that smell.
- Choose half charcoal and half hickory-smoked wood chips and that way you taste that good hickory flavor in your meat.
- Make sure your grill is really hot before you put any meat on it. Find your hot and your cold spots on the grill -- the middle is going to be your hottest spot and the outside will be cooler. So for instance, if you have a medium steak, you want to put it on the fire and let it cook up until it has grill parts. Once you get in that medium rare you want to put it in the cooler part and let it cook out slowly.
BLOOD ORANGE WHITE SANGRIA 3 bottles (750ml each) Pinot Grigio, chilled 1 1/2 cup Brandy 3/4 cup Triple Sec 2 oranges, thinly sliced 2 blood oranges, thinly sliced 1 lime, thinly sliced 1/2 cup sugar Ice Cubes
- Take a little rice wine vinegar, a little olive oil and red chilli paste and a little yellow mustard. Mix it all together and add a little honey, salt and pepper. Take your meat, poke your wholes in it and get a good puncture in your meat. Pour the marinade over it and let it sit for however long you want, but remember, the longer, the more flavor.
In a large pitcher, combine the wine, brandy and orange liqueur. Pour in the sugar and stir to mix all the ingredients. Add all the citrus slices at once. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the citrus flavors to pop. Serve over ice, if desired. TERIYAKI CHICKEN KABOBS 2, 8 oz Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast 1 Green Bell Pepper 1 Red Bell Pepper 1 Yellow Onion 1 pack Cherry Tomatoes 1 pack 6 inch wooden skewers 1 tsp Salt 1 tsp Black Pepper Kikoman Teriyaki Sauce
Dice chicken and vegetables (peppers and onions) into medium-sized cuts. Assemble chicken and vegetables onto skewers in chicken-veggie-chicken-veggie format. Finish each skewer with 1 cherry tomato. Season kabob with salt and pepper. Sear kabobs on flattop grill over medium heat, three minutes each side or until golden brown color. Finish kabobs in preheated 350 degree oven until chicken juice runs clear (no longer than 12 minutes). Drizzle Teriyaki Sauce on kabobs. Catch Chef Darrell 'Das" Smith on Season 6 of Food Network's Next Star, which returns June 6th on the Food Network. For more Memorial Day and entertaining tips, click here.