Emerging from the city of Atlanta, Chef Aleem has began to take his reign as celebrity chef of the year. From owning a popular restaurant to touring domestically and internationally with Grammy artist 2Chainz, Aleem has proven that there’s more to the art of culinary than just 1, 2, 3 recipes. We sit down with Chef Aleem to pick his brain on what makes him “different” and able to walk amongst the stars.
BM: Chef Aleem, is great to finally catch up with you. We’ve seen your work and watched your progress, how did you break into the culinary entertainment industry?
CA: I owned a restaurant in College Park, GA that catered to individuals from all walks of life, judges, entertainers, the working man, etc., I’d say hardwork, dedication, humility, personality, and people who appreciated your skill was how I was able to make it. Simply being myself.
BM: That’s beyond respectable. How did you link up with 2Chainz?
CA: He was a regular patron of my resturant. He always joked that when he made it, that I would go out on tour with him, to keep him right and that’s exactly what happened. Again surrounding yourself around the right people will put you in the right places. People who respect your lane, will respect you. Being yourself, being true to you, will shine through no matter what.
BM: That’s what’s up. So do you prefer the tour life or the resturant business?
CA: They both have their ups and down. The resturant business you have longer hours in a kitchen, more people to serve, and a fast paced enviroment which I like. You also meet a lot of people, you build strong supporters and clientele, and you’re stationed in one spot. The tour life, you’re on a tour bus for most of the year, you’re not at home, you’re sharing small quarters, and the list goes on. But you get to see the world, the experience is life changing, you also serve a smaller amount of people, all the shows, the parties, and you meet other celebrity level individuals, which its great too. So it’s 50/50 sometimes you want that and sometimes you want this, but I wouldn’t trade either experience for the world. I’m truly blessed.
BM: True. Being a chef, would you let someone else cook for you?
CA: Of course. I started off with someone cooking for me. Even though I am certified in this field, I learned a lot of my cooking skills from my mother. So yes of course, why not. Chef’s need a break too. (laughs)
BM: (laughs) Do you do the cooking when you’re at home?
CA: Primarily, but my kids are pretty independent in the kitchen, now.
BM: Definitely. You’ve taught them well I’m sure. Super Dad. If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
CA: What if’s huh…Maybe a designer of women’s shoes. A pair of shoes can change a womans whole aura. Or maybe I’d dabble in music producing, I dont know, but I do know, I love what I do. I stay in my lane, you succeed better that way. (laughs)
BM: So True… but a woman’s shoe designer, now that’s different! Speaking of women, what would you prepare for a special lady? What’s a sexy recipe?
CA: I’d have to say stick to her favorites. Figure out what she likes, either by asking her or watching her behaviors…what she orders when you’re out or what she cooks at home. Never attempt to read a persons mind. What if their allergic to somethiing. The best thing is to ask or learn. Then set the mood of course…candles, wine or whatever you need to add to the night.
BM: Agree, better play it safe than sorry. What is a common dish you’d prepare for a client, such as 2 Chains?
CA: Again you ask or learn what they like, be observant. He’s not a fan of red meat or pork, and he has a sensitive stomach so I don’t prepare those types of dishes. Maybe lamb here or there but no pork or beef. There really isn’t a specific dish, I try to introduce him to new things. I test out dishes, let him taste them, see what he thinks. Over time you learn. Simple trial and error.
BM: Speaking of errors? What was your worst kitchen disaster?
CA: (laughs) hmm…I’d have to say at the beginning stages of my restaurant career, in a commercial kitchen, by the hood there’s an ansul (a fire suppression system) which is made to automatically react in the event a fire occurs. What will happen is, if it senses a fire (meaning it gets to hot or smoked out), it will immediately shower out a dry and or wet chemical that will difuse the fire to protect the kitchen and once that goes off there’s no stopping it. I wasn’t buring anything, but I had my fire way too high, and mulitple burners going at that, the ansul detected the heat and it got hotter and hotter; I was so focused I didn’t notice it, but the ansul did, it went off and showered the whole kitchen, I had to shut the resturant down for a couple of days for someone to come clean it out. I lost productivity and profit. I know better now, you live and you learn.
BM: Man that’s crazy. So let the people know what projects you have coming up and how to reach you.
CA: You can definitely follow me on my social media outlets. On instagram @chef_aleem. I just got on Twitter and Facebook, been so busy haven’t had time for it, but it’s 2013 who ain’t on social media. So on Facebook: Aleem Shabazz (ChefAleem) and on Twitter @_kitchenking. My two current projects is WELL DONE. check it out its a sneek peak into my world, you can view it on YouTube at this link http://youtu.be/N9QCtsracB4 and I’ve been working on a mini cookbook with 2Chainz that is scheduled to drop with the deluxe version of his sophomore album #METIME BOATS2 Sept 10, so make sure y’all cop that.
Words By: Tiffany “Kitty” Irene