Living in a part of Texas known as the “Golden Triangle,” where traditionally Cajun foods such as gumbo, boudin, étouffée and crawfish boils are the norms for local cuisine; it’s no surprise that Chef Ken Patrick grew up knowing that he wanted to be a chef. Having the invaluable opportunity to grow up in Beaumont’s diverse and rich food culture provided him with a unique exposure to all types of cuisine at an early age. Much of his youth, he spent countless hours in this mother’s kitchen watching her cook and share her love of food with others.
Chef Patrick realized what an important role the culinary arts would play in his life and at age 16 was introduced to the world of grilling and fell in love. As a teenager he worked for a local barbecue restaurant where he would watch and mimic the chefs by creating his own rendition of rubs and sauces by mixing ingredients from his own food pantry.
Unable to attend culinary school, Chef Patrick did not let that discourage him from having a successful career in the food industry. In his tireless pursuit to perfect and share his cuisine with others; he worked for hotels, restaurants and catering businesses. The self-taught chef used every opportunity available to him to develop his craft and has become a valuable mentor, speaker, advisor and very positive influence in both his community and hometown.
It’s pretty safe to surmise that even Chef Patrick may not have been able to envision the depth of his success growing up in a small town in Southeastern Texas. Today, he performs live cooking demonstrations before hundreds of fans, speaks on topics such as entrepreneurship and mentoring and shares the importance of realizing one’s dreams. He has been featured on The Travel Channel’s “Fiery Foods Challenge” and is The Food Network’s season 5 winner of “Guy’s Grocery Games.” Among his many accolades he’s been bestowed with the title of “celebrity chef” and has hosted events and competitions including Steve Harvey’s Mentoring Program in Dallas, Texas, The Tom Joyner Cruise, “Battle of the Chefs,” Okra Palooza Dallas and Bacon Bash Texas.
Chef Patrick’s passion for food does not stop at the plate, because of his extensive background in Medical and Nutritional Therapy, he has become a sought after chef and advisor for many government and national organizations such as the U.S. Military, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Education, American Heart Association, National Kidney Foundation, March of Dimes, U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Food and Drug Administration and Law Enforcement Agencies. He has received national recognition from the White House and is an ambassador of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Campaign” and “Chefs Move to Schools Program”, where he educates school faculty, students and parents on the importance of implementing healthier food habits for their children.
As the successful proprietor of Ken Patrick Culinary Group, Chef Patrick’s busy career is consistently evolving. Although, he doesn’t have a lot of down time, when he does, he’s in the kitchen with his son cooking up secret family recipes. There just may be a budding chef in the midst!
Where are you originally from and how long have you been in Dallas? I’m from Beaumont, Texas baby! I’ve been in Dallas since 2008. Dallas is my kitchen.
What inspired you to become a chef? I draw my inspiration directly from my mother. It all began with her because she taught me how to respect cooking and to really appreciate good food & where it came from. As a kid, I watched her put her heart & soul into her pots. She was Creole & an amazing cook. I can still smell her food.
What do you think has influenced your cuisine the most? As a Beaumont native, I’ve always been inspired by the great cooks in my family. My mother, great aunts, uncles & grandparents. Growing up in a city that farms rice and having a father who raised livestock, hunted, fished & grew his own vegetables taught me “farm to table” as they call it today. This is how my ancestors lived, & I’m working hard to preserve it.
How would you classify your cuisine? Southwestern-Soul. I know, you’re like what? Trust me, it’s a beautiful thing.
What do you think your biggest challenge has been in your culinary career? For me, probably making a name for myself in this industry. I couldn’t afford to attend culinary school & I don’t come from a traditional restaurant background. Therefore, I didn’t have those as an outlet for me to be creative as I wanted to be. I actually worked in the healthcare industry for over 15 years. Simultaneously, I worked hard to build my own brand to become the chef I’m known as today. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. I’m proud of my accomplishments & I have no regrets.
How do you think Dallas’ culinary scene is different from other places? The food scene in Dallas has a vast combination of menus & that appeal to a wide margin of diners. Whether you’re a fan of a favorite restaurant chef, caterer, or private chef, you’ll most likely be able to find the cuisine you’re craving. Everyone seems to be keeping up with the latest food trends, & this keeps our Dallas diners excited.
How would you classify Texas Cuisine? Big and bold. Texas is a big state, and has a wide range of cultural influences. The Tex-Mex, the Texas barbecue, burgers, fajitas, chuck wagon cooking, chiles, etc. Everything IS BIGGER in Texas!
Do you have any mentors and if so; who are they and what did you take away from them? I’ve never had any mentors, however I’ve become mentor myself. It’s very personal for me to be able to give someone else the guidance they need to find their potential & hopefully be a role model for them. Especially our young people. They need it today more than I did yesterday.
If you were not a chef what would you be doing? I’d probably be a police officer, or in some capacity of law enforcement.
Last day on Earth what city would you be in? Beaumont, Texas! You already know! Eating crawfish and barbecue!
What would be your last meal? My mother’s Seafood Gumbo. Nobody made it like her.
Sommelier or Mixologist? Mixologist.
Favorite cocktail? Mojito.
What’s your signature dish? Or is there one dish that sums up your culinary career? Spice Rubbed Ribeye with Ancho-Bourbon Sauce.
What ingredient do you most dislike cooking with? Artichokes.
Having been on reality TV, how do you think that has helped or harmed your career? I competed on Food Network’s Guys Grocery Games and won! It increased my fan base & solidified my name in the industry, which has presented me with greater opportunities & I’m very grateful for it.
Where does your inspiration come from? My inspiration comes from my success. I wouldn’t be where I am today without hard work and determination. I learned this as a kid and never gave up.
How do you think the glamorization chefs have changed the industry as a whole? Chefs are the new celebrity. We’re the rock stars of our cities and television has help expand our profession & are opening doors to chefs of all races & genders. If you’re given an opportunity to compete on a national stage, by all means do so. Just don’t lose yourself and forget your core role: To serve others.
Working on any new projects? Future plans? I’m constantly working on expanding my brand. I have some cool merchandise & cookware coming along with my signature sauces & marinades to add to my new spice rub collection. I’m also looking to open an urban garden and cooking school for kids & my own Food Life with Chef Ken Scholarship Foundation.
Tell me about your new line of signature spice rubs? Yes! I always get excited when people ask me this! I’ve created six unique spice rubs that all you have to do is literally, “JUST RUB IT ON” anything you enjoy cooking, roasting or grilling. They’re all influenced from different times in my life & by my cooking with flavor profiles from all over. People are busy & want to be able to prepare quick meals with big flavors, and my spice rubs are giving them that opportunity without marinating things for hours. Throughout my career, I’ve had many people ask me how to make their foods taste better, faster. This was my influence for creating these. If you’d like to order yours, just send an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org & we’ll get them shipped directly to you!
Who is on your bucket list to experience your cuisine? I’d love to go cook in the White House kitchen for our president & first lady!
Do you work with any non-profits or benefits? I’ve been working with non-profits and charitable organizations for years. This has been great way for me to use my influence to increase awareness and raise money for great causes, especially for disadvantaged children. They need all the support they can get.
What’s a kitchen gadget/tool that you couldn’t live without? My knives & my spice grinder!
What are your thoughts on food critics? They’re everywhere. I believe everyone is a food critic to some degree, and that’s OK. Just keep putting out great food & remain focused on your passion. You’re never going to please everybody, but never stop trying.
What’s your favorite comfort food? Shrimp & Grits!
Farm to table or burger joint? Farm to Table, but who doesn’t like a good burger with a cold beer? Just saying.
What do you think are some unique ways that chefs can brand themselves better? Don’t limit yourself to the kitchen. Figure out a way you can extend yourself and touch people in other places. In their homes-the ones who can’t come to your restaurant because they live in another state or country. Whether it’s providing to them your products, cooking videos etc. Use social media. It’s a great tool to market yourself.
What advice would you give to young aspiring chefs? Work hard & never give up on what you really want to do. Take advantage of every opportunity given to you, whether you think it’s too small for you or not. It’s all the small opportunities that are going to lead you to a bigger destination. This is when the unimaginable becomes possible!
Beaumont, TX where you are from has a lot of Cajun influences, how would you describe Cajun food to someone that never experienced it? Cajun cuisine is French inspired with influences from other early Louisiana settlers. The cuisine has evolved as we commonly refer to it today as Creole-a more refined approach. Cajun food is more rustic. Think of Cajun food as being more “country” and Creole as being more “city” They’re both delicious! Talk about good!
Anymore plans for TV? I’ll be appearing on another national TV show soon & I can’t wait to share the details with my fans!
You studied nutritional therapy, how do you think it has evolved since you studied it? Medical & nutritional therapy continues to evolve because of how foods are changing and being processed. This changes the way our bodies react to certain foods as we consume them. It was an eye opener for me and now I’m armed with this knowledge to better serve my clients who may be on a special diet or have certain dietary restrictions.