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Interview of our eco-ambassador Chef Earl

Food is a way of expression. There is no doubt about it for Chef Earl. When it comes to expressing emotions and thoughts, this Baltimore-USA based Chef gives it all in! He shared with us his love for cooking and sharing.

Earl Gray has his own style, his own brand, and strong statements. He gets this passion from food from his grandma who used to make him traditional Liberian dishes like country biscuits, Jollof rice, cassava pie, & deep fried plantains. Revol has been collaborating with Chef Earl for many months now and we are thrilled to have this passionate and high level experienced Chef working with our products!

Genuine love for cooking and sharing, and respect for “What We Do

His 19 years of experience in the culinary industry gave him a very rich background (he worked with celebrity Chefs such as Ming Tsai, he appeared on WUSA 9 Great Day Washington/Chef Earl Gray celebrates national iced tea day, and he also was highlighted in Daniel Seddiqui’s book “50 Jobs in 50 States”). He is constantly working on building loyalty with his followers and customers by providing “superior dining” cuisine.

He is currently Chef at the Renaissance Hotel in Baltimore. But that doesn’t stop him from working on his own publications – he actually has 2 Instagram accounts @Earlthepearl4 for personal and the other @Teatime4.0 for professional/business posts. Chef Earl has also partnered with Truecooks.com (as a team member). It’s a Lifestyle brand and platform meant to unite cooks and chefs from all backgrounds and skill levels in a common cause; a genuine love for cooking and sharing. And respect for “What We Do”. I discussed with Chef Earl about the meaning of being an American Chef, his thoughts on the environment and the future of dining in America.

Smoked Duck Shallots Pearl Onions Pickled mustard Savory Corn & Parsnip puree

Being recognized for one’s efforts

“It’s definitely a challenge to be a Chef” says Earl. Because you must be recognized for your efforts and make sure your work is always valued and perceived by the outside world. Chef Earl has chosen the artistic path with his beautiful plating and true efforts of graphic demonstrations. He gets inspiration from French and Asian cuisine but also includes his personal Southern influence in the food he offers.

He has been working hard to be published and recognized in magazines and food blogs Foodstarz official, Chefsroll, & Baltimore Sun. But it is not an easy task. “You have to remain solid” says Earl, it means a lot of sacrifice. Inspiration also comes from renowned Chefs (Julia Childs, Monica Gelatti, Marcus Waring, Daniel Boulud, & Eric Gestel). “When I envision plating – it all comes from background – get inspiration from the big ones.” Hard and extensive work with other platforms that value Chef’s work such as Truecooks and Spiceology will also lead to recognition and acknowledgment of one’s work.

Speaking up

Originally French trained, Chef Earl is now strongly positioning his food on “ingredient first” cuisine while also giving his interpretation of cuisine as an African American Chef.

He wishes to offer a simple, yet high-end dining experience with an easy to read plate. On another hand, he has a strong commitment to educating and showcasing a different way to dine and eat. To achieve this, and ensure “readability” of you work, “it’s vital to do a good job” says Earl. And doing a good job is also getting the right material and invest in equipment to take good pictures and share them on social media. Chef Earl has shown his capacity of not only being a Chef at a restaurant, but also working on his own “brand”. And making sure his followers, the community of Chefs and the brands who work with him, get valuable content.

Sustainable is working local and seasonal

When talking sustainability, Chef Earl has a straightforward and easy to follow definition: “sustainable is using foods that are in season”. And creating menus accordingly. This is in accordance with his philosophy of using a small quantity of ingredients. That way, you stay connected with farmers, growers, and the environment that surrounds you. And you offer a cuisine that has one clear message.

The ingredient and the product you find, is the one who leads, and motivates your creation. When asking the Chef if he feels ecofriendly conscience is more driven by the individual or by the society, he feels it is a mix of both.

As an example, Marriott, as one of the main leaders in hospitality has developed an ecofriendly program (in-room-dining- eliminating the use of plastic and transitioning to compostable materials such as cutlery kits & packaging) and budget to make the change, they are usually financial limitations. “A lot of Chefs want to do things differently, but they cannot always afford it”. Even, if sometimes, being eco-responsible does not mean implementing costly actions. For example, Earl says he uses “one product in two or three recipes”. The no-waste strategy is a key factor and a way to do great things without impacting the budget. On the contrary, as a Chef, it is also about translating a message and educating the guests. Like banning plastic straws, or (buying reusable shopping bags for the grocery store).

Millions of people need comfort during their time of tribulation

The pandemic has affected everyone: hotels, employees who lose their jobs, the tourist industry, and the hospitality industry in general. Chef Earl can testify about positions being eliminated in the hotel where he works, people losing their job and finding themselves in difficult situations financially and socially. And general budgets going down. His work has also been affected and he has been having a hard time “getting premium ingredients”. Without mentioning all the safety concerns that hotels must apply for their guests that can also be extremely restrictive.

At the hotel, the work of a cook can be limited by all these budget and safety restrictions, so Chef Earl has put even more efforts into the creations he shares on his social media. And his message is strong and clear: “during the pandemic, people are not able to afford a lot of expensive foods, so I wanted to showcase easy recipes of comfort food and show people what they can do with what they have in their refrigerator”.

A lesson of respect

As an example of this commitment and care about people, Chef Earl has shared in his page an extraordinarily strong and caring message. It was in the midst of the pandemic and racial violence that the USA has been experiencing in the last few months. Chef Earl shared this post along with a picture of Chicken Meatball Shawarma served in a NoW plate.

“I can honestly admit that my cooking style has changed drastically. Part of it is due to this current pandemic and racial injustice. We all can see that millions of people need comfort during their time of tribulation. Hence the reason for comfort food. Be more understanding of people’s feelings and viewpoints. Learn how to respect ✊ them. Please do not judge! I remember this song my grandmother told me…

 John 14:26

Oh, spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found,

Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:

The Comforter has come! The Comforter has come, The Comforter has come!

The Holy Ghost from heav’n, The Lord’s dear promise giv’n; Oh, spread the tidings ’round,

Wherever man is found— The Comforter has come!

Chicken Meatball Shawarma

Cook into people’s homes

When talking about the future, (for now at least) the food scene will probably change drastically. “People are cooking home”. The “to go” formula is increasing, with more ecofriendly and paper consumption unfortunately.

But Earl sees this as an opportunity to “go into people’s houses and cook for them”. It might be the rising of private Chefs? Possibly. And Chef Earl is ready! He is up to endeavor the field of private services and build more close relationships with clients. “Interpret people’s thoughts on food”. That is also what he did with Revol in a way. He interpreted his food and cooking style to adapt it to the situation and by sharing the same message that Revol, as a company, wants to convey. Respect for the environment, for people and for ingredients!

About his partnership with Revol USA, Chef Earl says he is “blown away by the love of the partnership. That Revol had enough faith in me”. This respectful relationship is not ready to stop and hopefully when the sanitary conditions improve, we will work hand by hand together on events and live cooking. For the love for cooking and sharing.

See our other interview – LONDONFOODBOY