The Uncaged Chef: From the Soul, For the Soul
When you hear the term “soul food,” what do you think about?
The odds are, you think of comfort food with Southern roots. But soul food is much more than this, especially if you consider the idea that it’s simply food that comes from one’s soul.
One Washington DC area chef is revolutionizing not only what soul food can be, but what a combination of cuisines done in creative ways can be.
And DC residents, along with customers from all over the country and even the world, are taking notice.
It’s incredible what can happen when a man who cooks from his soul, without limits, is given the opportunity.
Chef Damian Brown, a Capitol Heights, Maryland native, boasts over 13 years of culinary experience and is the proud owner of an innovative eatery: The Uncaged Chefs based in nearby Prince George’s County, Maryland.
I’ll save you a Google search; the first picture on their homepage is an absolutely incredible-looking dish consisting of fried ch on on a French toast waffle with “Henny [Hennessy]a drip icing,” which looks even better than it sounds.
Chef Damian began his journey to Uncaged Chef’s fame as a corporate chef. Brown worked at several fine dining kitchens including the Blue Duck Tavern, Fiola Mare, Occidental, and Vidalia and served as a private chef for celebrities such as NBA players as well as rappers and producers. He began posting his creations on social media, and eventually grew to several hundred thousand followers. In the midst of the online success, money became tight, and Damian risked everything by spending his last $500 to open his restaurant, The Uncaged Chefs. The rest is history.
Brown sees his own culinary repertoire in a decidedly different fashion. His food boasts American Southern and Caribbean influences, but he enjoys bringing a twist to traditional soul food such as adding candy bars to desserts, or Hennessy to his chicken (see the picture above).
Chef Damian’s culinary story begins with childhood lessons learned from his grandfather. As the oldest of five children, Brown learned to cook at a young age as he was depended upon for cooking family meals.
During visits with his great-grandfather, he studied cookbooks and made twists on recipes, a prelude to his future creativity. He knew he wanted to be unique as a chef and not bound to a particular style, hence the name of his brand, “Uncaged Chefs.” He refers to his cooking style as being uncaged and thus free to create anything he wants to create.
Chef Damian has a simple motto: “No Rules, Just Good Food.” And, he lives it well. His reputation and rule-bending menu manifest in consistently around-the-block lines and consistent positive reviews.
Entrepreneurship is the great equalizer, and Chef Damian has been able to transcend barriers and stereotypes to bring his own culinary brand to the world as a prominent Black chef in the Washington D.C. area, not to mention as one of the best chefs in America, period.
Food is likewise one of the great equalizers of a sometimes-backwards society, and Chef Damian built a nationally recognized brand simply by posting pictures of his wildly inventive and wildly delicious recipes. Food has a unique power to bring people together regardless of their walk of life or background, and Chef Damian’s risk-taking and cuisine-bending inventions have already received national acclaim from a variety of publications.
His thoughts on the future of the food industry? “I believe the future of the food industry will be more take-out focused than fine dining and sit-down.”
We’re sure Chef Damian will have no problem adjusting. It’s all about the food, anyway, and he’s just fine keeping it uncaged.
Learn more about Chef Damian and The Uncaged Chefs at www.Theuncagedchefs.com and follow Damian and his restaurant on Instagram @kissthech3f and @theuncagedchefs