Chef Alexander Smalls is the visionary of the award-winning restaurant The Cecil and its sister restaurant Minton’s, serving as its co-owner and Executive Chef. The Cecil, NYC’s first Afro-Asian-American restaurant, was named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire magazine in 2014. He has received great acclaim in the New York City restaurant scene, including cooking at the James Beard House, being named one of Zagat’s “19 NYC Restaurant Power Players You Need to Know” and being honored with the Legacy Award in 2014 by The Amsterdam News, one of the oldest African American newspapers in the country. Alexander is also a world-renowned opera singer and the winner of both a Grammy Award and a Tony Award for the cast recording of Porgy and Bess, by George Gershwin, with the Houston Grand Opera. Passionate about his involvement with non-profit organizations, he is on the Advisory Board of The Union Food Lab at Columbia University, and through his restaurants, he is involved in C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program). Alexander is also a former board member and Artistic Director of Opus 118 at the Harlem School of Music.
1. What’s your regular comfort meal?
Hotdogs – especially when they’re topped with chili, cheese and slaw.
2. Tell us about one Kitchen Disaster story.
Over marinated shrimp in bourbon which turned into this odd Barbecue shrimp paste on toasted biscuits…nobody got hurt!!!
3. Do you have any kitchen battle scars?
4. If your last day was tomorrow, what would be your last meal?
If I wasn’t a Chef, I would be a rich man(!) because I would have endless opportunities to explore, learn, and do what I love.
7. After a long work day, what do you do to decompress?
8. What do you wish you had more time to do?
Write and travel.
9. Besides cooking, do you have any other talents.
I write and am a singer!
(*Chef’s Roll Note: Chef Alexander Smalls is a talented opera singer who has received a Grammy and Tony Award. He is also a former board member and Artistic Director of Opus 118 at the Harlem School of Music.)
10. What is your culinary “best case” scenario?
Create culinary concepts for the world…feed the children.