As we continue our series of highlighting our instructors, students, and alumni by telling their stories of successes, aspirations, and inspiration, we sat down with Tarrell Demps, a graduate from The Culinary School of Fort Worth in August 2020.
CSFTW: What initially interested you about the culinary arts, and what made you want to come to The Culinary School of Fort Worth?
Tarrell: When I was a young kid, around 8-years-old, I used to sit around my grandmother and watch her cook. She kind of started showing me the ropes on everything, and she told me that I wasn’t close to having a wife, so I better come learn from her. *laughs* So, I took on that, and then I decided to come to CSFTW because I wanted to expand my knowledge of cooking beyond what I knew already. The school really helped me out a lot.
What kind of cooking did you do with your grandmother?
Traditional soul food, mostly. She used to cook so much. Sweet potato pies, collard greens, chicken, basically everything. She was actually the first person I ever saw make bread from scratch with no recipe. Now everyone is doing it, but she was the first I’d ever seen do it.
Besides your grandma, who are some of your other inspirations in the kitchen?
My mom; she was a cook as well. One of my favorite people on TV has always been Bobby Flay. I love watching all of his shows. I actually know someone that beat Bobby Flay. He’s got a restaurant out here called Pangea in Plano.
Where are you working now?
I’m doing my own thing. I’m doing meal prepping right now. My plan is to open up a restaurant some time next year. It’ll be a fried chicken joint, but I’m just doing meal prepping in the present. I’m actually doing healthy cooking right now with the meal prepping, so it’ll be different from my fried chicken place.
What is it like working for yourself? How did you get started doing that?
When I started culinary, I always wanted to do my own thing because the schedules that they have at restaurants were different than what I wanted. Working for myself is nerve wracking sometimes trying to come up with your own things, but you know, it all works out in the end. My wife is a huge helper for me in the kitchen. She makes it really easy for me.
What’s your process for putting together the menus?
It’s basically customer input. They will tell me what they like, and then I’ll come up with the full menu after that.
What are some skills that you learned at the school that you’re using in your meal prepping right now?
For one, definitely my knife skills. Portion control is also a very important one. I think sanitation is probably the most important, though. Being sanitary with all that I do in the kitchen was something the school definitely taught me well.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about coming to CSFTW?
I would tell them that going to The Culinary School of Fort Worth would be a great move to help enhance their skills. If you don’t have any skills, they’re going to teach you a lot. It taught me so much. I even learned how to scramble eggs correctly! *laughs* If it’s your dream to get into the culinary arts, then go to The Culinary School of Fort Worth. I’m glad I did it.