Meet the Chefs
Meet Executive Chef Allen
Executive Chef Allen has been working in food service his entire life. His first job was making pizzas in a gas station at just 16-years old. We are happy to report his skills in the kitchen have come a long way since then. But he still credits his grandmother for igniting his love for cooking. She taught him how to make an amazing cheeseburger and fries (plus many other dishes) when he was only eight!
Today, Executive Chef Allen would define his cooking style as “outside-the-box.” Coming up with healthy, flavorful meals for students often leads him to try out new ideas on old “southern-style” favorites. And, some of those new twists include giving it a Latin flair.
Executive Chef Allen uses a lot of tortillas, fresh herbs, citrus, and peppers in his recipes…. and is always finding ways to squeeze a lime or sprinkle cilantro into a dish. His favorite meals to make are any kind of “one-pot wonder” – like gumbo and jambalaya, where you build the whole dish up from scratch. He’s also a big fan of curing meats and making his own sausage. But no matter what he is making, it’s guaranteed to be made with fresh ingredients and delicious.
In his free time, he cheers on Mississippi State University at numerous sporting events with his family and friends. He also admittedly plays way too many video games for an almost 50-year-old man, but hey, you like what you like!
Meet Chef Kevin
Chef Kevin has been working in the food industry for over 20 years. His first role in the kitchen was at age 16 when he worked as a dish position for a diner in New Jersey. From there, he continued learning about his passion for food by studying Hotel/Restaurant Management in college. Today, it’s his love for mixing new flavors and ingredients (along with his ability to knock it out of the park when he’s getting slammed with orders) that make him a standout chef in GKM kitchens.
Some of the go-to flavors Chef Kevin uses include ground mustard, fresh cilantro, lime, and hot sauce. However, the one ingredient he’s never without is garlic. He wouldn’t tell us, but we’re pretty sure garlic is also one of the secret ingredients found in his “special” Baked Mac & Cheese – a recipe his grandma shared with him years ago. This raved-about dish is also 100% proof that he’s come a long way since his first Thanksgiving turkey. (He overcooked it to the point it literally blew up like in the movie Christmas Vacation.)
When he’s not hard at work in our GKM kitchens, Chef Kevin can usually be found whipping up new creations for his “taste-testers” and perfecting recipes based on their feedback. It’s a loud, fun, yet completely organized process… or so he says. Chef Kevin also enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, and taking walks with his dog, Biscuit.
Meet Chef Derek
Chef Derek got his start in the kitchen at an early age. The only thing he ever wanted to be was a chef! He was constantly cooking for his parents, making scrambled eggs and boxed pancakes. As soon as he was able, Chef Derek joined the 2-year culinary program at HB Ward Boces. It wasn’t long before his talent and hard work paid off. He quickly honed his knife skills, moved up to prep, then on to grill and line. After earning his degree from Boces, he started working multiple jobs to learn everything he could about the food industry. And, he did it all from butcher to fish market manager to restaurant management!
In the kitchen, Chef Derek loves to experiment with techniques and bring new twists and flavors to the menus he creates, like sushi and Asian fusion. With five kids at home, he found becoming a chef for GKM to be the perfect fit for him because it combines his two greatest passions which are family and cooking! It also makes him an expert on knowing how to create meals that kids are actually excited to eat! He’s also great at listening to students’ opinions and creating menus that involve more than opening up a freezer and oven.
Because at the end of the day, Chef Derek’s greatest joy comes from knowing he is helping feed the minds of our youth and inspiring them with a love for healthy, flavorful food that will be passed down for generations.
Meet Chef Matt
Matt fell in love with cooking while growing up on his Grandmother’s small farm. He learned the importance of fresh ingredients digging for potatoes, harvesting eggs, foraging for berries and picking peaches for ice cream as a child. Chef Matt has more than 25 years experience in the restaurant industry and has been head chef at many notable restaurants before joining the GKM team. Cheff Matt loves experimenting with authentic, Ethnic flavors and ingredients and lists “fats and acids” as his favorite elements to work with. Matt describes his kitchen as focused and serious, yet fun which makes sense as his favorite part about being a chef is “making people happy.” When Matt is not in the kitchen, you can find him outdoors – walking his dog in the woods.