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Life & Work with Chef Danni

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chef Danni.

Chef Danni is from Montgomery, AL. Her passion for culinary arts grew while attending college at the historical black institution, Alabama A&M University. Danni would use cooking as an outlet to deal with the woes of college life. Peers often expressed how she should take her passion to the next level and pursue culinary school. With two suitcases and a dream, Chef Danni moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career as a professional chef. Chef Danni attended the Art Institute of Hollywood, where she received her culinary arts degree. Chef Danni owes most of her culinary success to her Alabama roots and family recipes curated by her grandmother and mother.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The hardest part about starting this journey was not giving up. Telling myself constantly that this opportunity would pay off in the end and that my time to showcase all of my skills behind the love and passion I have for culinary arts was coming. When I first started my culinary journey, I was living in LA, and of course everyone knows LA is extremely expensive. Some people don’t realize that I was working at restaurants full-time as a server along with catering events during my off days just to get my name out there and in the right circles. Then, one day I got my first call, my first celebrity client and the rest is history. I would like to pass along these gems to the next generation of up and coming chefs: – Don’t undercharge. Always charge your worth. – Get liability insurance. – Apply for an LLC; and keep your receipts for tax purposes. – Don’t compare your success to other’s success. – Trust the process. If somebody would’ve shared these five simple tips with me when I was starting out, it would’ve made my life so much easier. Through trial and error, I learned all of these things but want to be sure to share this with the next generation.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My inspiration for becoming a chef came from my grandmother. Growing up down south to avoid going outside to play with my other cousins because it was so hot in Alabama, I stayed inside with my grandma mostly watching her cook. I decided to take cooking more seriously after college after doing my research on the private chef industry and the endless opportunities that this career could and would present. I always try to cook with love. It never fails me. This has been my key to success so far and whatever I cook, my clients typically love. Additionally, I try to pick my client’s brain to see what their favorite dishes are and once they let me know, I will remake that dish with my own flair. One piece of exciting information to note: Chef Danni is currently working on releasing her first cookbook called “Expensive Taste”. This book is an ode to some of her celebrity clients and some of their favorite dishes. She plans on releasing merchandise and seasoning blends shortly after her book release. Her hope with this cookbook is to hopefully bring back the art of cooking and family time through cooking. The world is moving so fast now and most individuals and families do not have time for the simple things anymore like home-cooked meals with your family. Especially during these unprecedented times, she feels like we this for our mental and physical health.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Two things: My client’s health and happiness through my dishes. I am a firm believer in the quote, “Faith without works is dead.” This quote always lives rent-free in my head. Why? Because you can imagine anything in your mind and see the vision clear as day; but until you put the work into it; it will never happen. I constantly push myself through this quote especially when it feels like I’m slacking or procrastinating. Hard work and passion give me the opportunity to prepare meaningful dishes for my clients. Another thing that matters most to me is feeding the homeless. I want to spark and inspire a movement. The “Dime A Dozen” challenge – you would save your dimes from loose change to buy breakfast for a homeless person. This is my opportunity to give back and to spark change around the nation encouraging folks to feed the homeless and children in need.

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