Mondale A. Smith has the best chef’s job in the world. His charismatic style and food preparation techniques are his modus operandi that attract many Guyanese to wherever he is cooking a good meal.
Smith, owner of Chef Mondale’s Kitchen, who shot to fame more than five years ago after he started cooking from his home in Princess Street Worthmanville and posting on social media, laid out one of his better selling dishes for this reporter during a recent interview at his new 189 Church St. location in the capital city, Georgetown.
He shared his delicious Essequibo Rice special. The staple, cooked with raisins and coconut milk, was served with fillet fish, and a side of sautéed bora and carrot veggie, paired with Mauby drink.
Smith, an iconic media personality and popular emcee, through his cooking, pays tribute to the Essequibo farming region, where his produce comes from. “We are self reliant in producing enough from this area,” he shared.
The menu features curried crab, baked fish in coconut milk and cheese sauce, fried fish, baked chicken in honey mustard sauce, three beans rice, shine rice with dried shrimps, veggie shine rice, stir fried vegetables, chicken foot souse, white pudding, seafood platter, barbeque and vegetarian entrees, desserts, and local fruit drinks. Delicious options that keep foodies flocking to Chef Mondale’s Kitchen.
Noting that he serves creole cuisine, catering to everyone seeking quality, healthy Guyanese cooking, Chef Mondale’s Carte du jour is also influenced by his travels beyond the Atlantic.
He has experienced the lifestyles of the people of Ghana, and the authentic way they use local produce to create delicious dishes.
While also living Suriname, St. Maartin, and Venezuela, the chef immersed himself in these cultures, and incorporates their style of cooking to bring healthy, flavorful fare to his restaurant.
The chef who operates his restaurant, while following all safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic, said he loves cooking.
“Cooking is my therapy” said the multi-talented individual, who finds solace in food preparation, whenever he become frustrated and needs a break from his news broadcast.
“Cooking is a family trait. It started with my late mother, and my sisters who are talented cooks. I had asked my mother before she passed away, why she cooked so much food, she replied, ‘when you cook, people will come, or you would have food for later.’”
“I started cooking from the age of nine by accident. My father went to work leaving my siblings and me at home, and when we became hungry, no one was willing to turn on the stove except me. So I decided to cook porridge,” he explained.
According to him, it didn’t go quite well, and when his parent returned home and heard he had lit the stove, he was fearful of being punished.
Instead, he said, “Son, if you are going to do something, do it properly. I don’t approve of you turning on the stove, but what I approve of, is that you were thinking how you could feed those in the house,” before giving him a tutorial.
Out of bad came good, said Chef Mondale, recalling how his grandmother later taught him how to prepare meals for his household.
This didn’t sit too well in the beginning for a youngster who was keener on the Boys Scouts, and attending church. But with a bit of intimidation, like having a knife thrown at him that thankfully got stuck in the wall, he got the message, and adhered to his grandmother’s demands.
These stirring memories prepared him for the future. Like, adapting to the subject of home economics in high school. This helped him to develop good cooking and decorating skills, and brought him full circle.
His produce shopping and cooking blog went viral. This inspired Smith to create an online restaurant that took off, and created employment for 10 persons in the process.
The success of Chef Mondale’s Kitchen is a fitting example of hard work and determination. He gives back to the community through several outreach programs, more so, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He is passionate about cooking, but will continue to tell stories, and entertain audiences via his broadcasts.