Daniel Thomas has fed some of today’s most powerful appetites. From President Obama and his family to Hilary Clinton and Bruno Mars and crew, the twenty-something celebrity chef has an exclusive client list that grows more impressive each year.
Who is Daniel Thomas?
Daniel grew up in Southeast Washington, DC and holds a degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America.
“I have been cooking since I was 3 years old,” says Daniel. “I used to cook in the kitchen of my dad’s church. The ladies of the church would take me downstairs, sit me on a stool and talk to me as if I were a chef. They’d say ‘you have to cook with your hands, Daniel. You have to be able to touch the food and the spices. You have to have a passion for it’.”
“In sixth grade I wrote in one of those free writing exercise journals that when I grow up I will serve the president. I had no idea that one day, I’d actually get to do that.”
Daniel’s trajectory into one of the most coveted honors for any chef began humbly enough. In high school he used to walk around Washington, DC every weekend and hand out hundreds of resumes a day at local restaurants and hotels. Some days he’d walk up to 20 miles.
His big break came when a parent at his high school asked if he would help cook for some of her dinner parties and assist the catering company she hires. It turned out the head chef for the catering company was Ben Branch– the house manager and private chef for Colin Powell.
“That’s the moment my business started,” says Daniel. “Mr. Branch asked me to work with him on some of his other projects and then made me his assistant chef. He asked me to subcontract for him and create my own business. I was 17.”
“It’s that serious,” says Chef Daniel Thomas on his attention to detail while creating a plate.
“My first big gig after college came when I was asked to be one of the chefs for the Kennedy Center Honors Awards Program. I then did stints at the National Museums in DC and House of Representatives. Finally, I was offered a job at the U.S. Capitol in the executive dining room—the second most prestigious dining room in the world.”
“When I took the position as a head chef, Barack Obama had just been elected President of the United States. I had the honor of serving the President, Vice President, and their families at the Inaugural Brunch.”
On Cooking for the Rich and Powerful
“Money is not everything. What matters most is where you are sitting at the dinner table. I think the best thing I’ve made for the president is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
In the DC area and want to meet Chef Daniel? He’ll be hosting a free cooking demonstration at the 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival on Saturday August 30, 2014 at the Washington Convention Center 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW Washington, DC 20001 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm. RSVP by emailing [email protected] with the number of guests you will be bringing by August 20, 2014.