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Interview: Medalist Dawn Burrell launches Culinary Vision

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If you are a true sports enthusiast, you will know that the Burrell family name is synonymous with track and field. After traveling the globe competing as a world class athlete, Dawn Burrell has traded in her spikes for an apron and a chef’s hat, whipping up ‘simply delicious’ culinary delights for her business, under the same surname. She launched Chef Dawn Burrell Catering in 2010…and the rest is cuisine history! I recently sat down to briefly chat with her about how she translates her passion for travel into delectable, fresh and organic dishes with an ‘international flare.’

So, I read that you apprenticed under some great chefs in your journey to become a master chef. Tell me about that experience.

“Well, I worked at Sparrow Bar + Cook Shop next to the Breakfast Klub in downtown Houston for about a year and a half under Chef Monica Pope. I created a lot of stuff out of her kitchen. I was there until July and now I have my own rented space. I liked it and learned a lot from the experience. It was not an apprenticeship [per se]; I was just responsible for getting creative things on the menu [as well as] kitchen management. Now that [the] relationship has ended... it’s time for me to move on to my own space.”

When did you first realize that you have a gift for cooking? Was this talent cultivated in the Burrell family growing up?

“It wasn’t until I stopped competing in track and field that I realized what I really loved to do – which is to cook. [It wasn’t really from my family]; I mean [many members] of my family love to create using food but I don’t think I really paid attention to it [growing up].”

How has your athletic background prepared you for entrepreneurship? Any experiences that you have pulled from directly to jump start this venture?

“It hasn’t really [prepared me] – other than me being really focused and driven. It helps me to make my vision happen, but everything else is sought out, like the business aspect of it. I am more creative-minded.”

Describe the process you embark upon to create a new dish.

“I am inspired by ingredients – based on what is available locally and sustainable here, created out of [what I find] at the Farmer’s Market. I don’t really have a favorite dish really. I love all comfort food. My concept is ‘global comfort’ – all the warm and comfy food from all over the world. I have been inspired by all the places I have traveled to.”

So – I know you regularly host these ‘foodie’ events. When is your next event?

“Yes, I host these wine dinners – dining events where people can come, eat, and mingle with new people. I just want to get people together and feed them good food. I recently hosted an event a few weeks ago at The Flat on Commonwealth. I hope that people love my food so much that [possibly] a restaurant concept can be birthed. Perhaps in the up-and–coming North Main Street area, or even Midtown – which is always good.”

To keep up with Dawn and her events, follow her on Facebook. Dawn currently lives in the Southwest area of Houston, and has been featured in the upcoming issue of Houston Modern Luxury.

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