Chef Donald “Donny” Burnett began cooking as a little boy at the apron strings of his grandmother. His impressive resume spans from heralded restaurants in the Tampa Bay Area to serving as a personal chef to working as a restaurant consultant across the East Coast. He is always searching for fresh, local ingredients to use at Rococo, and his inimitable style is recognized for its determined approach to the food he creates.
Chef Donny credits his 98 year old grandmother, Miss Charlotte as his path to his career and his wife, Sara-Ellen, as his muse.
- When did you decide to become a chef?
“I knew I wanted to become a chef at an early age while cooking and spending time with my Grandmother in the kitchen. It just made the most the sense to me.”
- What do you love most about your job and why?
“The opportunity to make guests happy. To see the happiness on people’s faces after they’ve eaten. Knowing I put that smile on their face is what it’s all about.”
- How do you and Executive Chef Jordan work together to create new menu items at Rococo?
“Having vastly different backgrounds is quite beneficial for us. It allows both of us to cohesively utilize our creativity to present the most unique, creative and colorful dishes that we are both proud to serve to our guests.”
- What’s one ingredient you couldn’t live without?
“Salt. Both cooking and finishing salts are essential to my process, as it really opens up the flavor profiles. Pepper changes, salt enhances.”
5. What is a good piece of advice to up-and-coming chefs?
“Have a deep passion and energy for what you do every day. Work hard, stay humble.”
Sous Chef Donald Burnett