Q&A: Dwayne Ingraham

Sinfully Southern’s Dwayne Ingraham answers a few questions about his childhood, culinary interest and life as a new restaurant owner.



What’s your earliest food memory? 

My mother did not like to wake up in the morning, so she taught us how to make breakfast early on. I want to say I was 7 or 8; I remember Saturday morning cartoons being on, so probably somewhere in that time frame.

What was the first breakfast food you cooked? 


Did you burn them? 

I’m sure if we got a French-trained egg cooker, he would probably not have many good things to say about it, but they were definitely edible. They might have been a little brown around the edges.

When did you know this is what you wanted to do for a living? 

Not until later on in life. I went to culinary school at age 23.

Did you have any embarrassing moments in culinary school? 

My first internship was a mess. I was a mess! I went down to the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota to interview for a position and told them very clearly my experience had been limited to what I learned in school, you know, baking breads, rolls, things like that.

I get there and they stick me on the pastry line and the chef is like “You should be able to write on plates and make custards and plate desserts and I’m like “I have no idea what any of this is!” If there was ever a moment of self-doubt it was halfway during that internship, so one day I just didn’t show up and the chef called me up and said in his little French voice, “Dwayne, where are you?” and I said, “I’m at home, Chef. I ain’t comin’.” And he said, “That’s funny. Now get your ass in here and we’ll talk about when you get here.” (laughs)

What’s your favorite thing to prepare? 

I love plating desserts, the art of plating desserts. I have a different philosophy in that I’m not a mass producer. I hate mass production. I’d much rather make you ten of something and put all of my energy into that.

If you weren’t in the culinary field, what other career path would you have followed?

Before getting into this field I wanted to be a speechwriter, actually. But now, if I weren’t doing this, I would probably want to be a real estate agent. Like Million Dollar Listing or something.

If you could throw a dinner party and invite anyone, living or dead, who would be on your guest list? 

My great-grandmother. My mother. I think I would love to sit down with past generations of my family just to be able to come together and talk about what food means to them.