If you’re one of the few million (yes, million) people who follow DJ Khaled on Snapchat, you’ve definitely become familiar with a few consistencies that exist along the journey to more success. Lion order, “they,” major keys, getting pulled over by the jet ski police, and so much more are an everyday occurrence at this point for both the Miami mogul and all his followers.
Another constant is Chef Dee, Khaled’s full-time personal chef, who usually appears every morning after an elevator ride and a walk down the marbled pathway of success. Spoiler alert: The next Snap is egg whites.
Since “they” don’t want Khaled to eat, it’s a good thing he sampled Dee Hodges’ skills about a year ago when her company Empty Plates Catering had a gig with the DJ/producer/restauranteur/sneaker collector/cocoa butter enthusiast. Khaled must’ve known that he wouldn’t be able to get lost at sea and go in on the elliptical without Chef Dee’s gluten-free, health-conscious cooking, so he signed her up right then and there. She’s been cooking up to five meals a day for Khaled and anyone else who comes through the crib ever since, doing her part to help the whole squad hurdle roadblocks and weather the storm.
Dispensing cloth talk all day long works up an appetite, so we sought out Chef Dee to chop it up about her major keys in the kitchen. From the DJ’s guilty pleasure dish (no, it’s not egg whites) to why she thinks he’s a foodie, this is a glimpse into the culinary world of DJ Khaled—a world “they” don’t want you to read about.
🔑 #ijustcantstopchefingitup A video posted by Chef_of_the_year🍴🔪#Zphi (@chefdee305) on
So what is your cooking background, and how did you get involved with DJ Khaled?
My background comes from a little bit of everything: hospitals, private country clubs, and restaurants. Then I started my own thing, Empty Plates Catering Services because I didn’t really like working for other people. I’ve been doing it since 2012. I’ve been mainly doing local corporate events for a while. Then last year I got a call to do some work for DJ Khaled, and I’ve been working with him ever since. I’ve been cooking since I was about eight. Started with a little Easy Bake Oven-type thing, watching my grandma cook, watched a lot of Food Network coming up.
So you’re kind of an entrepreneur just like Khaled.
Yeah I guess you could say that. [Laughs] On the food side of things.
Did you know who DJ Khaled was before you started working there?
Of course I did. I’m from Miami. I am a fan.
In terms of your work with Khaled, are you strictly his chef? Or do you play a sort of a nutritionist role as well? Because it looks like you’re always trying to provide healthy food.
I would never call myself a nutritionist because I didn’t study that. I am his full-time private chef. Do I make healthy food? Of course I do. You know, that’s just knowledge that comes from doing my own research and knowing what’s good to eat and what’s not.
I was gone for a min, but I had to get back…. Not feeling 💯 but ppl gotta eat!!! #ifnotchefD #thenwho???? #ijustcantstopchefingitup #chefdee A photo posted by Chef_of_the_year🍴🔪#Zphi (@chefdee305) on
But is there an emphasis on healthy food?
Of course! Everything is healthy, gluten-free, non-GMO. I try to stay away from fried foods—a lot of stuff is oven prepared and pan-seared. We don’t use pork or shellfish. It’s kind of like my own creative take on the things he can have, and the healthiest way that I can prepare them.
So on the opposite end of that spectrum, what do you prepare for him that’s like a guilty pleasure?
That’s a hard one. [Laughs] Maybe my oven-fried chicken. It’s gluten-free with gluten-free breadcrumbs. It’s kind of like a fried food take, but it’s prepared in the oven. It makes it feel like a cheat day, but it’s really not.
What is Khaled’s top favorite food that you make for him?
Outside the egg whites every morning? [Laughs] I’m not sure if there’s a definite favorite. The thing is, it’s not really about requests. I kind of have my own lane of creativity working with him, so every day it’s something different. So the way it works is one week I might introduce spring rolls or egg rolls or wontons, and he might really like that, so I’ll make it a couple times. Just really depends on what kind of lane I’m in at the moment. We try to switch it up often.
Why does Khaled only eat egg whites for breakfast? Along with chicken sausage or turkey bacon. And water.
It’s what he likes.
Every day. It doesn’t get old for him. I might add some French toast or some gluten-free pancakes or some gluten-free toast. Definitely the key is always egg whites. It’s just his preference. Not everyone likes plain eggs. Egg whites just happen to be his thing. Sometimes I push the meat with the chicken sausage or the turkey bacon, but it’s always going to be egg whites.
Finish product!! #ijustcantstopchefingitup Chicken wontons Chef Ming Dee A photo posted by Chef_of_the_year#Zphi (@chefdee305) on
This might shock you, but I’m not wealthy enough to have a personal chef, so how does it work? Does he put in requests, or does he give you general guidelines, or is it completely up to you?
I know what he does not like, so outside of those general guidelines, the creativity of the daily menu is totally up to me. Mostly the breakfast is kind of his request. People always say, “Oh, it’s always egg whites!” That’s because he likes it. Lunch and dinner is totally what I’m thinking that day, unless he requests something special, but 95% of the time it’s totally off my creativity that day.
What was the last special request he made?
Egg rolls. [Laughs] Sometimes when we do something new and he likes it, he wants to have it a couple times. I make in-house homemade egg rolls and wontons. I stuff them with chicken—no pork. I think that’s one of his favorite little appetizers, if I had to name a current favorite.
Game time ready!!! My edition of southwest egg rolls, (minus the black beans) w/ avocado ranch dipping sauce #ijustcantstopchefingitup A photo posted by Chef_of_the_year🍴🔪#Zphi (@chefdee305) on
Would you say Khaled is a foodie?
In some kind of way I could say that, because he’s so into the food that I make. I can’t say that he sits there and eats all five plates, because that’s not true. But he is always open to my creativity. You have to be a sort of foodie to want to try something without requesting it, in my opinion.
When you see what Khaled is eating on his tour, do you approve? What are your thoughts when you see him at Denny’s or ordering room service?
It’s not about where he’s eating. It’s that he’s staying true to himself. I still see him ordering egg whites and chicken sausage so I don’t really have a negative say.
How come he only drinks bottled water? At some point, I wondered to myself, “does DJ Khaled own a cup?”
[Laughs] Yeah, of course. The bottled water is already cold so it’s more convenient. I don’t think it’s a big preference. I mean, there are cups available. He might not drink it all at the moment, he might pick it up and take it with him.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone and a Special Happy Bday S/O to one of the realist clients I have @djkhaled#ijustcantstopchefingitup #miamichef #thanksgiving2015 #anotherone A photo posted by Chef_of_the_year🍴🔪#Zphi (@chefdee305) on
What are the major keys for being a celebrity personal chef?
Let’s see… Creativity, you always gotta have that. You know, the flexibility with your schedule because it’s a very demanding area to be working in. You gotta have passion because if they don’t see you into it, they’re not going to want it either. And presentation. I think people eat with their eyes all the time. So I make sure if people see my plate they think, “Oh my god, it looks good, so it must taste good.” If both of those things meet each other, then you can’t go wrong because they will be excited to eat it and it will taste good on top of that.
So how do you balance your own business, Empty Plates, and also being DJ Khaled’s full-time personal chef?
As far as my business goes, I have a strong team that has my back around the clock. When it comes to me doing my catering, we make sure its well executed and running properly. Even if I can’t make it to Khaled’s on time or at the same time everyday, I’m always there. I have a good team on my side.
Are you chef for all the people coming into his house, making business deals his masseuse, Benjamin Kickz, are you feeding them as well?
If they’re there and I’m there, I always offer food. If I know they’re going to be there ahead of time, I make sure I have enough to offer everyone.
#ijustcantstopchefingitup itup A photo posted by Chef_of_the_year🍴🔪#Zphi (@chefdee305) on
When we see the huge lunches you prepare on Snapchat, usually there are five to six things, does Khaled just choose one?
Yeah, you know, the five or six meals I choose is a really big question. He’s not going to eat five plates for lunch. Typically, he will just choose one, and if his wife is home she will eat one, and whoever is there later will choose one too.
Who are “they,” and why don’t they want Khaled and his followers to eat?
In my opinion, “they” are whoever is bringing negative energy. When you think of “they” and all the things they don’t want you to do, its because they have negative energy towards you.
People are legitimately motivated by his positivity. Are you motivated by this guy?
I’m living it, you know, I’m there every day. I’m not sure of the impact yet, but I’m living the inspiration, making his meals. I think I’m more touched that it’s touching other people. That’s big for me to see that I’m around the person that’s doing this for the community.
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