Chef Wenford Patrick Simpson of BB Kings Blues Club, the popular spot in the heart of Broadway, is in our “Chef Spotlight.”
Born in Claredon, Jamaica Chef Patrick was raised in St. Ann’s Parish, and got his first experiences in the kitchen at the tender age of nine. Chef Patrick is currently the Corporate Executive Chef for B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York, NY, Highline Ballroom, Howard Theater in Washington D.C, and Subrosa. His cuisines were rated “Best in Taste” at the Spring Taste NYC, 2015 and also “Best in Taste” at the Taste of Times Square, 2016. His memorable personality and meals have brought many celebrities to sample his cooking, includingMagic Johnson, Rachael Ray, Tarrus Riley, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, the Ambassador of South Africa, Jean N. Kamau, Phylicia Rashad, Jamie Foxx, and many more. Occasionally, you will find Chef Patrick at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s giving fans sample tastes of his creations, giving their taste buds an experience for the ages. Chef Patrick was rated Bloomingdale’s favorite chef. In addition, Chef Patrick created his own line of sauces and seasonings which is currently in stores under the brand name,Simpson’s Foods. Chef Patrick has his cooking show “Cook-Up with Chef Patrick” on the TEMPO Networks, a pan-Caribbean television channel broadcasting music and culture of the Caribbean. The show airs on Optimum channel 1105, Verizon FiOS channel 267and within all the Caribbean Island Network.
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
It was really two things: poverty plus creativity. I came from a single parent home, my mother worked two jobs, and it was my responsibility to make sure myself and my younger sister had something to eat. So from a young age I was always trying to make the most of whatever we had in the cupboard. It was trial and error by necessity, which is a good way to learn and improve any skill.
Who were some of your career mentors?
My mentors were basically anyone I was working with in the kitchen at the time-my supervisor, the executive chef, whoever it happened to be that was inspiring me with their passion and originality. My chef on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is a good example. I love to cook and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people so of course I was always absorbing the discipline and the unique styles of the professionals around me.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
Caribbean cuisine is definitely something that’s always been an important part of my flavor. My style is basically a fusion of classic American and Southern Soul food with that Caribbean flair. But I really like to get creative and mix it up; I can do different things, incorporating Chinese or French so I end up with a unique dish like shrimp fired rice with jerk chick on the side. I can do a lot of different things with seasons, spices, herbs and seafood, so those ingredients are staples in my cooking. Presentation is extremely important to me; my meals are a statement of heart and hard work. Everything should look so good and flavorful and appealing before you even taste it!
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
Well, my personality complements the food. I approach every dish with love and passion. People have even walked up to me after eating and said they felt the same warm, relaxed, comforting energy in me as in their meal. I’m trying to make the greatest dish possible whether it’s a salad appetizer or an entrée; everyone should feel like they’re getting VIP treatment. There a lot of customer favorites at B.B. King‘s: our ribs and jerk chicken are extremely popular, we get great reviews on our ribs, jerk chicken and brisket burger (served with jalapenos on a Hawaiian brioche bun), and people love our brisket sliders, popcorn shrimp and chopped Salads.
What is your favorite meal?
Salmon. Jerked salmon. I’m a seafood person and I’m always throwing in a Caribbean element.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
When people come to B.B. King‘s they get treated with love. They’re going to have a great time, delicious food, and of course they’re going to see some incredible music. We focus on the details and take pride in what we do. Every night my kitchen is striving to exceed expectations to give people an experience they’ll want to come back for again.