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  • Writer's pictureDerek D. Ross

From Culinary Dropout to the Food Network’s “Chopped”:

Chef D. Arthur is Living Out His Dreams One Recipe at a Time

by Derek D. Ross | WeINSPIRE Contributor

There is a quote by Michael Chabon that says, "If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans."

The quote paints a picture of a humorous God who is imagined chuckling when His children elect to tell Him what is in their best interest.

I think we can all recall moments in our lives when we’ve tried to tell God what our plans for our lives were going to be only to be met with the opposite outcome; often times leaving us with a deeper appreciation for His process and plans rather than our own.

Chef D. Arthur’s story of becoming a highly sought-after, self-taught chef was no different; stirring him away from the blueprint he originally outlined when he first began his culinary journey and inspiring us to add in more flexibility into our personal recipes as we pursue our goals.

Desmond Robinson, professionally known as Chef D. Arthur, grew up inspired by the four cooking matriarchs in his family.

Photography Credit: Benji Aiird

The culinary influence of his Grandmother, Mom, Aunt, and Godmother would ignite a passion in Chef D. Arthur carving a path to his national television debut on Food Network’s “Chopped” on Tuesday, March 2 at 9:00 p.m. EST/ 8:00 p.m. CST in an episode titled “Meat Fight: Bison!”

Although a shining moment in the near decade-long career of the Memphis native turned Brooklyn resident, D. Arthur’s road to the national stage was all but smooth and traditional.

In his first attempt to go after his culinary dream of becoming a chef, D. Arthur decided to enroll at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Atlanta, but finances cut his dream short. After a few weeks, D. Arthur had to make the heartbreaking decision to drop out due to the expensive price tag of tuition.

Photography Credit: Sedrick Askew

Momentarily re-routed, but not defeated, D. Arthur went back to school to obtain his master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Louisiana State University on a graduate assistantship, which allowed him to work for the university in exchange for free tuition. He worked as a Retention Counselor for TRIO Student Support Services at the University of Memphis, and as Senior Training Coordinator for Training & Development at Regional One Health.

Although successful, D. Arthur still felt the constant tug of his culinary dreams.

“I really wanted the traditional culinary journey… going to culinary school, starting at a restaurant and working my way from the bottom to the top and being an becoming an executive chef, but what life has afforded me was a far more complicated but a cooler journey… one where I was not classically trained, I never worked in a restaurant for real for real, but I’m still out here doing cooler work than I’ve ever imagined,” recalls Chef D. Arthur.

And in 2011, D. Arthur decided to give his culinary dreams a second shot and took a leap of faith into entrepreneurship to carve his own path and started his own catering company called, D. Arthur Catering.

Photo Courtesy of Chef D. Arthur

“Had I had the journey I wanted, I’d probably be working a traditional restaurant job doing really well, maybe some other version of happy, but this journey is far more exciting. I get to travel all over the world, cooking the types of foods that I enjoy, for people I enjoy; and all of that came about from finding my way in this culinary field for myself. I had no choice other than to cling on the things that I knew, and those things shine through.”

Now nine years later, his full-service catering company has Chef D. Arthur traveling the country cooking up culinary delights offering services from weddings and reunions to private dinners and cooking lessons, as well as private/personal chef services - former clients includes members of the Memphis Grizzlies, Brooklyn Nets, Portland Trailblazers, and Indianapolis Pacers NBA teams.

When asked how he felt about being on Food Network’s “Chopped”, Chef D. Arthur replied, “Chopped has always been intimidating to me. I’ve avoided being on the platform for most of my career. As a primarily self-taught chef, I’ve always been afraid of being exposed as not being the real deal. I’ve been combatting imposter syndrome my entire 9-plus-year career as a chef. Competing on ‘Chopped’ was my way of looking my fears and insecurities directly in the face and not backing down. I did not back down!”

Chef D. Arthur’s words of advice to anyone passionately pursuing their dreams: “You have to really really REALLY believe that your dreams will become a reality. It’s not just enough to merely kind of believe it. You must cling to the notion of your success feverishly. After you REALLY believe it, you must then put your heart, soul, faith, discipline, hard work, and money behind it.”

Currently, Chef D. Arthur is a food blogger, speaker, etiquette coach, and personal chef who travels the world cooking delicious dishes and inspiring the next generation of chefs with his story. For more information about Chef D. Arthur, his business and services visit, his website or follow him on Instagram.

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