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Dionna Israel

Teaches at The Chopping Block at the Mart

Training/education: Schoolcraft College Culinary Associates; 2005. Wayne State University B.S. Advertising; 2007.

Cooking since: 2001

Favorite childhood food experience: As a child, my mother used to make pancakes that looked so amazing, my friends would look forward to breakfast in the morning. My father made, and still makes, the world’s best curry chicken.

What made you want to become a chef? I have always loved to cook since I can remember. I used to pretend that I was doing a cooking show when I was in the kitchen by myself.

What is your signature dish? Hot entrée: Mushroom and Artichoke Risotto; Dessert: Grandma's Carrot Cake

What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without?Butter, heavy cream, white wine, black truffle salt and more butter.

What do you love about cooking? Cooking is very relaxing and rewarding. I love the idea of being able to start with nothing, and end up with a delicious masterpiece.

When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? I am influenced by my hunger, and I’m inspired by my mood, which is usually quirky.

What advice would you give a new cook?Never be afraid to try something new! Even if it turns out to be a disaster, make sure you have fun. Learn what you like, and what you don’t like and watch your expertise bloom!

What are you doing when you're not cooking? I am either relaxing with my hubby, reading a good book, or searching for another awesome restaurant in the city.

Describe your perfect evening.I would start with going to a restaurant that I’ve never gone to before. Some place with high reviews. After dinner, my husband and I would go to Millennium Park and walk around. (Because in the perfect evening, the weather would be perfect as well.) We would end the evening with a Bananas Foster dessert that would magically appear in our hands as the sun set beautifully into the night sky.

If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? We’d definitely go to the Doughnut Vault for morning donuts, then to Zed 451 for lunch, then we’d finish the evening at my home. I’d make Coq au Vin with horseradish mashed potatoes, and haricot verts. For dessert, I make carrot cake with a bourbon caramel sauce.

Where are you from? Detroit, Michigan

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