• Elsie Hernandez

"Everything I make, I make with LOVE"______Chef Diablo

Food is almost like a science experiment created to leave a super impact on your taste-buds. That's how I feel every time I taste Chef Diablo's (Nightt Samuel) dishes at his beautiful restaurant Cream, located in Ridgewood, Queens. However, Chef Diablo isn't only a chef, he’s also a man of many trades, just to name a few, he teaches and is also a computer programming expert. His delightful persona and passion for creating unique cuisine are just an added bonus to who he is. Cream is a beautiful place specifically designed with his added touches, unique cocktail hours, great brunches and it's actually one of the fanciest places in the neighborhood. I have to say, speaking with Chef Diablo was really a fun time. Full of lots of laughter and great enthusiasm. You can also feel the same energy the minute you walk into this restaurant. Great food and the cocktails are fun too! ( profile photo provided by Nigght Samuel)

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I've been a chef for over 17 years, but ever since I was a little kid I have always been interested in cooking. I used to make little fake menus with crayons and give it out to my siblings and they used to order stuff. 

How did you know that you were going to be a chef?

 I don’t know, I just loved cooking. It just came naturally. I first started learning from my mom. Like eggs and breakfast stuff. My mom who is Guyanese, used to cook these delicious meals with curry and all of these carribien ingredients, but that was too technical for me, so I had to stick to pancakes and breakfast food. I started creating menus with breakfast choices and would take my brothers and sisters orders. I remember, I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mom would help me, but for the most part I was actually good. She didn't have to stand by me and hold my hand. I was learning, but I was doing it. Also, when my grandmother used to babysit me I would make my own food, things like sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese.

We live for those special moments.

Hell Yeah. I have a whole list of it.

Were you self taught or were you trained at an academy?

I was self taught at first. Then after I graduated high school my goal was to go to the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, but it was too expensive and it was like a 8 month course and that was like going to college. So, I didn’t end up going there and I just started working on other things, like graphic design. I‘m a jack of all trades, but culinary is my number one. I have a degree in digital coding, computer engineering and a Bachelors in Business and Administration. Eventually, I decided to go to the French Culinary Institute In NY. The experience was good, however I learned a lot more by working hands on in a restaurant. I feel like culinary is a hands on profession. In the school I learned a lot about the wording, but the technique, when you are in the industry are really things that you need to learn on the fly and it was really hard to do when you trying to follow a recipe. Cooking professionally doesn’t work like that, but the education was very intense. The program starts with learning in a kitchen classroom, then in their very own restaurant. Which was on the 1st and 2nd floor. The rest ends in different stations to help you learn the industry. Once I completed the course, I was given the opportunity to become a judge to the following students. To be honest, I almost didn’t graduate, because I got into a situation in which I broke my knuckles. I landed up being wrapped in a cast and the lessons required a lot of whisking, however I had to either pay for it or say screw it. I chose the later option. The cast came off and I went for it and that’s the best thing I did. Thank God they healed.

Who are your favorite chefs?

My favorite chef is Masaharu, the Japanese chef from Iron Chef, Bobby Flay, because of his rustic techniques, which is similar to what I go for in my cooking style. I also like Gordan Ramsay, because I had the opportunity to work with him in catering.

Is he Chef Ramsay anything like the show?

He’s nothing like the show, his attitude is more about helping you, and I loved that about him. He might yell and scream, but he genuinely wants you to do better.

Your dishes are very tasty, we had the opportunity to try them the other night and they were delicious. Where do you get your inspiration from?

What would be a dream event for you to cater?

I would like to cater to a wedding. Anybody’s wedding, not just one specific couple.

You can actually do weddings in your Cream’s back yard.

Yes, I would love to do weddings in my back yard, where we can drape and add the décor of a full wedding. I have done engagement parties and pre-wedding dinners, but not a full wedding. That’s my thing to do. On Valentines, I went all out here. We separated the tables for the couples, we had red candles and a full romantic décor. The food was prefixed for $90.00, the couples received a three course meal for two, which included; appetizers, chocolate cover strawberries, two signature cocktails, a professional photograph taken at our Valentines mini Studio set-up and they left with a little treaty bag with chocolates.

That’s a great price.

It was worth it!

Right now, what's popular in the industry is the craft culture for beer. I want to introduce the cocktail culture here at Cream. Our spring and summer cocktail menu is phenomenal.

What are your top five must have ingredients that you use?

My staple go to ingredients are, Curry, Casian Seasoning and Garlic. I love garlic. I also love thyme and rosemary.

What’s your signature dish? You know how everybody says, he’s coming to the BBQ, we hope he the BBQ?

Me, I don’t have a signature dish, because I often cook everything, but if I’m at a BBQ, they usually throw everything on me to cook anyway. So yeah, but I do like to do jerk chicken and my major thing is adding spices to my meals. Especially, my love for hot spices. All of our food here at Cream has a little touch of spicy to it, which gives it that kick. However, I’m very into BBQ. I do a lot of BBQ and smoking. I have a little smoker and grill here in the back at Cream as well.

What is life to you?

To be honest, I haven’t discovered the answer yet. I could say many different things about how I’m feeling, however I just want to become great. Of course I want wealth, like everybody does, but I really just to become great. I want to be remembered as something, for helping. Regardless of what it is, if it’s culinary or through computer engineering, just something. Maybe, like someone like Steve Jobs and just continuing the legacy and making sure that my daughter knows that her father conquered something.

Do you have any new projects coming up?

Every day is a new project here at Cream, because we always have a theme for the day. For example. “Boozy Tuesdays” with 50 cents wings, ”Whiskey Wednesdays”, “Thirsty Thursdays“, “Feel Good Friday’s”. So every day we have a happy hour, but we have different sets to our happy hour. So you don’t get tired of it. Every Saturday and Sunday we have the unlimited brunch menu which is $30 And has delicious choices.

That's great, because with so many brunches everybody has the same thing going on.

Our brunches are crazy fun.

What’s your favorite thing to celebrate?

I love Halloween. Last year we served devils punch and kept the Halloween theme going throughout our menu. This year for Christmas, I’m planning a magical winter wonderland here at Cream. So, it’s going to be great!

What advice do you give any new upcoming chefs?

Well, I don't want to be a cliché and say follow your dreams, but I do want to say, if something comes to mind regardless of what it is in life, shoot for it. That’s what I teach my students in my robotics coding class at City College now. As for future chefs, hands on experience is the best way to learn about cooking. Even if you have to start as a dishwasher and work your way up.

With so much going on in America, what beauty do you see in America today?

Whatever is going on doesn't make America ugly, as long as the people are here America will always be beautiful.

Cream Instagram photo

Whats the best dessert you serve here at Cream and the best dinner?

Our best sellers right now is our dessert banana bread pudding and our dinners are the pork chop, chipotle chicken and steak.

So tell me why do you want people to come to your restaurant?

I want people to come here, because we have great food, great drinks and great vbes. Also, let’s not forget the great music piping throughout the restaurant, personally selected by me.

We loved this interview! Thank you Chef Diablo!

Don't forget to go visit Cream in Ridgewood-Queens, where the food is delicious and the owner is an absolute sweetheart. To continue reading our great stories, please don't forget to subscribe, just click on the star on your way out. We appreciate the support! Thanks for reading.

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Chefs mentioned:

Gordon Ramsay:

Bobby Flay:

Masaharu Morimoto

Resources mentioned:

Institute of Culinary Education

The French Culinary Institute