Big Score For Miami
A happy wife makes for a happy life, right? Well, about 6 years ago, Shannon Allen, wife of former Miami Heat player Ray Allen, wasn’t content. “I remember driving down the highway on my way to the store to grab groceries for dinner when we were still living in Boston. Our son, Walker, had just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and I was pregnant with our third son, Wynn,” Allen says. “Walker got a low blood sugar reading—which translates to 'needs food now'—so I looked around frantically for something healthy I could get for him at a drive-thru."
After searching the area and not being able to find anything, Allen ended up calling a friend who's also an executive chef and asked him to meet her in the parking lot with four orders of gluten-free, panko-crusted chicken tenders, an unsweetened iced tea, and a bowl of chicken tortilla soup.
“It was $63. All the way home I kept thinking, ‘What busy mom can afford $63 for a quick dinner? And why can't I get an organic, free-range rotisserie chicken and steamed broccoli at a drive- thru?’” After getting frustrated, Allen decided something needed to be done. “I thought, ‘Why can't something be convenient and good for you? Why are these concepts mutually exclusive?’ I remember calling Ray and saying, ‘Enough is enough. If no one has big enough balls to reinvent fast food, I'm gonna do it.’ That was the moment Grown was born.”
Open since March, Grown, a 1,900-square-foot restaurant in the Miami suburb of Kendall, offers affordable organic breakfast, lunch and dinner options for those on the go. People are gravitating toward executive chef Todd Kiley’s Havana salad, which comes with fresh greens, corn and black bean salsa, white cheddar cheese, avocado, tortilla strips, and salsa fresca with a cilantro lime vinaigrette. Other popular options include the gluten-free Mediterranean wrap, and the Love Greens (think cucumber, apple, celery, pineapple, ginger, spinach, kale, parsley) fresh-pressed juice.
Ray and Shannon have their own preferred plates as well. “My favorite dish on our menu is the personal portion of organic salmon with quinoa tabouleh, garlic roasted broccoli and chimichurri. Our grilled salmon is so delicious, it's addictive,” she says. “We are very fortunate to be able to offer our guests some of the best organic salmon caught off the coast of the Faroe Islands and Scotland.”
Ray loves the chicken tortilla soup. “He told me the other day that he could live off of it,” she says. “I'm pretty sure it's because of how fresh it tastes. At Grown, we pride ourselves on only using 100 percent USDA organic certified ingredients and as much local organic ingredients as the season allows. Everything is made fresh on-site daily, including our marinades, dressings and soups.”
The two pride themselves on working with local organic growers to bring their customers the very best. Currently, they go to Alderman Farms for green beans and Paradise Farms for arugula and kale.
“Working with local organic farmers is one of the things we are most proud of at Grown. Ray, Chef Todd and I get a lot of praise for bringing this concept to fruition, but the true stars of Grown are the local organic farmers that do the back-breaking work to deliver fresh, delicious, organic products that we feature in each and every menu item we prepare,” Allen says. “Ray's mom grew up on a farm picking cotton in Arkansas. Her only memories of her childhood was the strength and determination she had as a little girl working in the fields not being able to go to school like other kids her age because she had to work to help put food on her family's table.
“My great grandparents [originally from the Cape Verdean Islands off the coast of Africa] on my mom's side were strawberry farmers on Cape Cod. They owned Scrub Oak Acres, a Black-owned farm whose land was eventually sold to Ocean Spray. They worked hard and lived off the land, it was never glamorous work, but it was work they took pride in. Growing and the entrepreneurial spirit is in our blood. We're grateful to be able to highlight our local organic growers in South Florida, in some small way it pays homage to the legacy of our people.”
Food Truck Frenzy
The past year has been a whirlwind for Derrick Turton. He recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of his mobile food truck, World Famous House Of Mac. After managing rapper Pitbull for 13 years, Turton decided it was time to switch gears, thanks to a little nudge from friend, Bun B (of the infamous Port Arthur, Texas duo, UGK).
“He inspired me to take this thing seriously. I would always go to the studio when people were in town and cook for them,” Turton tells EBONY.com. “They were actually the ones that were like, ‘Man, you need to take this more seriously. You got something.’” So after Turton’s father died in February 2013, and he stopped working with Pitbull the following year, he was moved to action. “It just changed my perspective on life and the amount of time you think you have here to spend it. People always put things off,” Turton says.
The talented chef (also known as Teach) purchased his first World Famous House Of Mac food truck in 2015 and hasn’t looked back since. “People act like we got another shot at this shit but this is it. Live your life and follow your dreams,” he says.
Bringing a tasty blend of Caribbean fusion to the streets, you can find Turton’s lobster mac and cheese, jerk chicken pasta, and buttermilk fried chicken and strawberry lemon waffles everywhere from the Wynwood Arts District to the Miami Boat Yard.
“I’m Trinidadian,” he says proudly. “I curated the entire menu. Everything is something that I thought about or something that I thought the market was lacking.”
And it's been working. Serena Williams and Amare Stoudemire are among his fans, and people sometimes wait up to 45 minutes for one of his creations. While everything on the menu looks tasty, Turton's personal favorite is the jerk chicken pasta. Another standout is his orange pepper wings.
“The wings are sweet and tangy. It’s like orange sauce mixed with lemon pepper. It’s one of the most popular wings in Miami right now.”
Given the size of each dish (which comes in a branded box with a caricature of his dad’s face on it), Turton says, “A lot of people say we don’t belong on a truck because our portions are not little—it’s like a real meal. You’re going to have enough to take home.”
Follow Turton on Instagram at @worldfamoushouseofmac to find out where his truck will be.
Courtside Chatter: The Perfect Personal Chef
On an average day, chef Richard Ingraham can be found conjuring up new recipes to serve Miami Heat shooting guard Dwayne Wade. As Wade’s personal chef, Ingraham is charged with the responsibility of making sure his diet is on point.
“We try to stay away from pasta unless it’s brown rice or quinoa pasta. Right now, his trainer wants to keep a lot of flour out of his diet, so it’s up to me to be able to work with the trainers to get the best results,” Ingraham tells EBONY.com. “We do some salads, juice, and then only lean meats—we may do a pork chop but it’s a lean pork chop."
Watching his grandmother cook at just the tender age of 10, Ingraham picked up a lot of techniques. “She would wake me up at 2 in the morning cause she had the turkey and ham cooking all night. She would say, ‘Baby, open the oven up. Let me show you what to do.’ I would sit there and watch her,” Ingraham says. “You don’t think that this stuff is permeating inside of you, but it is and you don’t even know it.”
Years later, the Carol City kid did a short stint at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee before moving back home to practice cosmetology. Eventually, Ingraham left the Sunshine State and packed his bags for Hotlanta where he received his culinary degree from The Art Institute of Atlanta. Doors started opening for him from there. He was offered a position as the personal chef of the late Alvah Chapman (former Miami Herald publisher and Knight Ridder chairman) followed by working on and off for Wade before going full-time with the NBA star in 2008.
In 2009, he and business partner Soley Gonzalez started ChefRLI, a company offering everything from private chef services to cooking classes in Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, and more. “I love to do a crab-crusted sea bass because sea bass is such a buttery rich fish and it stands up so well to many different types of flavors. I also like to mix in a little bit of old school so I pair the sea bass with greens and candied yams. And then for dessert, it’s always something real crazy. I’ve done sweet potato pie chocolate chip cookie s’mores where I’ve made sweet potato pie and cut it out into a ring and put it on top of a brownie. Then, I blowtorch the marshmallows,” Ingraham says. “That is the last thing that you’re going to have, so you want it to be the signature of your night. It’s the instant gratification that you get. You can’t get any closer to a person, other than sleeping with them, than to cook for them.”
In addition to him feeding the Wade family and helping to run ChefRLI, Ingraham also sits on the advisory board for the Miami Culinary Institute. “There are no schools offering any training for personal chefs,” he says. “You just want to see good students come out of these institutions to be a viable force in the food industry. Because unlike some industries, you can actually kill somebody if you don’t know what you’re doing. I make a mistake with your money, OK, you lost your money. I make a mistake with this food, you could lose your life. So we need to make sure we have people out there that are conscious of that and of the power that you have to be able to cook for somebody.”