Ellis Delahousay is raking in the accolades. It’s no surprise, really. He showed well as a track and field athlete at Mercer County High School, from which he graduated in 2009. He went on to study culinary arts at Sullivan University and, while a student, cooked for the Alltech board of directors during the World Equestrian Games.
He created a dish that reflected his culinary point of view as well as his roots in Kentucky and New Orleans, from where he hails. Delahousay says he’s considered himself a cook since he was 14. Food mattered to him and provided pleasure and enjoyment.
“As a kid, instead of cartoons, I put the Food Network on,” Delahousay says.
Delahousay describes his culinary style as “fusion” and “unique to me,” with strong leanings toward French and European techniques and flavors.
He signed up for a 13-month program through Sullivan University that offered chefs coming out of school a place to work overseas in a “stable, fun environment.” His first stop was Germany, where he worked as a contractor for the United States Army. He was located at a resort in the German Alps where Army personnel stay for vacation time before going on tour. Currently, he is in Dunlavin, County Wicklow, Ireland, working as a chef at Rathsallagh House Hotel.
He counts among his influences Chef Marco Pierre White, a British celebrity chef, restaurateur and television personality. “A lot of people have (trained under) him,” Delahousay says. Other influences are English Chef Heston Blumenthal, a molecular gastronomist — although he dislikes the elitist term — and owner of The Fat Duck, a three-Michelin starred restaurant in Bray, Berkshire; and British Chef Gordon Ramsay, best know to American audiences for television offerings “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Master Chef” and “Kitchen Nightmares.” Delahousay says Ramsay has a different approach to food that is “business-driven,” which he admires.
“He had a drive to continue on even when three restaurants (failed).”
Delahousay isn’t interested in doing food through a reality television show. “Reality food isn’t real food,” he explains.
If he was going to do a competition, it would be the Bocuse d’Or in Lyons, France. Every two years, 24 countries are chosen to compete in the Bocuse d’Or. Each country’s team is composed of one chef and one assistant. Each team is given 51⁄2 hours to create two elaborate platter presentations — one of seafood and one of meat.
“It’s an old-school way of doing food,” Delahousay notes.
He says his signature dish would be “whatever’s fresh and whatever’s local,” and likely would be a French-based food item. But it would include his Kentucky and New Orleans influences.
Another New Orleans tradition he likes is “eating and talking,” thus enjoying the food and company present, rather than rushing through a meal and barely tasting the food. “I can be more than happy to eat and talk for a few hours,” he says.