It is often said that love is the food of life, but for Chef Otis Weary Jr it is in fact food that is the love of his life. Making his start cooking for his local church in Atlanta Georgia, Chef Otis found a love for food that brought him all the way to the kitchens of Walt Disney. While it may seem as though the creation of delicious food is simply Chef Otis’ job, it is far more than that. From self-expression to cultural heritage cooking has been a medium for the talented chef to display his life through sauces, spices, and sautees.
For most cooking is at worst a nuisance and at best a hobby, but Chef Otis’ story begins and ends with the culinary arts. Raised in the south by his Lousiana-born father and his Atlanta-based mother, Chef Otis was brought up with the smells of family recipes drifting through his childhood. However, it wasn’t just his home life that led him to cooking, at his local church a young Chef Otis began his culinary career at the age of 20. While some get discovered on American Idol Chef Otis’s story is perhaps a bit more humble but just as entertaining, as he was singled out by an astonished churchgoer.
“I’ll never forget the way she asked, “you’re the chef?” telling just how surprised she was that someone as young as I was had done that work’
After studying at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school Otis began his career as a renowned chef. Working for elite companies such as the Walt Disney World Resorts, Chef Otis perfected the two most useful skills a chef can have; his palette and presentation. Food presentation can be an art, but it can also be Velveeta mac and cheese thrown on a plastic plate. The only difference is how much the person creating the plate cares. Chef Otis’ successes in the culinary world have proven that presentation, as well as perfectionism, is what can make or break a chef and their dishes.
“One thing I quickly learned is that people like what they like, so you better get it right, the first time, I mean, they’ve paid too dollar for this experience and we culinary artist must always deliver.”
While perfectionism and the expectations that come with presentation aren’t often seen in what we consider art, there is no doubt that what Chef Otis does is a form of artistic expression. Whether it’s caviar or acrylic paint, an art critic, or simply a hungry civilian, if something beautiful is expressed and made, it is art: and there is no doubt Chef Otis has embraced this mentality more than anyone.
“Food and cooking have without question helped me understand myself in ways I otherwise may have never discovered”
The artistry of Wearys work is commendable, however, his ability to turn a talent into not only a career but a business of his own is admirable. After starting, his first company Silhouette Catering in 2008, a new breed of company morphed from Chef Otis’ culinary endeavors; Velvet Hospitaliry LLC. Which is not only a catering company but a full-service hospitality business. This combination of catering and hospitality seems obvious as chefs are innately hospitable, they bring people into their businesses and pour their hearts and souls into everything they create. However, Velvet Hospitality LLC is entirely unique with its top-class approach to consistent service and culinary expertise.
Through each of Chef Otis Weary Jr’s culinary experiments, a new layer of creativity is released. Proving that being a chef goes beyond food, money, and business and reaches into community and art. Chef Otis is an interesting man with even more interesting things ahead of him.