TheGrio's 100: Roblé Ali, chef serves it up on reality TV show

Roblé Ali is an up-and-coming celebrity chef whose talent is just as potent as his sense of humor. Ali goes by the moniker Chef Roblé on his new Bravo television show Chef Roblé & Co., which follows him and his sister as they launch his new catering company and put on events for VIP clients.

A Somali-American (he aptly refers to his heritage as being “Halfrican”), Ali grew up with an interest in food and learned to cook from his maternal grandfather. He grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and graduated from the nearby Culinary Institute of America.

“In the beginning I just really wanted to eat, and I figured out that if I wanted to eat the way I wanted to eat all the time, I’d have to figure out how to cook well,” he said.

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Now, as the owner of a catering firm, Ali said his goal — whether by cooking or cracking jokes — is “to make sure people have a good time.”

When Ali started cooking at high-end restaurants in New York City, he quickly elevated his reputation when he created a menu at the exclusive Avenue restaurant in Manhattan.

Ali is also famous for putting an original spin on classic recipes, like one of his favorite dishes, which he’s refashioned as “crack n’ cheese.”

“Don’t worry — we are a drug-free enterprise,” Ali joked about the metaphorical title. The dish includes smoked duck skin cracklings on top of a traditional macaroni and cheese.

Ali’s stature has even reached presidential proportions. His catering company recently created dishes for an exclusive fundraiser for President Obama’s 2012 election campaign. The 45-person dinner took place at filmmaker Spike Lee’s house in New York City and cost more than $30,000 per person.

Roblé Ali is making history … as a stellar chef rising in the competitive catering biz. He is also one of the only African-American chefs with a reality TV show. Ali’s talent and creativity in the kitchen has even caught the attention of celebrities, such as R&B singer Faith Evans and the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

What’s next for Ali?

Aside from filming his reality show and running his catering company, Ali is working on other projects, including designing merchandise — which may include a line of kitchenware — and hopes to one day have his own cooking show.

In his own words …

“I really like what Marcus Samuelsson is doing at Red Rooster. I like what he’s doing with African and African American cuisine,” Ali said. “He’s taken a lot of soul food classics and really presented them in a grown up and sophisticated way. You can see him in everything that’s on that menu — where he’s from and where he’s at. One of my goals is to be able to get to a point to where I can do that, where you can really see me in everything.”

A little-known fact about Roblé Ali…

Ali’s maternal grandfather, Jesse Harris, was a chef for President John F. Kennedy.

For more information about Chef Roblé & Co., THE”>click here GRIO’S Q & A WITH ROBLÉ ALI

Q: What’s next for you in this chapter of your life?

A: I’m trying my best to remain present so next is right now for me. I’m concentrating on solidifying my catering company and brand.

Q: What’s a little fact about you that many people don’t know?

A: I’m “Halfican-American.” My Mom is African-American and my Father is from Somalia. (Yes, I know that I capitalized Mom and Father. I always do.)

Q: What’s your favorite quote?

A: “As you think, so shall you be.” -Proverbs 23:7

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

A: The entire Universe. It’s all around.

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: Chef Chris Santos, the head chef and owner of The Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex restaurants in New York City.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to achieve their dreams?

A: No matter how hard it gets, NEVER quit, and above all have faith. The law of attraction is real!