Introducing Chef Sam Davis

Nous was given the unique opportunity to catch up with a Chef who has worked with some of the most well-known celebrities in the world and turned her passion into a way of life. Chef Sam Davis is a first generation American with a Jamaican background from the DMV who lets her roots shine through in her food. Sam has been featured on LinkedIn, Williams Sonoma cooking demos, Ebony magazine, and Hampton Magazine among others.

She has cooked for Roc Nation, The Fenty Family, Leslie Jones, Nike, BET, Topshop, the US Open, and the official NYC Caribbean Week to name a few. For those of you who could only name Rachel Ray, Paula Dean, and Gordon Ramsey as the only chef’s that you know, I think it would be important to commit this name to heart. Samantha does very important work mentoring and consulting other cooks and restaurants on the best path to success, and is doing great work in adding some diversity to a very homogenous field.

Samantha started her company, Savor by Sam, in lieu of creating her own restaurant because of the flexibility and creativity that it affords her. Savor by Sam does catering, baking, events, consulting, and even has private chef services.

When considering art, the first thing that comes to mind is visual art, music, and fashion but it is important to consider how encompassing art really is and people like Sam help us see and understand that. You can watch a piece of the highlight that LinkedIn put together on Samantha and see that she is chasing greatness, and the beauty of her cooking comes from a similar inspiration than that of any other artist. The artistic struggle is the same, and understanding and committing people like her to memory is going to help you respect all types of art at a deeper level.

Learn what Samantha has to say to young chefs and a bit about her story below, and don’t forget to check out some more of her accomplishments on her website.

Where are you from, how did you get your start, is there anything I should know, how did you get into photography tell me a bit about yourself.

I am of Jamaican background, first generation American. My parents came here in the 80’s. We moved around a bit when I was a child but I call DC/ MD area home, having spent the majority of my childhood there.  I have always been into food and poking around the kitchen as a kid because my mother is a terrible cook. My earliest memory of food that I can recall is getting food poisoning from her trying to make Crab Alfredo LOL.  Since then I always tried to learn how to make certain dishes, and when my little sister came along, it was mostly me doing the cooking for us.  It has always been my little safe space, I would spend the weekends trying to recreate meals that I have had.

Representation has become so important in so many industries but it seems like cooking is an industry that doesn’t have a strong black presence yet. What are your thought son why that is and the present situation of famous black chefs?

Representation is a huge problem across the board in our society. So just like in other fields, there are numerous amazing black chefs out here, but the world is not shining a light on them. Just because you don’t see us, doesn’t mean we don’t exist.  One of my closest friends and mentors is is Chef JJ who is a young black male chef out here redefining flavors and what we think about global food, and creating his own lane.  There are other amazing black and brown cooks, home cooks and chefs that I have learned from, worked with and who inspire me daily.  The image of a chef has traditionally been white male, and more specifically French. The world is pivoting though, maybe too slowly for some, but we are getting to a space where the traditional white male view and archetype that exists in most career fields is cracking, and women and minorities are breaking through, letting the world know that we are here and have been here. Our time is now.

As a cook who has seen a great deal of success, what is your advice to your aspiring chefs out there?

Stay humble and keep learning.  I am always the first to say, “Oh I didn’t know that” or “Show me how you do it” in my kitchen or when I’m in a restaurant.  I am constantly learning and am truly a student of my craft.  It is also  important to fail in order to succeed.  My best dishes are ones that I totally ruined when I first tried to make them.

We know you have worked with and cooked with some very influential people, who was your favorite to work with and why?

My favorite person to cook for so far is Leslie Jones. She is so funny and down to earth. She loves comfort and down home food.

What is your favorite Caribbean dish, for people who have never had Caribbean food?

My absolute favorite Jamaican dish is called Stew peas, its like a stew made with red beans and dumplings. My other Caribbean favorite is a warm piece of Roti

Savor By Sam does consulting, baking, cooking, catering, events and more, which area do you see the most opportunity and which area do you feel needs more diversity?  

I personally see more opportunity in the culinary world for minorities in general.  Global food is on the rise and we are the creators and the purveyors of these flavors.  I think that more black and minority chefs are going to have more say in how these foods are being received and the story being told with them.  Over the past few years, more specific regional cuisines have been gaining popularity like Nashville hot chicken, wet lemon pepper wings or Jamaican beef patties for example.  For a lot of us, these are foods that we grew up with and knew about, so who better to cook and tell the stories behind these foods, then us?

For someone who struggles not to burn rice in a pot, what basic cooking advice would you give?  

For rice specifically, get a rice cooker lol.  I live for my rice cooker.  My basic cooking advice is to just have a few basic, but oh so necessary tools. Get a good sharp knife and a cast iron pan. Always, always start with a hot pan and add seasoning to your food, one by one, never all at the same time.  You want to give each spice a chance to toast and then layer the next one on top of it.

For people who do not know who Sam Davis is, what should they know about you?

I think anyone who knows me knows that I’m a hard worker and stubborn. For those who don’t know me, I love 90’s RnB, I always have way too many Chapsticks on me and get used to seeing me.  I won’t stop until I am the black Rachel Ray 🙂

Jelani Arthur Williamson