Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley

Tee solo edit

Chef Tee is smoke free!  After 27 years of lighting up, the Salt & Pepper co-star quit smoking cold turkey, and says he doesn’t miss it.

It’s been nearly two months since Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley picked up a cigarette.  Even though many stumble when trying to kick their nicotine habits, the Washington, D.C.-native is confident he won’t fall off the wagon, thanks to his faith in a higher power.

“God told me to quit because He said He has big plans for me,” the SNP chef said.

Giving up cigarettes (Chef Tee averaged a pack a day) was half of his two-part fitness plan.  Last year, the SNP co-star completed the first part when he shed 60 pounds.

“I wanted to lose weight by my 51st birthday, and stop smoking by my 52nd,” he said.

Now that Chef Tee has accomplished both goals, he feels amazing.  No cigarettes means he is breathing easier, has an improved sense of smell and a more discerning palate.

“Everything tastes different and smells different,” he said with a bit of wonder in his voice.  “It’s like I’m tasting things for the first time.”

As a result of his more open senses, Chef Tee can balance flavors better when cooking, which ups his game in the kitchen.

If you know the D.C. native, and had never seen him smoke, you’re not alone.  He considered himself a “closet smoker” because he only lit up when driving alone in his vehicle.

Shortly after becoming smoke free, Chef Tee got rid of his truck and bought a new one as a “kick-the-habit” reward.  He also got it because he couldn’t stand the stench in his old vehicle anymore.  Chef Tee didn’t notice the smell when he was a smoker, but now his nose is more sensitive.

“It (the old truck smell) was making me sick,” he said.

Chef Tee Helps Raise $ For Homeless in D.C.

Chefs Jarobi Murray, Nathan Spittal, T n Rock HarperSalt & Pepper star cooks for HeArt & Sole: An Evening with Chef Harper & Friends

Last month in the Nation’s Capital, Hell’s Kitchen winner and Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley protégé, Chef Rahman “Rock” Harper, hosted HeArt & Sole, a tasting and silent auction benefit for the Central Union Mission.  The money raised will help feed and buy shoes for people living without a home in the Washington, D.C. area.  Chef Tee and more than a dozen other talented chefs (some high profile) donated their time to cook for the event’s tasting, thanks in part to Chef Harper, who was a big reason that many of them came out.  Participants included:

  • Chef Warren Brown, Food Network host and CakeLove creator
  • Chef Daniel Thomas, author, private chef, former head chef for the U. S. Senate Executive Dining Room and head banquet and catering chef for the U. S. Capitol
  • Chef Huda, Food Network Cutthroat Kitchen Winner and Pretty & Delicious owner

Some sports and media personalities volunteered their time to help prep ingredients and serve.

What does the HeArt & Sole title mean?  He stands for Jesus.  (Central Union Mission is a faith-based nonprofit.) Art represents the art created by men in the mission’s programs that was on display and up for sale, during the benefit’s silent auction.  Sole is a play on the words sole and soul.  Sole represents the shoes that inspired the chefs’ dishes, which were cooked from the soul.

See-doc-for-names-1024x683Chef Tee made Fish and Grits served with Wilted Spinach and Orange Caper Remoulade, a dish inspired by the expensive tennis shoes he often trashed as a mischievous preteen fishing for tadpoles and running from the authorities. Huh?  How’s that connected?  If you know Chef Tee, you know there is an elaborate backstory — LOL! Chef Tee and his friends often went tadpole hunting in a pond that was legally off limits, so to stay one step ahead of the cops, they had to run through a lot of gunk that ended up on his sneakers.  Here’s the connection.  The lily pads in the pond represented the wilted spinach.  The sludge inspired the creamy grits.  The crunchy tilapia crust and orange caper remoulade reminded him of the muck in the pond.  (Btw, after every tadpole run, Chef Tee rushed to clean his sneakers because he couldn’t let his parents see that he soiled $30 tennis shoes; cheap by today’s standards, but expensive back in Chef Tee’s day.  Well, he’s busted now!  :-))

HeArt & Sole gave Chef Tee an opportunity to cook alongside chefs he’s mentored.

“They make me feel so old, yet so young,” he said.  “It’s a wonderful feeling to see the next generation of chefs giving back.  Well done Rock!”

Why Central Union Mission matters?  This nonprofit helps rehabilitate and meet the needs of OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe thousands of men, women and children living without a home in the D.C. area.  It also serves as a satellite location for DC Central Kitchen’s culinary job training program.  (Both Chefs Tee and Harper are DCCK Culinary Instructors.)  James Starkes is one of the mission’s success stories.  Starkes graduated from both the Central Union Mission and DCCK programs.  He cooked at HeArt & Sole and currently works as a chef at the mission.

HeArt & Sole co-sponsors: Exelon, National Cable and Telecommunications Association and Daubers, Inc.

Photos: (1) Chef Tee pictured w/protégés, Chefs Jarobi Murray, Nathan Spittal and Harper, who worked as line cooks under Chef Tee at BET on Jazz Restaurant in the late 1990s; (2) Steve Fitzhugh (former Denver Broncos player), Sunni (WPGC 95.5), Chef Warren Brown, Chef Huda, Chef Rock Harper, Jamie Foster Brown (Sister 2 Sister magazine), Chef Jerome Grant, Chef Horatio Davis; (3) James Starkes

SC Church Massacre

SnP love 2Updated June 17, 2016

Personal message from Salt & Pepper Chefs executive producer Drakeel Burns.

In honor of today’s one-year anniversary of the Charleston Church Massacre, I am sharing the following message I first shared shortly after the shooting (with a few minor edits) because I think it is more appropriate now than ever.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Charleston, South Carolina, community grieving the loss of nine African Americans killed at a church during bible study by a white gunman.

It’s been nearly a week, and my heart is still breaking because the shooting hits so close to home.

  • My parents and most of my immediate family are from South Carolina.
  • Clementa Pinckney, the pastor and state senator who was killed, was a distant relative (he was a cousin-in-law on my dad’s side of the family).
  • Pinckney lived in my parents’ hometown, Ridgeland, and my cousin, went to high school with him.
  • My mom is an avid church goer who attends bible study every Wednesday.  In fact, she had returned from one just hours before the massacre.

Despite all of that, I believe America IS better than this, in part because of Salt & Pepper Chefs, a cooking show I created to help bridge the gaps between cultures, races, home cooks and culinary professionals.  This message is not a shameless plug for SNP Chefs.  I know America needs more than a TV program to heal our wounds, but I believe SNP Chefs shows us what is good about togetherness, and how diversity makes us stronger.

When I see white “home cook” Brian Reeve, who was raised on a hog farm in Iowa and black professional chef Terrell Danley (aka Chef Tee), a city guy who was raised in Washington, D.C., act like brothers, I smile.  Brian and Chef Tee hit it off from the start because, even though their backgrounds are different, they find common ground in their shared love of food, faith, family, people and values.  They also have the same wicked sense of humor.  (When asked “Who is salt and who is pepper?” they laugh and often say, “You tell us because salt and pepper come in different colors.”)  As a result, they respect each other and are open to learning from each other.

(Click to watch SNP Chefs playfully putting diversity front and center during a cooking demonstration on WTTG Fox 5.  Chef Tee called out Brian, a white man raised in Iowa, for using collard greens in a recipe!)

So, I am hopeful that America IS better than the racial divide that continues to cut us so deeply because as Brian and Chef Tee show us, we are more alike than we are different when it comes to the things that really matter.

Hurting but still hopeful,
Drakeel Burns, SNP Chefs Producer

Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley

A new FIT man!Collage

“Oh my God!  What happened to you?” is what Chef Tee’s friends, who haven’t seen him in a while, usually ask when they see him now.  The six-foot-three, gregarious Washington, D.C. native was 305 pounds last Thanksgiving.  He’s shed 60 pounds since then and plans to lose 25 more.

“I lost 14 inches off my waste, and I dropped almost four suit sizes,” he said.  “I’m wearing cloths I couldn’t fit in, in ten (years).  I feel amazing.  My skin looks and feels healthier.”

It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who’s often said “fat tastes good,” “you can’t trust a skinny chef,” and “chefs are supposed to be big.”  Turns out, all that talk was just bravado.

“I wasn’t happy,” he admitted with a sigh.  “I looked at old photos and missed that guy.”

Even though Chef Tee longed for his former self (he was 225 pounds when he graduated from college in the 80’s), he wasn’t in a hurry to change because he didn’t have any major health problems.  No high blood pressure, cholesterol or heart disease.  Then, he knew it was time for a transformation when the following things happened within a week last year around the holidays:

  • The D.C. native didn’t recognize a chef (who was also a friend) because the chef had lost 150 pounds and looked great.  This slimmed-down buddy encouraged Chef Tee to lose weight.  Seeing a fellow chef and friend, who was morbidly obese, now in shape, gave Chef Tee hope that he could get fit too.
  • Chef Tee’s chronic back pain had gotten so bad, that he was walking bent over at work.
  • A co-worker’s dad, who was just a few years older than Chef Tee, died from a heart attack.
  • Chef Tee’s daughter said she wanted him to look “sharp” for her high school graduation, and he knew that was her way of saying she wanted him to get in shape.

 So how did he do it?

“It’s a lifestyle now,” he said.  “I’m not on a diet.  I eat less and exercise.  There are no shortcuts.”

Chef Tee’s Weight Loss Plan

Lose It application — Chef Tee used this app to set calorie goals and keep track of how much he ate daily.  If he consumed too many calories in the morning, he would cut back in the afternoon and evening, and vice versa.

Portion control — He ate several small meals and healthy snacks (apples, yogurt and almonds were his favorites) high in fiber and protein, throughout the day to keep up his energy.  He also enjoyed food in moderation.  For example, he would opt for one slice of pizza instead of two.

Exercise — Chef Tee walked a lot and used Fitbit, a wrist device that tracks the amount of calories you burn per step.  He did push-ups and sit-ups.

Lots of water — He drank a gallon-to-a gallon and a half of water a day.

The end result is a lighter and healthier Chef Tee with an improved back, more energy and a thrilled family.

“I’m quite proud of him,” said his wife, Portia.  “He’s a much happier person, which makes for a much happier house.  I never thought I’d see him back in shape and taking his health seriously.  It’s also great to see how many people he has inspired to follow suit.”

Read how Chef Tee stopped smoking cold turkey.

SnP Welcomes New Family Member

Moose 2015 - editHome Cook Brian Reeve and his family recently adopted a 10-month-old German Shepherd mix named Moose from a rescue organization.

The Reeves have been thinking about getting a dog for a while (actually, their daughter Chloe has been begging for one for years).  They decided to get Moose because of his special connection to the Kansas City Royals — the family’s favorite baseball team.

“I knew it was fate…when I came downstairs after talking over getting him (the dog) with the family, and the Royals were playing,” Brian said. “Then Moose (Royals third baseman Michael Moustakas who is nicknamed Moose by Royals fans) made the play from third to end the seventh (inning).”

Another sign that Moose the pooch belongs with the Reeves — Moustakas team number is 8, and Moose is the eighth member of the Reeve family that includes five people and two geckos (yes, geckos – it’s a long story :-))

Congratulations Chef Tee!

Chef Tee

Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley’s list of culinary accomplishments continues to grow.

The Salt & Pepper star is now a member of the new World Central Kitchen’s Chef Network.  Led by world-renowned Chef José Andrés, WCK’s Chef Network is a group of 50 elite chefs committed to working with World Central Kitchen to help support smart solutions to hunger and poverty.  Other participating culinary professionals include top chefs Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, Carla Hall, Spike Mendelsohn and Andrew Zimmern.

New Job

Chef Tee has joined the nationally-renowned DC Central Kitchen as a Culinary Chef Instructor.  DC Central Kitchen is nonprofit organization that offers innovative solutions to poverty, hunger, and poor health through job training, healthy food distribution and local farm partnerships.

Chef Tee Is Runner-Up In Food Network Competition

“Do I think Ryan and I represented D.C. well? Exceptionally well,” said a proud Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley after he and teammate, bar owner Ryan Gordon (pictured on the right), earned runner-up honors during Food Network’s Chefs vs. City.  Shot in the Nation’s Capital and recently aired on Food Network, the entertaining race pitted the D.C. duo against Food Network Chefs Aaron Sanchez and Chris Cosentino.

The rules were simple. The first team to cross the finish line after completing five grueling food challenges would be the winner.  However, the game was tough because the competitors had to decipher clues to figure out what and where the challenges were. Then they had to fight Washington, D.C.’s notoriously busy traffic in cars and on foot to get to each contest.  Chef Tee’s restaurants Brightwood Bistro and Creme Cafe and Gordon’s Bar The Pug were featured on the show.

In the beginning, both sides predicted victory.  Team D.C. dubbed itself “The Brunts” and affectionately referred to the challengers as “The Pretty Boys,” implying that “The Brunts” had more heart and skills than “The Pretty Boys” who were just fluff.

The D.C. duo had crowds cheering them on at nearly every location and the advantage of knowing how to get around the District, but Cosentino started his career in D.C., so he knew his way around too.

“We are going to make Chris realize that he was only a guest here,” Chef Tee said early on in the competition.  “This isn’t his hometown.”

Chef Tee made good on that promise during the first challenge in which he and Gordon beat the network guys at making a cedar-planked salmon on a split cedar branch–a traditional Native American technique that dates back generations.

Scorecard — Brunts 1, Pretty Boys 0.

Cosentino and Sanchez came back strong to win round two by beating the hometown guys in a race to construct a two-foot ornate edible sculpture.  The guys had to work with superheated molten sugar, turning the sticky, melted down goo into a masterpiece that you could eat when it cooled and solidified.

Chef Tee and Gordon reclaimed the lead when they were the first to make a traditional Middle Eastern Shawarma, a rack of lamb and beef that’s stacked 18-inches high and 25-inches around.

Both sides struggled with challenge number four–replicating a vegetable art sculpture centerpiece made of cucumbers, carrots, melons and other produce.  The chefs had to rely on precision, creativity and knife skills to get the job done.

“It’s just bringing back culinary school nightmares for me,” Sanchez said.

To make the challenge more difficult, workers moved the original sculpture so far away that the competitors had to use binoculars to see it.  Eventually the Food Network chefs came out on top, leaving the locals trailing, stressed and panicked.

Team D.C. finally faced the last hurdle–making and eating a Chinese delicacy called a Century Egg.  This 100-year-old preserved egg has a black, gelatinous exterior and a creamy green yoke.  It smells putrid and Sanchez described the taste as “fermented sulfur.”  The teams wore gloves while carefully making the eggs with lye, a chemical that can burn off your skin.   Then each guy wolfed down two eggs that had been preserved for nearly a year.  The Food Network pair finished first but Team D.C. was close behind.

The race to the finish line was intense because both sides had to navigate through D.C.’s gridlocked rush hour traffic.  In the end, Chef Tee was last to cross the finish line.  His aging 46-year-old body worked against him.

“It came down to a broken old man,” he said with a smile. “I’ll take that any day.”

Chefs vs. City airs on Food Network.  The show features Sanchez and Cosentino competing against different teams of local chefs.

Published on August 28, 2010

Chef Tee caters at White House with Potomac Job Corps

Mexican sweet breads, Mexican wedding cake and a tropical fruit display.

Those were the creations that Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley and his Potomac Job Corps students (pictured) served at a White House ceremony recently to help kick off National Hispanic Heritage month. The event was a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Labor and the White House.

“We are excited,” said Potomac Job Corps Center Business and Community Liaison Bryan Nabiyev about the students’ first visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

VIP attendees included U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, White House Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and Ambassador to El Salvador Maria Del Carmen Aponte.

National Hispanic Heritage month runs from September 15 through October 15, 2010.

Job Corps is a part of the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration. It is the nation’s largest career technical training and education program for students ages 16 through 24. Chef Tee runs the Potomac Job Corps’ culinary program. For more information, call 800-733-JOBS (5627) or visit Jobcorps.gov.

Published on September 17, 2010

Chef Tee Wins Battle of the Chefs’ Crown

Apple and Cranberry Crisp — that’s the recipe that gave him the top honor.  A confident Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley knew his dish would beat the competition before the judging started.

“We got this,” he boasted playfully as three local chefs prepared to take him on. His challengers were Eat and Smile Foods Chef Oliver Friendly, Evening Star Café Chef Will Artley and Von Der Pool Gourmet Chef Lauren Von Der Pool.

Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass was the emcee for the battle that kicked-off D.C. Farm to School Week and School Garden Week (see photos below). Both are initiatives that help schools in the Nation’s Capital serve and highlight fresh, locally grown produce in their cafeterias.

The competitors were paired with a high school student from Thurgood Marshall Academy. Chef Tee’s partner was sophomore Malachi McCaskill (pictured above with Chef Tee) who also predicted a victory.

“We are going to win,” he said.

Each team of chef and student had 30 minutes to prepare a healthy and delicious apple dish. The judges were students from Thurgood Marshall Academy and Savoy Elementary School.

Chef Tee and McCaskill weren’t the only ones talking trash in the beginning. When asked what he thought of his competition, Artley said sarcastically, “I don’t even see other people.”

He changed his tune after students lined up to vote for Team Tee.

“It smelled good,” said ninth grader Darylquisha Hill after sampling the Apple and Cranberry Crisp. “It just hit the spot.”

“It was the perfect mix of crunchy, soft and hot and cold,” said senior Markus Batchelor.

After the win, Chef Tee acknowledged that his challengers were talented but said he won because he made comfort food that everybody is familiar with.

“Simple is better,” he said. “No fancy, shamcy stuff.”

A complete list of the competitors’ recipes is below.

  • Chef Tee’s Apple and Cranberry Crisp – winner
  • Chef Lauren Von Der Pool’s Happy Face Sliders
  • Chef Oliver Friendly’s Spicy Apple Slaw with Chicken Sausage
  • Chef Will Artley’s Apple Raisin Flap Jacks with Apple Syrup

Published on October 12, 2010

Whole Foods Market® is New Salt & Pepper Sponsor!

The Natural and Organic Grocer provides foods for all of online show’s events

“This is huge,” says Saltandpepperchefs.com producer Drakeel Burns. “We are honored to work with such a respected brand that sells wonderful ingredients that we love.”

Home Cook Brian Reeve and Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley will use foods from Whole Foods Market® during media appearances, program tapings and LIVE demonstrations.

“We are excited to support the Salt & Pepper chefs and provide them with high quality ingredients for each of their dishes,” says Whole Foods Marketing Team Leader Fadia Jawdat. “Whether you’re whipping up a quick meal or roasting a turkey, Whole Foods Market® is a safe bet to satisfy all of your cooking needs.”

Published on Dec. 12, 2010