Kristine M. Kierzek
With his sights set on some of the most rigorous competitions in the culinary world, Daryl Shular combined his love of food and sport to literally reach the top of his game.
As a young chef, he became a member of the American Culinary Federation’s Olympic team. Participation in the International Culinary Art Exhibition meant being able to compete with chefs from around 60 nations.
Next, he set out to become a certified master chef. After completing the eight-day challenge in 2014, he became the first African American in the country to receive the designation of Certified Master Chef and was inducted into the African American Chefs Hall of Fame in 2017.
Taking on challenges and setting goals is something that Shular believes is a learned skill that he wants to pass on to the next generation of Milwaukee chefs.
In 2019 he founded the non-profit Shular Institute and FarmED in Tucker, Georgia. This summer, he and business partner Sean Rush, a graduate of Riverside University High School in Milwaukee, are expanding from the Shular Institute to found Brigade MKE.
Beginning with culinary bootcamps, the goal is mentoring and training, beginning with students aged 14-18. Based at Parklawn Assembly of God, 3725 N. Sherman Blvd., the program aims for culinary development and entrepreneurship inspiration.
During a recent phone interview, Shular and Rush shared their inspiration and why they are focusing on the next generation of chefs in Milwaukee. Information about the program can be found at www.brigademke.com.
TIED TOGETHER:Upstart kitchen in Sherman Park has a bunch of entrepreneurs looking to start food businesses
Question: How did you get into the kitchen? How did you decide on a career in cooking?
Daryl Shular: I am President of the Shular Institute in Atlanta. I’ve been in the industry since I was 19 years old. My inspiration for cooking started at home with my mother. I’ve always said that if she took on the role of a professional, she would become a chef.
I entered the Culinary Institute of Atlanta in 1993. … At 22 I was a chef in a large hotel. At 24, I opened my first restaurant in New Jersey. In 2008, after many years, I tried my hand at cooking competitions for the Olympic cooking team and represented the US team in Germany. This was the platform I needed to become a certified master chef and I took the exam, which took eight days.
Q: Why choose the Culinary Olympia and Master Chef path?
Shular: I chose this path for the same reason we are here today. I saw the ultimate goal as a successful businessman with many concepts in United States. I wanted to be an expert in my craft.
When I graduated from culinary school, there was a chef, Darryl Evans. He was the first minority on the Olympic culinary team. It was a combination of my passion for sports and the culinary world. … I knew that a successful master chef certification would open many doors in my career. .
Q: How did you two meet and what does the Shular Institute bring to Milwaukee?
SeanRush: I grew up in Sherman Park near Upstart Kitchen. I graduated from Riverside (University High School) in 1993. I traveled to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College. I have worked in branding in various industries.
It wasn’t until I started at Le Cordon Bleu in 2004 that I became interested in education and the culinary arts and what the culinary arts mean to a person’s career path… Le Cordon Bleu was the largest culinary program in the world. At the same time, Johnson & Wales and the Culinary Institute of America produced many graduates. We flooded the market with kids who also ran up a lot of debt. The culinary industry is unable to pay them to pay the loans they have for college.
During that time, I saw Chef Shular progress through the Certified Master Chef program. … He gave me his lifelong vision to start this institute. The core task was to prepare these children and young adults for the reality of the industry from day one. On the other hand, not to burden them with student loan debt. It’s our mission to provide a world-class master chef-level education to people who are passionate and deserve a place, but come out pretty debt-free.
Q: Currently, both MATC and WCTC offer well-known culinary programs. How does your program compare?
hurry: The beauty of MATC and WCTC, even with these two schools, even with our institution, and you could put two more, it’s not enough. The culinary industry… the labor has been reduced.
I looked at these programs. That’s why we created Brigade MKE as a bridge rather than a competitor. … We envision upgrading the city, starting with youth aged 14-18.
Q: Tell us about Parklawn and the space you use.
hurry: It is a beautiful, fantastic kitchen that will host Brigade MKE and other initiatives. We recently received a grant from Milwaukee County, specifically a juvenile detention center…they were our first financial support system that allowed us to develop this kitchen.
Parklawn has also made investments because the kitchen is used for other purposes. … We will bring in new appliances, floors, refrigerators, shelves and small goods and reach out to sponsors and organizations. … This is a long-term investment. We have meetings with Prostart Wisconsin and MPS and we work with members of Upstart Kitchen. We plan to start a three day camp in June.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating this program?
hurry: This conversation in Milwaukee started two years ago during COVID. … Back then, people were just trying to save their businesses. The conversation in Milwaukee originally began as a higher level program like we have here (Atlanta). As we spoke, employee development training was more important. … The Brigade MKE program for kids ages 14-18 is about getting those kids fit at a younger age.
Q: Chef Shular, how do you approach teaching culinary arts?
Shular: It goes back to the culinary arts and the hospitality reflects the sport. You have to work as a team. The more you work on your skills, the better you become. … This is really an early stage of the early leadership academy. Your base employees should also have leadership qualities. …
We will create the next generation of the industry.
Table Chat includes interviews with Wisconsin or Wisconsin natives who work in restaurants or support the restaurant industry; or guest chefs. To suggest people for a profile, email email@example.com.
More from table chat:The Food Network contestant is using her Muskego youth for a ‘non-invented’ approach to healthy eating
More from table chat:This woman changed careers at 50, started raising sheep – and now has one of the best cheeses in the world