Conversation with a chef: Don Smith, Wynn's Catering

Chef Don Smith is the person behind all the wonderful homemade food at Wynn's Market and Wynn's Catering. He says he enjoys making everyone happy –– his employees and his customers. He wants everyone's party to be the way they imagine it, and all his workers to enjoy what they do.

Age: 42

Education: I started in Michigan working for a couple at a winery. The wife was the publisher of a dining magazine and encouraged me to go to different cities to learn about different foods. I traveled around the world to perfect my craft. I was with them for nine years and then came to Naples.

How long have you been a chef? I have had the chef title for five years. I have been with Wynn's for 14. I started on Fifth Avenue and now we have this 5,000 square-foot space.

What gives you the most satisfaction? Doing something different everyday. In season we do eight to 10 parties a day and supply the market. We accomplish so much with so few. I also enjoy playing with the food and trying new things. I really like garnishes.

What is the hardest part? The number of things that have to be done, not just the cooking. Making sure everything is finished with our signature garnishes to make the food look beautiful, and making sure the employees can work on their own. Getting everything done.

Don Smith

Photo by Darron R. Silva, Daily News

Don Smith

What would you be if you weren't a chef? I can't imagine doing anything else. It is all I've ever done and all I want to do.

What is the last thing you burned? You burn yourself here all the time, but don't even realize it, because you are working so fast."

Do you cook at home? Yes, I like to grill and experiment.

Who would you like to cook for? I would really enjoy cooking for Jimmy Buffet.

What would you cook? Definitely not a cheeseburger. Something from the Caribbean.

What is your favorite utensil? I would have to say my garnishing knives. Each one does something else.

Chef Smith gave us the recipe for his raspberry chicken for four.

Ingredients

4 halves of boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Vegetable oil

Small jar raspberry preserves

1 tablespoon raspberry or red wine vinegar

Preparation

Make breading by grinding pecans in processor to very fine. Add to plain bread crumbs and set aside.

Pound chicken breasts very flat.

Rub each breast with Dijon mustard.

Coat each breast with bread crumb-pecan mixture.

Place coated breast on a plate and cover with tin foil and refrigerate for one hour.

Take out of refrigerator and sauté in hot oil until golden brown. Place on plate and prepare sauce.

Empty preserves into a small bowl and add vinegar. Stir until smooth. Place a small dollop of sauce on a plate and place cooked chicken on top. Serve with pasta.

Wynn's Catering is located at 10900 First Ave., Naples (649-7272) and Wynn's Market is at 141 U.S. 41 N., Naples (262-1353)

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