Chef Sheridan Street wins first-ever Bad Boyz of Culinary People's Choice Showcase by bringing classic comforts together with her signature sauce
Cracked pepper is her favorite spice and she won a culinary competition based on the quality of her vegetable side dish. Sheridan Street knows that food doesn’t have to be complicated to be spectacular. She isn’t out to subvert expectations. She simply creates cuisine based on instinct, experimentation, and intuition.
The fact that it has resonated with clients ranging from struggling college students paying a few bills for plates of food to NBA all-stars hiring her to host elaborate private dinners is something for which she’s still really humble.
Street’s path to a culinary career was a winding road. Like many talented with ingredients, her first earnings as a chef were made from home-cooked meals prepared in a small college apartment kitchen. At the time, she’d started meal prepping for herself to save money. What would become her signature—using simple and affordable spices—attracted salivating spectators as she warmed up her meals in the communal microwaves at Long Beach State.
“It started with other students sniffing around, and they’d say, ‘Hey, when you make your next batch of meals, make me a plate,’” she says.
Then when her grant money ran out, she started selling plates out of her car and used the revenue to pay for school. She started using the principles from her communications and business management courses in real-time, creating and posting a menu three times a week and then prepping 50 to 70 meals at a time. It didn’t take long before she dropped out of college and started her private chef business full-time.
In March, she became the first winner of the Bad Boyz of Culinary first People's Choice Culinary Showcase. Louisiana Purchase at 2305 University Avenue hosted the People’s Choice event spotlighting up-in-coming culinary talent. Everyone sat down to eat and received access to a digital voting platform and a four-course meal, one course by each competing chef.
Despite the Bad Boyz’ name, three of the four chefs in the showcase were women. Each was assigned a different protein at random for the competition.
Street wasn’t thrilled at being given pork. “I’m not anti-pork, but I don’t go out of my way to use it,” Street says.
Clearly, the challenge worked in her favor. Street says pork made her think of homestyle farm-to-table cuisine and recipes that are rich in the decadent flavors of classic comfort foods. She created a roasted ham dish reminiscent of an Easter or Thanksgiving holiday feast.
Her side dishes were traditional mashed potatoes spiced with black garlic, cream, and butter. This made the perfect complement to earthy bites of collard greens. Though she kept added salt to a minimum, she teased taste buds by drizzling the pork in a roasted red pepper cream sauce. The added aroma, seasoning, and overall presentation of the dish were the best in show.
But one unexpected item garnered the most praise. Everyone who complimented her dish raved about the greens. Street explains she was amused because vegetables aren’t usually the star attraction. Her old-school flavoring choice did not go unnoticed. Normally, she would have used smoked turkey to mellow the bitter notes of the Southern side dish, but since pork was already on the plate, she didn’t hesitate to add bacon to season her greens.
“When you grab a little of everything on your fork, everything needs to make sense.”
Despite the praise for the greens, the true winning element was likely the combined forces of her plate.
“The balance, that’s what makes a good dish,” she says. “When you grab a little of everything on your fork, everything needs to make sense.”
She says that too many people reach for salt because they haven’t developed an appreciation for what other spices can do. That’s one of the reasons that she’s a fan of fresh cracked pepper.
“A lot of people misunderstand spice, but there’s a difference between heat and flavor,” Street says. Experimenting and learning how to produce more appealing flavors from simple dishes will remain a lifelong pursuit as she progresses as a chef, she says.
For now, Street plans to continue living and working between Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego for client events, but she’s looking for a home base.
“I’m looking for stability after years of booking my own clients and not knowing what you’re making each week,” Street says, who plans to continue catering celebrity dinners and helping out fellow chefs as needed.
Anyone interested in booking Street’s catering or meal prep services can find her on Instagram and Twitter by the handle @streetandspice or online at streetandspice.com. (And her website is really good.)