Darren Chavis, Creole Soul Café
On this episode of Working: Syracuse, we step behind the doors of Creole Soul Café to find the bold, rich flavors of New Orleans Creole traditions and a chef who surrendered a lucrative career in construction to spend his days making the food of his home. The Salt City features a range of foodie favorites — countless Italian joints, hidden Vietnamese and Thai gems, and enough dinners to satisfy any pancake purist. But Darren Chavis found a gap, an opening where he could create a restaurant to celebrate his heritage with a selection of iconic dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and po' boys. Chavis describes New Orleans cooking and Louisiana food culture as a melting pot. A standard bowl of gumbo serves as a perfect Exhibit A: the roux is from France; the name, from West Africa; and the filé, from Choctaw tribes of North America. Chavis opened the restaurant in 2015 and credits his family for developing his work ethic, saying he is just one of a long line of stubborn entrepreneurs.

"Before our meal was over, Chavis stopped at our table — as he did at every table throughout the night — to ask how our dinner was," wrote Jacqueline M. Domin in a review of the restaurant for Syracuse.com when it first opened on Jefferson Street near downtown. "It speaks to his affability that he made such visits even though he was clearly working hard in the kitchen. He was more than happy to answer questions, including one he gets often: What's the difference between Cajun and Creole food?" For Chavis the answer is simple — country versus city food.