Celebrity Chefs of South Florida: Head Chef Dustin Parfitt of Don Chepo’s Boca Raton

It seems like tacos are becoming the go to “sandwich” of the 21st century. Taco trucks are on virtually every corner, and Taco Bell was named America’s favorite Mexican restaurant in a recent poll!

Of course, most of us know that we can do a lot better than Taco Bell if we want yummy tacos. A lot better!

Recently, Chef Dustin Parfitt took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk a little bit about his passion for food, and why we should visit his newest eating establishment – Don Chepo’s Boca.

How did you get started in the food industry? I was in high school and wanted to work to make money so I could buy a truck. My first job was at a little breakfast joint in Wellington called Skippers Ice Cream, it was an ice cream shop but they had all kinds of dinner food on the menu. I was a dishwasher and I loved it! After gaining a little restaurant experience and moving out to Boca Raton, I started working at a restaurant named Max’s Grille in mizner place as a waiter. This was my first introduction to a fine dinning restaurant… I really liked working there and was good at it. A few years later I moved back to West Palm Beach and was working as a waiter at a new restaurant on Clematis Street called Abaco’s, this is when one of the kitchen guys didn’t show up and the chef asked me to help him in the kitchen after that night I never worked in the front of house again and decided to become a chef.

Can you tell us a little more about your business? The restaurant business is tough but very rewarding. It takes months of planning, practicing and training your staff. The reward comes when all your hard work pays off and you have happy customers that love your restaurant and leave with a smile. I have made some of my best friends in life by building relationships with them eating at my restaurants.

What is your philosophy on dining? The food has to be good, but the service and relationships you build with customers is so important. If a customer is called by his name when he walks in and the bartender knows what kind of drink they like, this is what brings them back over and over. We have always tried to build relationships with customer and treat them as friends, you don’t get that at many places anymore.

Of all the dishes on the current menu, which is your favorite? I currently have been working at the Don Chepo’s Taco Shop in Boca Raton. My favorite taco would have to be the Al Pastor. I just bought a new pellet smoker that is alot of fun, smoking the pork together with the pineapple gives an amazing aroma and flavor. Paired with our fresh made tortillas, it’s a match made in heaven.

Are you enjoying your time in Florida? I have lived in Florida since I was 12, I am now 41. Florida has by far the best seafood in the United States and I enjoy that more then anything.

Can you tell us a little bit about your previous experience in fine dining? I started my fine dinning training at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. I worked as a cook at the Flagler Steakhouse. I have always considered this my culinary school training. The chefs that I learned from there, and the lessons they taught me I will never forget. 

What is the funniest thing that happen to you in your cooking career? We had a comedy night at one of my restaurants last year where we bring in local comedians. We brand our restaurants with the fashion cuisine title because we have always considered that people eat with their eyes first, so if all the plates look really good and as we say “fashion” you’re off to a good start. Anyway the first joke out of the comedians mouth was, “What the f%#* is fashion cuisine?”. My partner and I died laughing for 20 minutes.. 

I know that many restaurants in South Florida now focus on using more local cuisine. What ingredients are you planning on highlighting this season? I am focusing on seafood this year and working with local fishermen to bring the freshest seafood to all my restaurants.

More and more chefs in the Palm Beaches have become involved in cooking contests featured on the Food Network. What advice would you give to up and coming chefs interested in competition? I have never competed on the food network. I did a competition called feast of the sea last year which was a blast. Working with local chefs and trading secrets and recipes is the best part. I think the best advise in a competition is to have fun and be yourself!

What new and exciting plans do you have for your restaurant?

Monday – All you can eat tacos for $15
$2 taco Tuesday – all tacos are two dollars all day long
Wednesday- half price drinks all day long
Thursday – Two dollar Nachos
Friday – Live music from 630-930
Saturday – open late with a DJ

We also are looking forward to having our first Cinco De Mayo block party in Boca.

We’d like to thank the management and staff of Don Chepo’s Boca Raton for helping to coordinate this interview, as well as Chef Dustin Parfitt for his hospitality. Check out our recent review of Don Chepo’s Boca Raton to get a better idea of what dining on Chef Parfitt’s cuisine is like!

If you’re a local chef whose cuisine matches up to the best out there, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us and perhaps you can be the next celebrity chef!