The young up-and-coming chef, Craig Lawson, is the true definition of lively. Every time this 22-year-old speaks, his words are accompanied by a laugh or smile. Lawson’s passion for food is genuine and his enthusiasm is contagious.
“I’m always excited to cook,” Lawson said as he prepped a new dish in his kitchen.
The New Orleans native opened his catering company, Chow Down Kitchen, at the young age of 18. He fulfilled this part of his culinary dream after finishing school at BRCC and working as a line cook for two and a half years at Sullivan’s Steakhouse here in Baton Rouge.
Lawson’s interest in cooking didn’t begin until high school when he realized that preparing meals at home was a cheaper option than buying food all the time. Learning a thing or two from his mother and grandmother while helping them in the kitchen, he used what he knew and started cooking on his own.
“My favorite dish to cook is lamb chops because it’s fun plating it up. I usually side it with garlic mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts with bacon and apple, and top it off with a balsamic drizzle. I’m not too big on making desserts because that’s just a different ball park,” said Lawson.
Two years ago Lawson earned the nickname “Chef Gucci,” because people were telling him he sounded like Gucci the rapper.
Lawson is popular for making appearances at social events such as “Chicken and Waffles” that started mid-September at the Roux House.
He also collaborates with local DJs and other chefs to cross promote their businesses by doing pop up shops around the city. He is currently working on a project with Chef Foody Patutie, Chef Andre, along with other chefs that will take place in March 2018 at City Pork.
When Lawson isn’t cooking, he’s busy watching “Chopped” or “Chef’s Table”. He received a casting call to appear on “Chopped” in Houston with only a two-day notice. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend because of a previous catering event commitment.
Lawson had the pleasure of cooking for former LSU football player, Leonard Fournette, who helped get his name out by telling others about his quality food.
“Cooking for LSU students and athletes has helped me expand my business a lot. But, Instagram is my promoting thing. A lot of people support me there. I try to advertise as much as I can,” said Lawson.
He plans on selling merchandise to his fan base such as t-shirts that will say “Quick Fix” and “Late Night Snack”.
Lawson loves to travel. His favorite destination has been Austin, Texas because of the scenery and the amazing food culture of the city. He also travels to Lake Charles, Lafayette, and New Orleans to cook for private dinners and events. Lawson is proud to share that he’s had the opportunity to cook for the popular media company The Shade Room and New Orleans Rapper “Fiend.”
With the start of the new year, Lawson has many things to look forward to. He’s currently in the process of opening a spot near LSU’s campus that will specialize in macaroni and cheese, in the fall of 2018.
“My advice to aspiring chefs will be to always try new things. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing. Don’t get scared to put your foot in the water. Just do it.”
Image: Sean Gasser