John Paul Abernathy - 86'd William "Billy" Barlow - 86'd Michael Duronslet - 86'd Katie Hagan-Whelchel Blair King - 86'd Sara Lawson - 86'd Matthew Leeper - 86'd Autumn Maddox - 86'd Yannick Marchand -86 Jennifer McDermott - 86'd Russell Moore - 86'd Katsuji Tanabe - 86'd

Michael Duronslet


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Age: 27

Occupation: Head chef

Birthplace: New Orleans, La.

Hometown: New Orleans, La.

My name is Michael Duronslet. I was born in New Orleans not to far from the French Quarter and the famous Bourbon Street. I grew up with 4 siblings, a sister and 3 brothers. My mom works as a receptionist at a doctor's office and my dad works at the Whitney National Bank as a master chief carpenter.

My parents instilled love, honesty, hard work, and that family is important. But most of all they showed me how to cook! How lucky can you be. growing up cooking a cuisine that people come from around the world to eat like Gumbo, crawfish, Etouffee, etc. I always remember my parents would pull up a chair so I could stir the roux while it was cooking. I've always known our home to be filled with friends and family so there was always something cooking. My mom had control of the stove and oven while my dad boiled crawfish. My brothers and I would be cleaning fish or game and chasing my sister with the remnants. Twenty years later the tradition of family, food and love go on.

Growing up in sportsman's paradise; my past time is hunting and fishing. I catch from deer, Cowan (snapping turtle), alligator, shark, redfish and mahi mahi. I got a chance to experiment with them at home by soaking game in milk to draw the blood and wild taste or concocting my own seasoning to inject into meats, fishes and poultry. Hunting alone showed me how to fillet, chop and skin even before stepping into a classroom.

My wife is from Trinidad, my parents are Creole, my specialty is Italian and my bosses were Arabic so my cooking skills have evolved tremendously over the last five years. I've always loved cooking at home so naturally my major in college was culinary. I didn't think I was skilled enough to work in a kitchen while attending school so I took odd jobs, that I hated, to pay tuition. While attending UNO my wife saw my desire for cooking and how I hated what I had become. She saw a chef from Sclafanis cooking school and asked for a business card. I was too nervous to call so she did. She asked if they had any open positions. That same day I walked in and in 10 minutes and my foot was in the door. I had never been that happy, but that dream was short lived. They soon downsized to one location and there was no room for me.

After that I took more odd jobs and found myself catering on Saturday for my wife's job. They loved it, I couldn't believe they liked my cooking! Eventually my wife's co-worker opened his own restaurant with me in mind. It took him three months to track me down but the executive chef made me the assistant chef on the spot. I was back in the kitchen this time doing my own thing. I did daily specials with my own twist by choosing different spices from around the world. Besides my daily chores of marketing, advertising, placing orders and checking produce, I found a new love. We frequently had regulars that would want to change our set menus so I got a chance to pick people's palettes of what they like to eat whether it was sweet, sour, hot or spicy and create something out of the box they would enjoy.

I don't know how some people feel when they wake up for work but I love it. I feel like a football or basketball superstar; I get paid to do what I love. After five years at Padrino Café the owners took on a new venture and sold the business. I stayed on and on track. I soon took a job with similar responsibilities and re-enrolled in culinary school. Three weeks later I was reading the paper and decided to get the nerve to try out for your show. I hope this summary explains a little about my world and my passion for food.