Cook Like A Chef With Tips, Recipes From Local Food Influencers

A smoked turkey from Chef Bernard “Bosshog” Gibson at Smokin’ Pig on H Street N.E. Bernard “Bosshog” Gibson, owner of Smokin’ Pig on H Street N.E. (Courtesy Photo)

By Local Chef Contributions

While the holidays may look or feel a bit different in households around the nation (and world), much of the resiliency of the African American community is found in food and family.  Family, nostalgia and love can be found in the intimacy or solo moments of eating or preparing food.  

Take cues from professionals this season from tasty recipes and tricks from some top D.C. Food Influencers and Chefs.

From Smokin’ Pig to Smokin’ Turkey
Below are tips for a perfectly smoked bird from Bernard “Bosshog” Gibson, owner of H Street N.E.’s Smokin’ Pig.

“Smoke is Turkey’s best friend,” said Chef Bernard “Bosshog” Gibson.  Below is how to smoke a turkey like a pro this Thanksgiving:

  • Fresh bird, not frozen, but absolutely necessary- trust me on this one, you will taste the difference.
  • Brine your bird in cold water overnight, this will give you a moist bird. There’s nothing worse than a dry turkey.
  • Spatchcock, also known as “Butterfly” the bird for optimum smoke and to cook evenly, this will also cut your cooking time. Be sure to cut it down along the spine.
  • Rub it down with olive oil and season the bird evenly. You can season yours to taste, but we don’t hold back with our house made dry rub here at Smokin Pig.
  • Inject the bird with your brine. I use butter cajun seasoning,  This is imperative to optimal flavor and juiciness.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not stuff the bird.
  • Get your fire going.  Clean smoke is a must. We’re cooking at 250 – 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Set the bird on the grill over low heat 225° – 275° Fahrenheit, checking on it every 30-40 minutes, brush melted butter on it sporadically. Let the games begin!
  • Once the breast reaches 165° Fahrenheit, remove, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest about 30 minutes before serving.

Make Sweet Potato Pie like your Nana…
or order one from Mr. Bake!

Kareem “Mr. Bake” is a D.C. based entrepreneur and baker who creates custom cakes, desserts and sweet and savory baked goods. Kareem made his first appearance on the Food Network where he won America’s Best Baker challenge with Bobby Valastro, making history as the first male to win America’s Best Baker challenge. Most recently in February 2020, Mr. Bake appeared on the Food Network’s “Girl Scout Cookie Championship.”

“Just like your grandmother, love is the main ingredient. However, this pie may be better than hers!”

Sweet Potato Pie
For one pie 9” pie

1 (2 Cans) or Large Sweet Potato
3 Tablespoons Sugar
¾ Cups Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Tablespoon Maple syrup
2 Large Eggs
¾ Cups Heavy Cream
¼ Cups Butter Melted
2 Teaspoons Lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1 Teaspoon Salt


  • Roast sweet potato until cooked all the way through
  • Peel the skin off the potato and add it to a large bowl or mixer with paddle attachment.
  • Mix in sugars and spices into the sweet potato.
  • Add in vanilla extract, melted butter, cream and lemon juice
  • Taste batter to see if it needs more sugar
  • Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl then add to the potato mixer.
  • Fill frozen pie crust to the top and bake for 45 minutes until the center is set and not jiggly, and the crust has browned at the edges.

Uncaged Chefs Bacon and Shrimp Mac and Cheese
“Like I always say: No Rules Just Good Food,” said Chef Damian Brown.

Brown and the Uncaged Chefs have been on the rise since they “popped up” with brunch a couple of years ago in Largo.  Now located in District Heights and known for their very over-the-top soul food selections with a nod to African American Urban classics. With his gutsy approach to the culinary arts, it’s no wonder he is planning to expand the business and shorten those lines that wrap around the corner. Below Brown shared a recipe for a decadently, delicious mac and cheese.

1Pound Cooked Pasta
3 Cups Heavy Cream
2 Cups Mozzarella
2 Cups Mild Cheddar
1 Cup Monterey Jack
1 Teaspoon. Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
Tablespoons Chopped Garlic
3 Eggs
1 Cup Chopped Cooked Bacon
1/2 1b cooked shrimp seasoned with Cajun seasoning

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside one cup of cheddar cheese, one cup of mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup bacon.
  • Mix together all ingredients except shrimp and the ingredients you’ve set aside
  • Pour into glass casserole pan
  • Top with additional cheeses
  • Bake 30 – 45 minutes until edges begin to turn brown minutes
  • Top with Shrimp and additional bacon

Let rest for a bit.  Serve!