Before I moved to LA, I was the opening executive chef (2011-2014) of jm Curley Barroom and Bogie's Place Steakhouse in Boston. This is where I earned my chops and first offered my cuisine—rustic American food cooked for the soul. I grew from cook to chef, made a big splash with sustainable junk food, stepped-up my eco-friendly business game, joined the Chefs Collaborative and honed my skills as a writer. I worked really hard—no harder than any other passionate chef—and underwent a great deal of personal growth.
I’m Samuel Monsour—third generation chef, cookbook author and food activist.
My passion for sustainability, application of modern technique and devotion to cooking with soul are staples throughout my interpretation of regional Southern cuisine. I'm a hard-core East Coaster (Raleigh, New York, Boston) but I currently reside in Downtown Los Angeles where I'm the Executive Chef / Partner of Preux & Proper and South City Fried Chicken, the Local Leader for Chefs Collaborative and a proud member of Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force.
My cooking has received acknowledgment and acclaim from many great American food institutions, including “James Beard Foundation,” “Eater,” “American Culinary Federation” and “Zagat."
I believe that chefs have a great responsibility to the people they feed and the environment from which they source their food. Sustainability has truly been the guiding light throughout my career. It's given my life's work great purpose and continues to keep me challenged. It's allowed me to continue learning from great chefs while working with world class organizations. And, something that's OBV but def not said enough: Good Food—food that begins with unpolluted air, land, and water, environmentally sustainable farming and fishing, and humane animal husbandry—tastes way better!
I love to use food and cooking as a way to entertain, whether its while cooking for folks during dinner service at my restaurant or its building a gypsy hotel for 120 campers at Burning Man! I also love the bright lights, the camera and the action involved with filming television. I've competed on a handful of Food Network show including Guy's Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen, and made cooking appearances on The Untitled Action Bronson Show (Viceland), Man Find's Food (Travel Channel), Food Paradise (Travel Channel), Home & Family (Hallmark) and Hollywood Cycle (E!).
Let's go way back...
My passion for food began early on, and roots from a childhood spent cooking alongside—and eating with—my Pops. In fact, as far back as my memory goes, food has been the most exciting thing in my life. As a child, I would wake up at midnight and sneak out of my bedroom so I could greet my Pops as he came home from work. At that time, he was the Executive Chef/Owner of an American Bistro in Lake George, NY (The Covered Bridge Inn). He would bring home tasty little morsels for us to share like ribeye, lobster, and pheasant—ah, the 80′s. Our midnight snacks together are some of my earliest and fondest food memories, and still hold tradition to this day.
At age thirteen, I began working at my folks' restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Bud & Eb’s). It was an American Bar & Grill known for great sandwiches and beer. Being from New York, this was the first time that my father and I explored the southern bounty, and we quickly fell in love with all of its rich flavors and heritage. By the time I was seventeen, I was head cook, and our dinner menu had a funky southern spread spanning cuisine from the Carolinas all the way down to Texas, with a big pit-stop in New Orleans. We were rockin' out Crawfish Étouffée, Barbecued Pork, Red Beans & Rice, Cuban Sandwiches, Smoked Andouille Plates, Fried Fish, Tortilla Soup, Cajun Crab Cakes, Pop's Burgers, Mom's Apple Crisp and so much more. The only frills were in the toothpicks. It was down-home cooking; True grit American food. Check out some of my dishes at Preux & Proper...
After high school, I attended college at The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY), and graduated on January 21, 2005, receiving an A.O.S. in Culinary Arts and a B.P.S. in Hospitality Management. While studying and living in New York, I worked in the catering industry (Main Course Catering). The owner was a fellow CIA grad and took me under his wing, showing me the ropes, teaching me the tricks of the trade, and "insert one more cliche statement here." I did catering all throughout the Hudson Valley for four years, learning everything I ever wanted to know about running a successful catering business. Many thanks to Bruce and Hugh.
At this point, I was ready for a something big, and I was hungry to expand my knowledge of American cuisine, so I embarked upon an eighteen month culinary expedition throughout the United States. From an impulsive series of one-way plane, train and bus tickets, I visited over twenty-five cities, picked up work in dozens of establishments, met hundreds of people, and tasted an immeasurable amount of American culture. One of my most impressionable experiences occurred during a two week camping trip throughout Bourbon country with my Pops; we stopped at a joint called Rick's White Light Diner in Frankfort, Ketucky. Rick was such an incredible man. He was a fellow CIA grad, and he spent his entire afternoon feeding us and sharing his personal life stories. I needed to run into a down-to-earth chef like Rick. In many ways, he inspired me to take pride in the comforting cuisine that I grew up learning how to cook. I still crave his famous crawfish pie. Thanks Rick.
My last one-way ticket was for Boston, where the restaurant scene captured my interest, and the girl next-door (now my wife) captured my heart. It took me several years to obtain my own professional kitchen in Boston. I pursued my dream in a nonconventional fashion and it has been an extremely humbling process. As a chef, the decisions I’ve made in life and the experiences to follow have shaped my cuisine into what it is today. My exposure to America’s vast repertoire of regional preparations and specialties constantly influences my cooking. I deeply value the power of food. I respect the impact that our food choices have on our lives, the earth, and the lives of what we chose to eat. Respecting food and life, and how one cannot exist without the other is a tenet I highly honor, and it's what keeps me inspired to always cook with love, care and integrity.