Chef and Restaurateur Dontaye Ball
Dontaye Ball (also known as Mr. Gumbo) is the chef and owner of Gumbo Social based in San Francisco, California. The California native is on a mission to make gumbo the official dish of the United States.
Dontaye has been serving build-your-own gumbo, po’boys, and more classic soul food at Bay Area farmers markets since 2019 and is set to open his first Gumbo Social brick-n-mortar in the spring of 2023 in San Francisco’s Bayview District where foodies can have this delicious pot of flavors as often as they like and their way want it with daily add-on ingredient options.
His love of gumbo started as a child with his grandmother who taught him the fundamentals of cooking and instilled his commitment to service and serving others in him at a young age. “My grandmother is from Mississippi and she would always tell stories of the classic Sunday dinner. She grew up on a farm, so early on I was able to understand what food meant to her,” he says during the episode.
Gumbo would become the focus of his culinary career when creating menu items for the concessions at the University of California at Berkeley. After suggesting that it go on the menu, his business partner challenged him to make the best gumbo he knew how. The challenge was accepted and from then on he became very intentional with how the creation of the roux and the ingredients sourced and used.
When asked why gumbo? He shares, “Gumbo to me is the most important dish to American culture. It’s a true melting pot dish I think. It’s a merge and meld of cultures. The dish itself and the core of it, okra, orginated from Africa and brought here through the slave trade. And very much like how jazz music was created, it’s a mix of cultures; Creole and the French and you had all the people melding together and playing music together, to me that is how gumbo was really created.”
Be sure to listen to hear more about Dontaye’s thoughts on gumbo in this episode and then be sure to follow Gumbo Social for details leading up to opening day, events and more on Instagram.