Chef Creole: How a Kid From Little Haiti Built a Seafood Empire
Wilkinson Sejour plunks his brawny arms on a paper-scattered desk, grins mischievously, and asks his buddy, who's smoking a blunt, to fetch him a Corona. It's a Wednesday at 11 a.m., and Sejour's cell phone rings every five minutes. When he answers, his words jumble Calle Ocho slang with Kreyol patois: "Oye, asereje, not now." "Bonjour, monsieur." "Alo?"
billwisserphoto.com Wilkinson Sejour, AKA Chef Creole
After six calls, he locks his phone, hurls it onto the table, and throws his arms up. Sejour -- a Haitian restaurateur, caterer to stars such as Jay-Z and Pitbull, and self-financed cooking show host -- smirks like a kid who gets away with everything.
"Sorry about that," he says. "This is just how I roll."
See also: Chef Creole's response to this review
Earlier that day, a light rain smacked West Dixie Highway and glazed Chef Creole's small parking lot. A woman, her hair coiled beneath a vibrant turban, approached me. I told her I was there for the chef.
"You five minutes early!" she blurted out. "He told you 10:30. He be here 10:30."
At 10:30, a silver Mercedes sedan puttered into the vacant lot. Sejour, a 43-year-old with a shaved head and glowing skin, emerged from the car's leather interior. He led me through his office -- three rooms cluttered with memorabilia: an apron signed by Magic Johnson and plaques from local schools thanking Chef Creole for sponsorships. Whether they refer to the man or the restaurant is unclear.
Chef Creole grew up poor and made it big -- cutting corners and walking that fine line between successful entrepreneur and street hood. How did a kid from Little Haiti, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Miami-Dade, build an empire without a college degree or help from the bank?
Sejour burst into thunderous laughter.
"This isn't an empire," he said. "This is a fucking nightmare."