Chef Creole: How a Kid From Little Haiti Built a Seafood Empire
Indeed, Chef Creole is a very busy man. He owns five take-out restaurants from Miami Gardens to Little Haiti, sells his signature sauces online, and has 13 kids -- with only his wife, he makes very clear.
billwisserphoto.com Pikliz: a spicy mix of pickled shredded cabbage, carrot, onions, shallots and various peppers
But when Sejour graduated from Miami Beach High School, he never imagined food would become his life. In his early 20s, Sejour, who was born in the Bahamas to Haitian parents but relocated to Miami as a child, teamed up with his brother, Jude Pierre. They bought a grill and began cooking Haitian food at festivals. When their mother told them to choose between attending college or launching a business, they opted for the latter. "Everything is arithmetic. You don't need school to make money," he says.
In 1992, the brothers borrowed cash from their granddad and friends to open the first Chef Creole. Located on NE 78th Street, the restaurant operated like a cheap take-away joint focused on volume, not overhead. Six months after opening, it was grossing more than $4,000 per day. The restaurant was a hit.
But five years later, tragedy beset the family. Jude Pierre passed away. In mourning, Sejour and his business became stagnant. The restaurant neither shrank nor grew. Then the chef immersed himself in a test kitchen to search for a signature Chef Creole flavor.
Eventually, Sejour struck gold. He mastered a blend of seasonings with Scotch bonnet peppers, onion, and spices. He bottled it and promoted it as a new product. Sales swelled. With the extra money, he debuted more restaurant locations.