By Carsen Holaday
Derrell Smith is exactly where he needs to be – and he knows it.
The former NFL athlete and current chef stars in the new Tastemade series Mad Good Food,where he entertains and informs his audience while creating incredible meals full of culture and flavor. Each week, Smith creates a meal that could feed a number of people. He then shows his audience how to make two distinct meals for one using the remains of the original dish. Single viewers will be able to enjoy quality dinners for one, rather than eating the same leftovers over and over again.
“Mad Good Food is cool because it’s relevant,” Smith said. “Hopefully we get out of this pandemic and people will be able to cook for groups. They’ll be able to cook for loved ones, and they’ll be able to cook for friends coming over. So we take a large meal for families and then we take the particles from that recipe and make two solo meals based on those same ingredients.”
Smith’s passion for food is palpable through the screen, and he openly discusses the comfort and healing he has found, and continues to find, in the kitchen.
In 2012, the former linebacker suffered a serious neck injury that ended his career in the NFL. Smith saw the major life change as an opportunity to chase his longtime dream of being a chef, inspired by his family and his love for food.
“Growing up, food was a healer,” Smith said. “I was infused with that love and that intention throughout time spent with my grandma and with my family. This show is important because now I get to spread that on a larger scale.”
After retiring from the NFL, Smith experimented with many recipes – one of which being his now iconic meatball – while working an advertising job in New York. In 2016, he entered the Brooklyn Meatball Takedown, a meatball cooking competition, and won. Later that year, he went on to create 99EATS, LLC, a virtual culinary brand.
In January of 2019, Smith created Amazeballs as a vessel of 99EATS. The brand pays homage to his grandmothers through its logo and through its “OG Sauce” (Original Grandma Sauce.)
Smith doesn’t take this platform for granted. Now located in Los Angeles, the future is bright for his career as a TV personality as well as a chef. Whether through a TV screen, in teaching demo cooking classes for WIC Program recipients, or simply by cooking delicious meals at home for his loved ones, Smith remains dedicated to spreading love through food via his personal stories and joyful energy.
“At the end of the day, I get to teach people something that they can lead with and apply in their own kitchens and their own lifestyles,” Smith said. “I’m glad that Tastemade recognized this opportunity and I’m glad that we were able to make something that is dope and different…I’m very proud of this show.”
Mad Good Food will air on Thursday, April 15, at 8 p.m. on Tastemade. New episodes will air on Tastemade’s streaming network and will be available on demand on the Tastemade+ app. Episodes will be available across platforms like YouTube TV, Samsung TV Plus, VIZIO SmartCast TVs, The Roku Channel, Comcast Xfinity X1, and more.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, amNY