This Black chef in Akron, Ohio, is cooking up a long list of celebrity clients.
Dion Millender turned his passion for cooking into a successful business after word spread, prompting the former principal of Firestone High School, Ken Jones, to sample the crispy egg rolls he prepared for his working family class.
According to Akron Beacon Journal, Millender is a self-taught private chef who started his own culinary business, Shaboys, after graduating from high school in 2005. The crispy appetizer that he researched in a library and purchased ingredients from an Asian market, received rave reviews and led celebrities to the chef’s recipes.
After he won the LaunchTown LaunchChef Award in 2018, Millender was encouraged to chase his dream.
Entrepreneurship is alive and well in NE Ohio! https://t.co/5yAP1vRNCT
— LaunchTown (@LaunchTownEXP) April 17, 2018
“I fell in love with pretty much the reaction I got from cooking,” Millender said. “That’s really what sparked my interest.”
“I don’t cook from technique. I cook from love. I cook from smell. I cook from how I feel, so you can tell the difference when you taste it. [I want customers to think], ‘This person really put a lot of thought and care into this process,’ as opposed to just going straight by the book and just cooking strictly by the book,” he added.
Millender has grown a clientele of professional athletes that include several Cleveland Cavaliers and Browns players.
“I recommend him to all the athletes or anybody really who needs a chef,” Cavaliers star forward Evan Mobley told the Beacon Journal. “That’s the guy to go to.”
“He has a wide range,” Browns safety John Johnson III said. “He can do breakfast. He can do meal preps ― healthy stuff. He can do non-healthy stuff.”
“I always try to figure out unique ways to make things, different ways to set me apart ’cause I know the food industry is saturated with a lot of people. I always try to do things that stand out and make sure that you can only go to Shaboys when you want this item,” Millender said.
The award-winning chef shared that social media played a huge part in his growth and success.
“Content is king, and content is pretty much how I make a living,” said Millender, who has two eight-year-old daughters, Kennedy and Kamari.
Each client recommended Millender to a new client and other celebrities connected online. To date, his clientele includes Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr., pro boxer Montana Love, Cavs legend Campy Russell, former Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins, Cavaliers team dietitian and nutritionist Kylene Bogden, and Shanique Drummond of the Bravo reality show Married to Medicine: Los Angeles.
Millender is reportedly set to cater Thanksgiving meals for the Cavs on their flight to Milwaukee, where they will play the Bucks on Nov. 25.
He hopes his passion leads him to appear on Food Network and open his own restaurant.