A Spotlight On Allrecipes Allstar: Dakari Akorede

Football and barbecue superfan Dakari Akorede (@Chef.Chicageaux) shares his story — and his most popular recipe.

Chef Chicageaux
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine

Dakari is one of the 60 million cooks in our Allrecipes community as well as an Allrecipes Allstar.

What is an Allstar? Food bloggers, registered dietitians, and more home cooks (just like you!) make up our enthusiastic squad of 100+ brand ambassadors. This crew of food lovers has submitted thousands of recipes, photos, and reviews over the years, plus shared their cooking expertise all over our website and social channels. In short, they make all of our cooking adventures more successful. Interested in becoming an Allrecipes Allstar? Learn more, and sign up here.

FUN FACT: Dakari has a seasoning collection that rivals most grocery stores—100+ seasoning and spice blends, plus another 25 of his homemade seasonings.

Q&A with Chef Chicageaux

Allrecipes: Tell us about yourself!

Dakari Akorede: I'm a 27-year-old middle school culinary instructor, private chef, teacher of online barbecue classes, and a district operations manager in New Orleans.

AR: What is your food odyssey?

DA: I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and as a child had a passion for food and cooking. I was always a bigger kid, so I struggled with weight and self-confidence for years. In my teens, I fell in love with football and played a few years at Stillman College in Alabama. After my football run was over, I decided to start a weight-loss journey. Prepping meals became my thing, first for me and then for my friends. That's when I realized that food might be my calling.

Chef Chicageaux in New Orleans
Allrecipes Magazine

AR: What is your favorite thing to cook?

DA: All things barbecue and seafood (crab legs, shrimp, salmon).

AR: What kitchen tools can you not live without?

DA: Specialty Japanese knives (because presentation is everything!), my instant-read thermometer (to ensure I cook to the perfect internal temp), and my All-Clad D5 stainless-steel skillet.

AR: What is a recent success you are proud of?

DA: I've had the opportunity to cook for a few private NFL clients. It was extremely nerve-racking at first, but I quickly realized that they are supercool people who enjoy great food.

DA: What is in your fridge?

DA: Steak, pork belly, ribs, chicken, lots of fresh veggies, and homemade stocks.

Dakari's Cooking

There is nothing Dakari loves more than preparing a meal for someone.
He is a firm believer in the mantra “cooking can save the world.” It brings people together who would have never crossed paths and tells a story that words cannot convey. It's obvious that Dakari cooks from the heart—and is the way he connects with his community.


"Enjoy the process and dare to stand out. Break the rules and always be yourself in cooking."


His most popular recipe: "It's my Chicageaux Shrimp and Grits. This is the first recipe I developed after moving to New Orleans. In my first few weeks, I tried many variations of shrimp and grits, some good and some not so good. I wanted elements of heat but also savory notes. So I spent a month researching and developing this recipe to honor my new home," Dakari Akorede says.

Chicageaux Shrimp and Grits
"This is my homage to the city of New Orleans.". Allrecipes Magazine

BBQ And Football

As a kid, Dakari grilled out with his dad and grandfather. And when he got to college, he realized how much he missed good barbecue. So he felt an obligation to use the tools in his box and set about making incredible barbecue. "The feeling I get with each first bite is euphoria," Dakari says. Once he got addicted to learning the art of smoking and grilling, it completely changed his life, and started his budding BBQ obsession.

In college, Dakari manned a barbecue pit at events and became known as "Grill Man" for his football team and fraternity. His first tailgate was for 700 people, and took a week to prep: a few hundred pounds of chicken, beef, and pork. The reviews were great, and a star was born.

"Cooking can be like football. Football takes a lot of preparation behind the scenes —workouts, playbook study, reviewing films, etc. That experience, mixed with trial and error, molded me into the pitmaster that I am today."

There is no question that BBQ and Football go hand in hand. With tailgating spurring abundant food, fellowship, and a tad bit of debauchery, it is usually where old friends rendezvous and new friends are made. So it is only fitting that Dakari met his fiancée, Tia, when his fraternity and her sorority had a cookout. From the moment they met, he knew she would be his wife.

Chef Chicageaux and his fiancée Tia
Chef Chicageaux and his fiancée Tia. Allrecipes Magazine

Learn more about Dakari and what he's cooking in the kitchen!

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