Derick Carrozza

Dayton, Ohio
Chef Swap Ingredient:
Hot Chili Puree
Cuisine Style:

Derick Carrozza went to a trade school intending to become a mechanic – fixing his vehicles to save himself money and repairing them to make money. Yet, the culinary bug bit him. Instead of getting under cars, he decided to get on grills.


About Derick Carrozza

A redhead has Derick Carrozza smitten. She has Caribbean-blue eyes, and Gerber baby cheeks, and is wearing a yellow onesie with a splash of pink.

The girl of his dreams name is Amillia Anne Carrozza. She was born October 18, 2023, weighing 9 pounds and 11 ounces. She was 21 inches, and she immediately stole his heart while smacking him in the face with this revelation – he can never slip on his chef grind.

For him, success is not an option because it is a necessity. Hard work knows his name, and talent is his papa. Fatherhood is now the primary motivation to manifest the marvels of his culinary heart.

The chef at Filet’s in North Myrtle Beach is still in his early 20s but has a mature man’s attitude about work, responsibility, and being a kind and productive human being. His role as a dad, however, is his most pivotal.

“Being a dad makes me want to work harder knowing that I have a baby to care for now,’’ Carrozza said.

He brightens with joy across his face while holding Amillia and pulling her closer to his chest.

Waffle Wise & Driven

Like Chinese restaurants on holidays, folks looking for grub know they can count on the Waffle House for eats when seemingly every other restaurant is closed. The national chain is known for its quick-turnaround service featuring American breakfast and lunch favorites.

Travelers, partygoers going to or coming from their favorite hot spots, and folks simply wanting hot food head quickly to the Waffle House.

“I was 19 years old when I started working at the Waffle House,’’ said Carrozza, a Dayton, Ohio native who moved to Calabash, N.C., when he was 16.

Stacey Gaston, his mom, did not like her children in the kitchen with her. Nonetheless, Carrozza found ways to maneuver himself into that space as she made chicken alfredo, meatloaf, and other meals he enjoyed.

‘’I would always ease my way in and help as much as I could,'' he said. “I would measure out different ingredients for her, cut up the stuff. I was being her little sous chef.”

His fascination with being in the kitchen started at three and grew from there.

“One of my best memories as a kid was when my cousin and I would go into the kitchen and grab all the pots and pans and act like we were cooking and making different dishes,’’ Carrozza. “It was all pretend.”

Unbeknownst to him then, his authentic experiences with his mother and fantasy adventures with his cousin would birth a reality he never conceived.

He was supposed to be a mechanic and studied at the Greene County Career Center in Dayton.

Waffle House was the paradigm shift.

Carrozza, who can rebuild transmissions and fix anything on his vehicle of choice, had already earned his mechanic credentials before becoming employed at Waffle House.

The folks that hired him wanted him to be a server. Nope.

For starters, he preferred not working directly with customers because of its demand for conversation. Secondly, he wanted to cook – even though he had no genuine skills.

So, he told the Waffle House bosses, “Let me just try to cook. I’m a quick learner.”

In a couple of days, he knew how to do everything. He cooked and prepped most of the time alone.

As the relief manager working the third shift, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., Carrozza encountered and embraced some of the best and worst parts of being a kitchen ninja.

“The more I did it, the more I loved it,’’ he said. “I loved being in the kitchen. I loved everybody telling me how great the food was and being happy about it.”

Yet, just like an over-easy egg, folks flipped on him. He witnessed the crummy facets of the hospitality industry.

“There were crazy people who came in there, screaming and telling me how to cook their food,’’ Carrozza said. “I had a guy yell at me and curse me because of how I put bacon on the grill or didn’t flip eggs fast enough.’’

Despite the occasional drawbacks, the Waffle House prepared him for the basics of cooking and being in the kitchen.

“I come into work every day with the same motivation, with the same work ethic,’’ Carrozza said. “I have days when I am not 100 percent, but I still try to make the most out of those days. If a person is having a bad day, I am not going to let it affect the way my day is going.”

Carrozza had what he needed after about 2 ½ years to strut his know-how on other culinary corners.

And. Just. Like. That.

He went from a 24-hour iconic diner to a casual fine-dining restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Enter Filet’s and newfound exploits.

“Derick came on as a part of our team a year ago,’’ said Filet’s General Manager Britney Bowman. “I immediately noticed that he had a talent for someone so young.”

Love, Grub, & Gifts

Carrozza is a man who embraces vigorous labor.

His first gig was that of a landscaper. He was 16.

“As a kid, I was cutting grass and stuff,’’ he said. “That taught me that hard work comes at a cost. I worked five or six hours a day. It taught me that hard work helps you build a stronger mind.”

His landscaping business assisted in developing the mental and physical strength he needed to enter and successfully pilot the various planes of culinary pursuits.

Fast forward. While still at the Waffle House, Jason Scott, Filet's kitchen manager, and his fiancée's dad, alerted him of an opportunity there.

“He said, ‘You should try out a big kitchen,’’’ Carrozza said.

About six months later, Carrozza was the assistant kitchen manager and a chef at Filet’s.

“Derick is always eager to keep learning and playing with creative flavor profiles,’’ Bowman said. “I always go for his fresh catch. He is always doing something new and innovative with it.”

Some of his finer entrees include grouper piccata served atop risotto and accompanied by a lemon and butter sauce. Another patron pleaser is the seared scallops joined with wilted spinach that rims the bowl with a bed of angel hair pasta scattered in the middle and scallops on top with a lemon butter wine sauce.

“Derick is hardworking and a quick learner,’’ said Celene Flowers, his fiancée and mother of his daughter. “He is good at what he does.”

Flowers is a fan of his chicken piccata and steak. However, she hails him most for his role as father to their daughter.

“He is a really good dad,’’ she said. “He is hands-on, and he helps out as much as he can.”

Flowers has faith in her man and believes he will keep giving gifts to diners through the magnificence of his mind and the flair in his fingers.

“Derick can take very little information and run with it,’’ Flowers said. “He can make his own of anything.”

Carrozza has belief in himself. Even though years of experience aren't in his boast bag, he does have the mettle and affection for his craft to go wherever his gifts take him, as he blesses others along the way.

“As a chef, I am hardworking and understanding,’’ said Carrozza, who has been in the business for nearly five years. “If someone is struggling, I am the one bouncing around and helping people in other positions. I don’t like seeing anyone fail. I want everybody to win.”

This chef is a champ, and knockout food is in every round.

By Johanna Wilson Jones

“As a chef, I am hardworking and understanding. If someone is struggling, I am the one bouncing around and helping people in other positions. I don’t like seeing anyone fail. I want everybody to win.”

Derick Carrozza
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