How Pitbull’s Former Manager Is Building a Mac and Cheese Empire in Miami
Chef Derrick Turton is here to deliver the comfort you need.
We could all use a little comfort right now. Luckily for everyone, Chef Derrick Turton is here to deliver — literally.
If you've spent any time in Miami over the last few years you're likely already familiar with Turton's work. He founded the World Famous House of Mac, first as a food truck in 2014, then as a small chain around the city in the years following. But what you may not know is the incredible backstory to how this delicious Miami culinary institution came to be.
"I had aspirations to be a chef. And then I worked my first job in a restaurant and I kind of hated it," Turton says of his first foray into the food industry at a rather well-known chain that shall remain nameless. However, while working in the restaurant, Turton met Daymond John, the founder of FUBU and shark on Shark Tank. Through this connection, Turton was able to snag a gig as a club promoter in town, a job he happily took to get out of the kitchen.
In his new role, Turton collected his own fanbase of music industry insiders, which led to a chance gig with rapper Pitbull in the late '90s and early 2000s, who loved Turton so much that, years later, he made him his manager. But even then, as the manager to one of the biggest music stars in the world, Turton still found himself cooking for people in the studio, delivering bites of his mac and cheese recipes, pasta, sandwiches, and more.
"I managed people for 14 years," Turton says, adding it was a joyful job, but it still felt like something was missing. And then, his father fell ill, which upended everything once again. Turton flew home to try and see his father for one last moment, but upon arrival in Detroit, realized he was simply too late.
"My father passed away in 2013 suddenly. And that was a moment where I just started asking myself hard questions," he says. "I sat with him in the room for a couple of hours, and then just felt the finality of death. And I just asked myself tough questions, like, 'What is my legacy?' Because at that point, my legacy was just basically helping contribute to building other people's legacy, but I didn't really own much. My legacy was building other people's legacy."
So, he went back to his roots.
"The only other thing that I actually loved besides music was food," he says. And when his good friend rapper UGK encouraged him to take the leap of faith and get back to cooking, he knew he had to do it. Only this time, he'd do it his way, in his own space, with his own recipes.
"He was the one that actually told me, 'Listen, I know you're doing really well with music. I know you're good. But, if you don't take this cooking thing seriously, you're never going to forgive yourself.'"
To Turnton, the worst that could happen is that it wouldn't work out — but he had to try. So he started with that humble food truck, serving up a few mac and cheese delights infused with the diversity of Miami, including dishes inspired by Cuban, Haitian, Venezuelan, and other flavors. Then, he opened up a brick-and-mortar store to serve even more hungry patrons. And then another, and in 2021, is planning to open his third destination, just to keep the people happy.
"This is the first thing that I've done that is 100% me. I'm steering the ship," he says. "That's where it's going. And it's just gratifying."
Though the pandemic has slowed Turton down just a bit, he's still cooking away, delivering meals to first responders, and now, delivering everyone's favorite comfort food around the nation, too.
"With COVID, people stopped coming, especially the first few months. We had to find a way to get to people. So, we started freezing mac and cheese [and] shipping it. And now we ship to all 50 states," Turnton says of the new service. "If ever anyone needed comfort it's right now, and Mac and cheese is just one of those dishes."
That means you can get jerk chicken mac and cheese, five cheese truffle mac and cheese, vegan mac and cheese, and so much more, delivered right to your door. And trust us, it tastes extra delicious because it's a dish born from ambition and pure heart. And to honor that, Turton even made his father's image the label of the House of Mac, which you'll see on every product he sells.
"There's a certain wealth that just comes with it," Turnton says of living out his dreams and getting to share them with you. "I don't even think you could put a price on it because beyond everything else, I'm just happy — happy what I'm doing. I'm happy."
See the full menu and order yourself a tasty dinner tonight here.
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