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Dontrell Ham

Norcross, United States

Executive Chef/GM at Hi Life Restaurant


At the young age of twenty-eight, the South Carolinian started his cooking as early as nine years old. Dontrell is the Executive Chef/GM of Hi Life Restaurant in Norcross, GA. He has been with them for 5 years now. Throughout his younger years, he knew he had a calling to be a chef with his last name being Ham. His family’s support helped him to open up his culinary mind to new things, which enabled him to tour Johnson & Wales University campus in Charleston, S.C. until graduating from high school. Dontrell had many ventures in catering, planning small functions with friends and family, and personal reading, until 2002 when he started his journey with Johnson & Wales University. Graduating from Johnson & Wales University proved a key component in his culinary path. His many chefs and professors encouraged independent mindsets, key leadership, quality awareness, and determination. He was offered the opportunity to study abroad in Belgium and Paris for International Hotel Operations, where culture adaptability was the focus. Johnson & Wales opened up many options: independent catering company jobs, PGA Tour work, many food shows, and the chance to showcase his culinary style. An alumnus of the final graduating class of the Charleston campus, Dontrell uses all that he has learned from Johnson & Wales to achieve the most out of each work path. His first job chance to shine started with House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, SC under Chef Bob Capegreco where he was mentored on managing a full grill and every aspect of the line. Grill 225 in Charleston, SC opened opportunities to play with more exotic foods and the luxury aspect of culinary. 11 Center Street Wine and gourmet in Folly Beach, SC was his first Chef position where the focus was on catering, which after three years there, ushered him to work with Columbia Sussex Corporation in Myrtle Beach, SC; Atlantic City, NJ; Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Ft. Myers, FL. Columbia Sussex’s managing style put Dontrell on the road in takeover and conversion properties where he managed food and beverage aspects of restaurant and banquet departments in 2005-06. He achieved banquet manager status within one year of his hire and became a big influence in regional changes for the company. After three years with Columbia Sussex he tried some partnerships that were learning experiences, until moving to Atlanta in 2008. In Atlanta he worked creating specialty recipes for a Boarshead independent distributor until 2009 where he began working with Hi Life from lead cook to the Executive Chef position. Dontrell’s out of the box take on food grew exponentially with the owner’s backing. He is forever reading and finding new ways to achieve what he deems his best of his craft. Continually growing with the Hi Life brand, Dontrell has created a following for his culinary style that is known amongst his guests. Dontrell now wears two hats as Chef and GM, after eight grueling professional years, where he hopes to continue educating people, learning from others and growing with the industry to become an all around industry leader.


Norcross, United States