Team Member Spotlight | Kent Smith
Meet The Team | Kent Smith
Growing up in New Mexico in a family of five kids, Kent loved helping his mom in the kitchen. She encouraged him to embrace his love of entertaining at a young age and then follow his dreams to attend cooking school in Dallas after high school. It was there that he quickly realized that he preferred the front of the house to the back. After graduating from an F&B management program, he moved to Taos, NM, where at just 20 years old, he became an F&B director for a chains of popular coffee shops.
After a few years in coffee, he moved back to Texas and took a job at a small Lubbock-based boutique catering company called Tastebuds. He fell in love with catering and later bought Tastebuds from his boss. He ran (and ADORED) Tastebuds for 10 years, really honing his entertaining style, innate sense of design, and unique aesthetic. It was here that he mastered his innovative “eat with your eyes first” philosophy. In fact, under his direction, Tastebuds became known just as much for their art style and presentation as they did the quality of their food and service.
After 10 years in the small-town catering world, Kent attended a catering convention in Washington, DC, and fell in love with the energy of the city. As part of his visit, he toured Design Cuisine and was hooked. Within 8 months, he had sold his business and moved across the country to take a job at renowned caterer Ridgewells in 2000. Kent then moved over to Design Cuisine, where his shared passion for design and presentation has flourished for nearly two decades (he’ll mark his 19th anniversary in November 2021!)
Over the course of his career, Kent’s business strategy has evolved to focus on three pillars: building long-term relationships with nonprofits through annual fundraisers, creating thematic parties that feel like magical experiences, and building a social business clientele out of the successful gala business that he runs.
A few of Kent’s favorite things …
- Weekly restaurant outings with friends — While this was put on pause during COVID, he can’t wait to get back to trying all the best new places.
- Annual trips abroad — He loves to travel and is hoping to tackle Asia next with a jaunt to either Bangkok or Thailand.
- Southern food — It feels like home to him, especially comfort dishes like mac and cheese and hush puppies.
- Family — He remains very close to his five brothers and sisters.
What COVID meant to him …
- He missed having a social outlet and craved interaction with friends, family, and clients.
- He missed the camaraderie of his Design Cuisine team.
- He found it very interesting to observe the pivot of the DC events community and is proud to be part of the solution and the new path forward at Design Cuisine.
- He became a Netflix junkie and LOVES period dramas like Bridgerton and Versailles.
If he had a crystal ball, in 5 years he sees …
- Business has bounced back, and he’s happily selling parties and designing experiences at Design Cuisine.
- He’s mentoring the next generation of salespeople and event coordinators on design, décor, and thinking “outside the box.”
- He’s teaching educational workshops on station and tabletop design.