Regent University freshman Daniel Smith, lovingly called “Cheesy D” by his companions, is making a name for himself on campus with his culinary skills. The local 18-year-old from Chesapeake, Virginia, has been wowing his fellow students with his delicious and creative dishes, all made without a recipe.
Smith, majoring in business, discovered his passion for cooking at around age six. He grew up watching his mother in the kitchen, but it wasn’t until he started experimenting with her guidance that he realized how much joy he could bring others with his cooking. “I love seeing people’s reaction when they like a dish,” he says. “It’s a great feeling.”
Since arriving at Regent University, Smith has become known among his dorm mates for masterfully combining flavors and textures to create dishes that are as visually stunning as they are delicious. He enjoys using fresh ingredients and trying different flavor combinations, often using spices and seasonings he’s never used. When asked what he used to make a dish, “Cheesy D” gives his infamous, “Don’t worry about it” reply.
“Daniel’s cooking is off the chart,” says his classmate, Luke Pollard. “He never does the same thing twice, and it’s always amazing. He’s just that guy.” As spring blooms, word is spreading about how Smith’s culinary skills are reminiscent of Claude Monet. With a keen eye for color, taste, and texture, Smith’s plates are like vibrant springtime paintings, leaving a lasting impression on all who are fortunate enough to taste them. I personally love Smith’s “Bacon Mac N’ cheese.” The perfect blend of complex spices added a fiery, zesty flavor to the dish that took it to the next level.
Despite his success in the kitchen, Smith admits he still has much to learn. “I’m always trying to improve my skills and learn new techniques,” he says. “I watch a lot of cooking videos online and try to replicate what I see, with a twist, of course.”
Many of Cheesy D’s dish ideas have yielded the Smith thumbs up of approval, however, he always strives to improve. He admits that a few plates along the way were not his favorite, including a coffee rub for a steak and a rice and vegetable side because it didn’t agree with the seasonings. It’s evident that he knows that the cost of producing an excellent and unique dish often means taking risks. “Cooking with what I have on hand comes with some challenges at times,” he says. “For the most part, though, it works out pretty well.”
Daniel’s love for cooking has even inspired him to cook for people living in Constitution Hall. From perfectly seasoned fried chicken to shrimp with Old Bay and butter garlic sauce, nothing limits Cheesy D’s repertoire of meals.
For now, Smith is focused on his studies and continuing to perfect his cooking skills. He hopes to one day combine his love for cooking with his business knowledge to create a successful culinary venture, but for now, he’s content pioneering his own dishes and sharing them with friends.