When Yo Gotti, N.O.R.E., Bun B and other rap heavy-hitters get the munchies in the studio, they know who to call: Derrick “Chef Teach” Turton. After managing Pitbull for more than a decade, the 42-year-old foodie left music -- but not his network of hungry hip-hop greats -- in 2015 to open his Miami mac and cheese-focused food truck World Famous House of Mac. This May, the popular soul food eatery celebrates its third anniversary, counting the A$AP Mob and Waka Flocka Flame among its regulars.
For Turton, the switch isn't as surprising as it seems. Drawn to the therapeutic quality of preparing a meal, he attended culinary school in South Florida back in the '90s: “I’ve always been able to just go into a kitchen and lose myself,” he explains over the phone from Miami. But after his first chain restaurant gig left him feeling exhausted and undervalued, he turned to the thrills of working as a promoter at the local Club Amnesia instead. “I came out of a kitchen -- 400, 500 degrees -- and then I’ve got free passes to the club, I’m socializing, I loved it,” he recalls. Landing his first record label job in marketing for Luke Records in the early 2000s, Turton clicked with then-signee Pitbull, and in 2003 became manager to the “buddy for life” he now calls simply “Pit.”
But Turton never stopped cooking, often whipping up comfort food for industry elites at home barbecues. As his reputation for drool-worthy plates grew, friends like Bun B requested tubs of Turton’s lobster mac and cheese, wings and other specialties in the studio: “It became a ritual,” Turton remembers. He threw a special dinner when Pitbull signed to Sony; sometimes, he even catered music video shoots, serving Thai-style chicken inside pineapples on set for Pitbull and Chris Brown's 2014 collab "Fun."