Gumbo is nothing new for Chef Dontaye of Gumbo Social. His grandma first served it to him when he was eight, and it made a deep impression. He recalls her cooking the roux slowly with a wooden spoon in a cast-iron skillet. As soon as the gumbo was ready, he remembers his neighbors eagerly gathering for a taste. He never forgot his first bowl. And over the years he learned to blend his knowledge of traditional African stews with his classic French Escoffier training. He learned the basics—the gumbo guidelines, if you will—and then learned how to break them. To Chef Dontaye, gumbo equals jazz—in that a lot of different players contribute, but no two solos are the same. He firmly believes that the pot should taste as the cook is feeling at that moment. And right now, he’s feeling better than ever.