Chef Daniel Bouza
Since early 2020, renowned chef and former owner/chef of PokeBao, Daniel Bouza has been showcasing his extensive culinary talents and unique flavor in the private sector by offering caterings specifically tailored to his clients’ plates in the comfort of their own homes. In addition, Chef Bouza also recently co-founded ChefSmoke, a chef-driven manufacturer and distributor of products for smoking and grilling. Under the ChefSmoke family of products is the newest outdoor cooking sensation, The Barrel, a unique roaster which combines the best of barbecuing and smoking in a sleek barrel design. Chef Bouza brings over a decade of hands-on culinary experience and elite training and education to ChefSmoke and The Barrel.
Prior to co-founding ChefSmoke and The Barrel, Bouza has opened numerous restaurants across the globe and gained a wealth of culinary experience under his belt after many years of working alongside some of the most highly respected chefs. In 2009, Chef Bouza left his hometown of Miami, Florida, to pursue his passion and start his culinary training at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City with an eye on employment at the famed Gotham Bar & Grille. Bouza spent three months shelling chickpeas for free at the famed New York eatery before his wish came true and he began working as a line cook. Shortly thereafter, Chef Bouza moved on to BLT Bar & Grill in New York City’s Financial District. It was there where he met The Food Buddha, the late Chef Rogelio Aglibot, and began working as a consultant with the acclaimed “toque,” opening multiple restaurants across the world.
Missing the kitchen, Bouza then decided to take the Head Chef position at The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek, Colorado. After a year working on the slopes of Beaver Creek Mountain, he took a trip to Hawaii on a whim and the beauty and magic of the island of Lana’i lured him stay. He then had a great run as the Sous-chef at Nobu Lana’i and discovered his deep passion for Hawaiian-style and Asian-inspired foods such as poke bowls and bao buns.
In 2015, Chef Bouza found his way back to Miami and worked under Makoto Okuwa at his upscale, Japanese namesake eatery in Bal Harbour and then decided to concentrate on his dream project, PokéBao. Inspired by a tiny surf shack in Lana’i that served poké to guests lining around the block, PokéBao was born when Bouza had the idea to combine two delicious appetizers – poke bowls and bao buns – and serve them in a fast casual setting environment.
ChefSmoke and The Barrel were founded in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 global health pandemic as a result of a trip that Bouza took with old-time friend and now business partner, Diego A. Londono, to Colombia. Chef Bouza was immediately intrigued by the cooking methods used in Colombia as well as the sweet and robust flavor of coffee wood, which is widely used there for flavoring, browning and preserving meats. He began experimenting with the cooking methods and smoking meats with coffee wood and soon realized he had discovered his newest venture in his culinary career as he knew he had to introduce the unique methods and flavors of Colombia to the United States. As a result of Bouza’s drive to bring all he had learned in Colombia to the US and Londono’s passion for cooking as well as his family’s plentiful coffee farms, the two decided to cofound ChefSmoke and The Barrel and a beautiful partnership resulted.