Hai Hospitality today announced the appointment of D/FW native Rhonda McCullar to Chef de Cuisine of Uchi Dallas and upstairs concept Uchibā, effective immediately. Chef McCullar, known for being a vegetarian who creates protein dishes with the skill and deftness of her meat-consuming culinary counterparts, now leads the kitchens of both Uchi and Uchibā in Dallas.
“Rhonda has steadily risen through the ranks at Uchi since she came on board as a stage in 2015, surpassing expectations in every new role she has assumed,” commented Founding Chef and Partner Tyson Cole. “Her compassion and leadership skills are matched only by her talent. I am looking forward to seeing great things from Rhonda in this new role.”
Growing up in Ennis, TX, and South Dallas, cooking with her mother for family get-togethers sparked McCullar’s early passion for feeding people. While she loved being in the kitchen with her mom, Rhonda followed in the footsteps of her mentor, a high school teacher and basketball coach she remains close with today, and became a sixth grade science teacher. She maintained her passion for cooking, but her family needed more financial support after her mother’s death, so McCullar came up with a short-term solution (secure her teacher certification) and a long-term plan (attend culinary school).
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Dallas in 2012, McCullar worked for Marriott before an opportunity to stage at newly launched Uchi arose in 2015. She jumped at the chance and secured a position. Inspired by reducing and reusing kitchen food waste, she looks for ways to incorporate unused ingredients for new dishes. As a vegetarian, McCullar brings a unique perspective, regularly presenting meat- and fish-forward specials as well as vegetarian options. She relies on her keen understanding of flavor profiles, an approach rooted in cooking science, and a savvy ability to read faces, to tweak the recipes she develops.
“To have started my career at Uchi in 2015, and now achieved the role of CDC, is an exciting time in my life,” remarked McCullar. “I’m looking forward to leading our culinary team and creating amazing food and memorable experiences for our guests.”