Chef Cleophus Hethington, a South Florida native, grew up around the table, eating and cooking delicious soul food — food that would eventually shape his culinary trajectory: flavors, ingredients and dishes from the African diaspora, a term that’s often used to reflect the mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades, which occurred from the 1500s to the 1800s. “You’re part of the African diaspora whether you’re from the West Indies or you’re African-American, Afro-Latino, from one of the 54 countries in Africa or you’re an African living in Europe,” explains Hethington. “We’re all part of that. That’s my idea: really focusing on African diasporic food and the connections we all have.”
A natural-born home cook, the Atlanta-based chef, affectionately known as “Ophus,” began his career in the U.S. Navy, where he served five years as a hospital corpsman, as well as the crew’s unofficial kitchen magician. Hethington’s colleagues loved his food.
Hethington went on to graduate with a degree in public health from the University of Miami, but soon became disenchanted with America’s disintegrating healthcare system. So he pivoted to his passion: cooking. He became a student at the Miami Culinary Institute at Miami Dade College, where an astute cooking instructor recognized Hethington’s talent and encouraged him to apply for an internship at the James Beard-nominated Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, a restaurant that also received a “Best New Restaurant” award from Bon Appétit. The internship morphed into a job offer, and Hethington ditched culinary school, realizing he was better suited to the school of hard knocks .
Ębí Chop Bar
Following his stint at Yardbird, Hethington cooked at acclaimed restaurants across the country, including the Cypress Room, Jean-George NYC, Matador Room by Jean-George inside the Miami Beach Edition Hotel, Four Seasons Surf Club, The Optimist ATL and Lazy Betty. In 2017, he graced the Atlanta foodscape with Ębí Chop Bar, a pop-up dinner series celebrating the cuisines of the African diaspora. This space is ideal for writing a detailed description of your business and the types of services that you provide. Talk about your team and your areas of expertise.
In 2019, inspired by a growing interest in his ancestral and cultural roots, coupled with a fierce curiosity about the origins of the dishes and ingredients used for generations by his family and other Black chefs, Hethington, whose African roots trace back to Cameroon and Senegal by way of southern Georgia and the Caribbean, launched Triangular Traded Spices, an online boutique spice emporium.
Africa and its people are resilient, having always displayed their fortitude and influence while shaping world history through food, music, wars and revolting against oppression. Triangular Traded Spices honors the diversity of the African diaspora and its families and communities through its thoughtfully sourced, small-batch, organic, versatile and unabashedly bold handcrafted spice blends that elevate all stages of your cooking.
I believe that while pure ingredients speak for themselves, fresh, vibrant, high-quality spice blends bring them to life. I created my Triangular Traded Spice blends to show you — the home cook — just how essential our seasonings are to transforming your own dishes.