Chef Derek Small

Derek Small is the Executive Chef/Director of Training at Troop Cafe; he was born in London, England in 1964 and moved to the United States in 1975. Derek attended New York City University where he received a degree in Business Management in 1984. Derek also received a Master certificate in Lean Six Sigma and is a designated black belt from Villanova University in 2012. 

Derek joined the United States Navy in 1988 as a Culinary Specialist; while in the Navy he attended Johnson and Whales University in Providence, Rhode Island in 1996 and received a degree in Culinary Arts. A few of Derek’s distinguished accomplishments while serving in the Navy include a Combat Action Ribbon, three Navy Achievement Medals, two Navy-Marine Commendation Medals, designation as a Master Training Specialist, designation as a Recruit Division Commander and Navy Food Inspector. Throughout his 20-year naval career, Derek led food service operations for many countries, presidents, and dignitaries. He was also temporarily assigned to the Naval War College and was hand selected to be an Admirals Culinary Specialist. 

Training has been Derek's number one priority in food service. He worked as a Culinary Operations Manager for Goodwill Industries and led a training team that trained over 2000 individuals with barriers to employment within the food service industry with 80% receiving competitive employment. Derek was also responsible for the food operations at Deerwood Crossing Senior Residences, which provides housing for assisted/independent living for individuals. The Deerwood operation helped Goodwill’s expansion of Food Services mission-based operations within the Milwaukee area.  

Derek has been the guest speaker at Discovery World, the Food and Beverage Association and several High Schools. He sits on the Board of Directors of the American Culinary Federation Milwaukee Chapter as President. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Education Foundation/ ProStart Advisory Sub-committee and Member of MATC Advisory Board. Derek is a registered ServSafe instructor and Proctor with the National Restaurant Association; He managed Goodwill’s booth at the annual WRA Midwest food service expo showcasing Goodwill’s food service training program to thousands of attendees. Derek is also a judge at the ProStart competition during the WRA food expo. He was nominated for ACF Milwaukee Chef of the year 2015/2016 and is ACF Chefs of Milwaukee 2017 Chef of the year. Derek was inducted into the Les Amis d’Escoffier Society of Chicago on March 12th, 2017. In October of 2017, Derek moved from Goodwill to the Center of Veterans Issues taking on the role of Executive Chef/ Director of Training at Troop Café where he plans to duplicate what he did at Goodwill. Troop Café is a not for profit café that provides food service and hospitality training to United States Veterans while serving delicious, high-quality meals to the public. The mission is to get as many homeless Veterans and Veterans that need that helping hand to get back on the road to independence and to sustain employment within the community.  

Derek is committed to the Mission “you donate, we train, and they work". 

Derek is married to his wonderful wife Maria, has four kids, and lives in Racine Wisconsin.