Don Maloney began cooking at around 10 years old. When he was not playing guitar (he was almost always playing guitar!), he would mess around in the kitchen, usually without a recipe, combining ingredients, and … hoping for the best. He especially enjoyed combining flavors to create something amazing that he had not tasted before. He also took advantage of the variety of great restaurants that Chicago had to offer.
One night, while enjoying a family dinner at an Italian restaurant sometime in 1995, Don, with no prior warning, in fact, it was mid lasagna, became vegetarian and later, vegan. Vegan options were rare in Chicago during the 90s. Out of necessity, Don began to really focus on cooking for himself. While his original career was music, he also worked in restaurants as a way to pay bills and took advantage of this time as an opportunity to learn from some pretty great chefs. He fell in love with Chicago’s diverse international community and the cuisine they brought, and instantly gravitated towards Thai, Indian, Mexican, South Korean, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cuisine, among others.
In 2010, Don learned that due to food intolerances, he would have to eliminate soy and gluten. As a result, Don focused on eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, and decided that expanding his knowledge by studying at a plant-based culinary school would be the best next step. Don's courses included Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine, and Advanced Raw Cuisine with MKC, and Culinary Nutrition, Essentials of Superfoods, and Fundamentals of Cooking with PLC. After completing his studies, Don went on to be a culinary instructor for both MKC and PLC and worked as the Director of Online Education for PLC.
Don is the executive chef and owner of The Wild Chickpea, and is proud and excited to bring his unique take on plant-based street food and gourmet plant-based catering to Arizona and beyond!