Fit to Serve is presented by The Transcend Foundation.

Some people may find it intimidating to be in rooms with national or world leaders, but Chef Daniel Thomas is not one of them. As a matter of fact, he thrives in those situations. Throughout his career, he has crossed paths with numerous people that many of us have only seen on television or online. Being in these rooms align with his personal commitment to making as big of a difference as he can.

“I truly want to just change the world.”

Thomas is a former Head Chef for the United States Senate at the United States Capitol. He has cooked and served five US Presidential families, over 100 Foreign Heads of State and Congressional leadership, where he also managed their diets. Currently, Thomas works as a Private Chef focused on nutrition, for members of Congress, military leaders, celebrities, and many others. Thomas is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, but his connections to cooking started much earlier in his life. His late father was a pastor that had also served in the United States Air Force, but Thomas said he was the culinary expert in the family. Some of his earliest memories include ladies of the church he went to speaking to him as if he was a chef. By the time he had reached middle school, he had no doubts about what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“I actually have letters from the seventh grade about what I wanted to cook for the President of the United States. I had also talked about how I wanted to go to space.”

Chef Daniel Thomas giving a speech.
Chef Daniel Thomas

His pursuit of changing the world “one taste bud at a time” began when he had the opportunity to cook for the chairman of the Boeing Company at the age of 14. By 16, he had cooked for the late Colin Powell. “I realized that you could have a seat at the table. That is the reason I have now built my own table, and I have the tools to help others build their own table, so we have many more tables, and it is not just one demographic.”

Thomas credits a former general manager that he worked for named Richard for being an inspiration as well. Richard may not have been a world leader, but his role was no less important in Thomas’s journey.

“He was a black guy in leadership, and I didn’t see that much in this space. He gave me my first culinary cookbook, and he told me ‘You’re going to be somebody.’ and I was a busboy at that time.”

That fueled him to take his commitment to a new level. After working eight hours in his position, he would then work another eight more washing the floors for free so he could be around the chefs in the kitchen. He took every opportunity for the gift it was, even recalling one time when a chef called in sick and Thomas getting assigned to peel 50 pounds of potatoes and carrots.

“That was like Jesus coming back down and telling me to cook for him,” he recalled. “At the end of the night, the chef put a chef’s hat on my head. It was like being crowned.”

By the time he reached 20 years old, he cooked for his first President. Soon after, he was presenting healthy meals to foreign heads of state. His meteoric rise in the field during this period was only the beginning and served as a foundation for even more success. He has cooked for many more leaders and celebrities in the years since, including as a 3x guest on the Tamron Hall Show on Disney.

One special moment that stood out for him was when he found out that he got the at the United State Capitol. He had already served the House of Representatives and Senate in their office buildings. Right before he was offered the job as a Head Chef for the United States Capitol Building, he had walked the train tunnel below the Capitol. Along the way, he could see every state medallion and flag. Once he walked that tunnel and got confirmation of the job, reality set in.

“I am now at the level that I get to take care of every leader of each state, US Presidents, and Foreign Heads of State, and I am in charge of their diet. That walk with all that history was a moment I won’t forget.”

Chef Daniel Thomas with members of the armed forces
Chef Daniel Thomas

Staying Fit His Own Way

Even with the type of schedule that Thomas has, he understands the importance of being healthy himself, so he is ready to do his job to the best of his ability. His personal commitment to self goes back to when he found out his father and grandparents were borderline diabetic. He had played junior varsity and varsity basketball, soccer, and lacrosse throughout high school, and he reached the college level with basketball. He is far too busy nowadays to travel to a gym, but he does have a personal fitness routine he does at home.

“I work out at home with sit-ups and pushups and cardio, but I also take steps when I can,” he explained. “I also lift weights at home because it helps with everyday life.”

Thomas has accomplished a lot, and one reason for his success is that he is always trying to make as big of a difference as possible. His reach grew considerably thanks to his book, Recipes for a New You! Healthy Eating at its Best! He also lives as an example for others to be inspired by, and he hopes others see greatness is possible within themselves just as he did for himself when he was serving the leaders he has crossed paths with over the years.

“You are what you eat, but I feel you are also what you see,” he explained. “I know God makes no mistakes, and because He has put me in those rooms I was supposed to be in, it has helped me with my success.” For more information on Thomas, go to . You can also follow him on Instagram @chefdwthomas.

M&F Senior Military Editor Rob Wilkins contributed to this article.