Dion Millender is a self-taught private chef who founded Shaboys after graduating from high school in 2005 and has since been hired by people all over the country. While at Firestone High School, he drew attention with his crispy appetizers, prompting former principal Ken Jones to sample the egg rolls he had prepared for his Working Family class.
Millender had done her research and purchased the ingredients from an Asian market. Jones, like everyone else, enjoyed his egg rolls. “I fell in love with the reaction I got from cooking,” Millender explained to the Beacon Journal. “That’s what piqued my interest.”
After winning the LaunchTown LaunchChef Award, a competition in which three people cater a get-together on separate days, he turned his passion into a business in 2018. He used the competition prize money, along with his savings, to launch his cooking business.
He had a job at Ohio Savings Bank before starting Shaboys, but he didn’t like it. He was eventually fired. Because of “word of mouth” and social media, his culinary business is now among the best in the country. He recalled sending a private message on Instagram to hip-hop legend Fat Joe, and the response he received encouraged him to approach other celebrities, such as Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr., shortly after the Browns signed him as an unrestricted free agent in March 2021.
“I said, ‘Welcome to Cleveland. Let me know if you ever need a private chef,’” Millender recalled. According to him, Walker decided to give him a try to cook for cornerback Greg Newsome II’s May 18 birthday.
“Everybody loved the food, it was a great experience and I’ve been working with [Millender] ever since,” Walker said. “I’m a regular now.”
Montana Love, Cavs legend Campy Russell, Cavalier’s team dietitian and nutritionist Kylene Bogden, Shanique Drummond of the Bravo reality show Married to Medicine: Los Angeles, and Browns players are among his celebrity clients today.
“I don’t cook from technique. I cook from love. I cook from smell. I cook from how I feel, so you can tell the difference when you taste it. [I want customers to think], ‘This person really put a lot of thought and care into this process,’ as opposed to just going straight by the book and just cooking strictly by the book,” said Millender.
Meanwhile, the entrepreneur has been contracted to cater Thanksgiving meals for the Cavs on their flight to Milwaukee on November 25, 2022.