He is operating a restaurant that is within walking distance of the White House, and other governmental buildings. Those who dine in his restaurant can be found wearing expensive three-piece suits and may have just shaken hands with the president of the United States.
So how did an Abbeville native go from walking through life confused right after high school to becoming a top chef in Washington D.C?
Blame it on his Cajun heritage that got him where he is today.
After graduating from high school, Morton toiled with what to do with his life. He attended UL for two years but never liked it, so he quit.
What he always enjoyed doing on Sundays was hanging out at his grandmother’s home in Abbeville and eating a Cajun meal with his entire family. Every Sunday, the Morton family would gather at Rhonda Broussard Morton’s home to eat rice and gravy and roast, or fried chicken.
Well, it was family gathering and eating that he loved. Out of the blue a relative said he was opening a restaurant in Hammond and he conned his way into getting a job cooking in the kitchen. It was something new, so he thought he would give it try.
He fell in love with cooking and he has been learning the art ever since.
“I found my love,” said Morton. “It (cooking) made me feel comfortable.”
Three years out of high school, he was working at the Bombbay Club in New Orleans for free. From there he left New Orleans and went to California where he stayed and worked for two years.
He also graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in the New England area.
Morton moved to Washington D.C. where he has been since 2008. He is married and has two children a six year old and a three month old baby.
Today he finds himself balancing 14-hour work days and trying to raise a family. But when he is at work, South Louisiana is still pulling on him hard. Morton said he has created dishes using South Louisiana flavor. One of his favorite dishes is a Crawfish Tart, using Louisiana crawfish. Art Smith, celebrity chef, owns the restaurant where he works. Morton said Smith lets him cook different meals with Cajun influence. He uses south Louisiana shrimp, brown rice from south Louisiana, as well as other seasoning and meat.
“I do miss my Cajun Culture and the people,” he said. “I’m homesick. You can not find the culture anywhere else. I long for that.”
He does miss the culture, but do not look for him to move back to Abbeville and start his own restaurant. He is content where he lives and he is too established to walk away from it.
“There is too much of an opportunity here for me to leave,” said Morton.
So instead of coming back home, he brings home north to Washington D.C. each time he prepares a meal using shrimp, crawfish, oysters or rice.
“No one can put their soul into each Cajun meal like I can because I lived it.”