(WTNH)–From West Africa’s Ivory Coast to Hollywood, Executive Chief Francois Kwaku Dongo’s story is one of hard work and perseverance, and help along the way from one of the most famous chefs in the world, Wolfgang Puck.

Dongo did not know English when he came to the United States, and now speaks many languages. He worked with Puck at the famous Spago restaurant in Los Angeles, and cooked for the rich and famous, including two of his favorites, Gene Kelly and jazz great Miles Davis.

“I learned the job from the ground up. I was a night cleaner, so I understand what it takes to run a place from the ground all the way to become an executive chef or even a partner,” Dongo said. “I can spend 24 or 48 hours in the kitchen, and I don’t get tired of it because you learn something new every day.”

Dongo said when he first started out, he was known as the pasta cook, and would make a risotto for actor Sean Connery whenever he came in.

He says the best dishes have just three ingredients, pure and simple. He did 17 Academy Award dinners with Wolfgang Puck, and has some amazing stories about that event.

He’s currently executive chef at the Roger Sherman in New Canaan.