Part two: Chef Dylan Moore on Frank Bonanno, Julia Child and Thomas Keller
This is part two of Lori Midson's interview with Dylan Moore, exec chef of Deluxe, Delite and Deluxe Burger. You can read part one here.
Culinary inspirations: Fresh ingredients. I try to use as many seasonal and local ingredients as possible at my restaurants. I'm eating a ton of fresh corn, fava beans and tomatoes right now, because they're so slammin' this time of year, and I'm rotating all of those ingredients on my menu at Deluxe. I'm also inspired by California cuisine, which is what pulled me into thinking that food was so cool -- in part because of Wolfgang Puck, who spearheaded the California cuisine movement. Back in the '80s, there was a place in Boulder called Morgul Bismarck -- I'm sure it was a Spago knockoff -- that was serving California pizzas with things like pesto, which was really new at the time. Both my mom and dad were inspirations, too. It was my mom, in fact, who started Lucile's Creole Cafe. She was a fantastic home cook and hippie who made everything from scratch and insisted on using healthy ingredients. She'd actually mix wheat germ with brown sugar whenever I had cereal.
Greatest accomplishment as a chef: Opening Deluxe. It was a longtime dream of mine to open a restaurant, and it took years to put together, because I wanted to own the building. I locked myself in there for six months, building every table and every banquet and laying every tile. It really was a labor of love.
Favorite restaurant in America: Union Square Cafe in New York. I love the vibe of that place -- it's always busy -- and I've had some amazing meals there, just sitting by myself at the bar. They always have incredibly fresh pastas on the menu, and so many of their ingredients come from the farmers' market right outside the front door. Plus, Danny Meyer signed a Union Square Cafe cookbook for me, which was pretty cool.
Best food city in America: The diversity of cuisines in San Francisco is amazing, plus that's the city where I was first inspired to cook. Everything from the smells wafting onto the streets to the best taquerías in the Mission District and the amazing family meals makes me love that city.
Favorite music to cook by: At home, it's Led Zeppelin. It's my kickback music with a bottle of wine and a roasted chicken on a Sunday night. At work we listen to the radio, but when Zeppelin comes on, we crank it.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? The French Laundry cookbook. It's just like, wow...Thomas Keller is a crazy-genius chef, and the recipes, while technical, are inspirational, and I can take them and make them more accessible to my customers and to my staff. They provide a great jumping-off point.
Favorite dish to cook at home: Every Sunday night, I roast a chicken with tons of fresh herbs and serve a big panzanella-style salad to go with it. I just love the way the chicken makes the house smell.
Favorite dish on your menu: My masa fried oysters. They're probably the best thing I've ever come up with. Even the people I have to coax into eating them claim that they love them. I've got people who come in and order five or six orders -- and then want more.
If you could put any dish on your menu, even though it might not sell, what would it be? I like duck confit, but no matter how I put it together, it never sells. It's the strangest damn thing. I'll get a dozen ducks in, and I'll end up eating all the legs. I tried to put buffalo sweetbreads on the menu, too, but those didn't sell either. In fact, I didn't even sell one order, so my son, Jackson, and I ate them all week long.
One book that every chef should read: Larousse Gastronomique. It's the bible of old-school French techniques, and it's as close as I ever came to going to culinary school.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network, and what would it be about? I'd pitch a show following me through the opening of my next restaurant -- a restaurant reality show that deals with all the crazy things and personalities that pop up when you're trying to get a new place up and running.