Duncan Smith, exec chef of Dazzle, on the "Hamdog" bomb
Favorite dish on your menu: Our grilled Amigos, a fresh, grilled-to-order Anaheim chile and a fresh grilled avocado over house-fried tortilla chips. We top it with fresh cilantro, pico de gallo and queso fresco, then drizzle it with our homemade green-chile aioli. This dish accentuates freshness, plus it has a lot of healthy attributes. The dishes I take the most pride in tend to be the simplest to create -- the ones where I can just let the fresh ingredients complement each other.
Biggest menu bomb: The "Hamdog." This little gem was an all-beef hot dog completely encased in hamburger. We cooked it in a deep fryer like a ripper dog and served it on a bun with a fried egg and green chiles. The idea behind it was to combine two of my favorite meals into one glorious, gluttonous plate. Unfortunately, the people spoke, and the Hamdog is no more. I still dream about the hamburger-hotdog marriage, but for now they'll each have to be enjoyed individually.
Most memorable meal you've ever had: A dinner with my grandfather and father. I can't remember what we ate, but knowing my grandfather, I can guarantee it wasn't chicken. We were at the family lake cabin in northern Minnesota, and someone mentioned how there were three generations of Smith men at the dinner table. I guess it was a coming of age for me, but I remember how grateful and proud I was to be part of such a great family. From that point forward, the dinner table became much more than a place to stuff my face. I'm a firm believer that the world's problems stop at the dinner table. I guess it just goes to show you that the company you keep while you eat can be much more significant than the actual meal itself.
What do you have in the pipeline? Right now I'm just enjoying the canvas that is Dazzle. My boss, Donald Rossa, has really helped me invent myself, and I enjoy the chef-owner relationship we've developed. The pipeline hopefully has that waterfront bistro in store, but right now, you'll find me happily cooking at Dazzle, working on a new fall menu that's coming out this week.