December 8, 2011 -
Q + A with Spice of Life Executive Chef, Brandon Walukas
A self-proclaimed “mood-eater,” Executive Chef Brandon Walukas has been cooking up savory plates for Spice of Life Catering Co. for the past 3 years. Brandon has always enjoyed the process of transforming his dishes with the seasons, as different varieties of fruits and vegetables become available. His adventurous palette and appreciation for a good bottle of wine (ok, maybe it’s more of an addiction) have made believers of even the pickiest eaters. When it comes to creative menu creation, Chef Brandon is the man.
Q. How do you come up with your dishes? Is there a process you work through?
A. All dishes evolve in different ways. Some by screwing around in the kitchen, some by inspiration from ingredients and others just from going out living life. Each dish begins as an idea, and then it’s all about refining that idea.
Q. What is your go-to spice on the rack?
A. Salt, or really whatever I’m in the mood for.
Q. You spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Do you ever sit down and enjoy your meals?
A. Not as much as I would like to, but I do get out here and there.
Q. Tell us about your background in wine. How do you choose pairings?
A. I prematurely got into drinking wine as a teenager – I’m talking box wine & Mad Dog, but became genuinely interested while I was at CIA in New York. I took a wine class and would drink and talk wine with friends. After college, I worked in a restaurant that taught me a lot about it. I moved to Northern California and worked, toured and tasted at 131 wineries. I’ve been lucky enough to pick the brains of some great wine makers and sommeliers.
I choose my pairings by what I want to shine more – the food or the wine (or beer or cocktail). I don’t discriminate! There are some guidelines I go by, but I usually go with my gut or whatever feels right.
Q. Is there one tip you have for all of us would-be chefs at home who want to make fresh, seasonal dishes in our own kitchen?
A. Cook what you enjoy and buy fresh ingredients! That doesn’t mean they have to be expensive. A $2 meal can taste as good as a $500 meal if you are enjoying yourself. If you have fun cooking, it will show in the food.