Some of the Greatest Chefs in the World are found in Orange County, California.
What food is your guilty pleasure?
A cheese platter and a good bottle of wine.
Is there a food you can’t bring yourself to eat?
I would try anything once.
Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
Fried egg sandwich.
Your worst kitchen nightmare?
The time our printer just kept going and going and going, and staff doing everything to keep up. Usually never an issue, but one occasion stands out when we were busier than normal with a line out the door and ended up shorthanded.
Best cooking tip for a novice?
Just get your hands dirty and have fun.
What’s your last meal on earth?
A greasy cheeseburger and onion rings.
Give us one reason why Orange County’s food scene rocks.
Because we’re all super motivated to crush it! And we have access to great ingredients, great restaurants and great people.
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking?
90s Punk Rock
If you could cook for anyone who would it be?
Would have loved to have cooked for Anthony Bourdain, but certainly my Mom.
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a customer?
I don’t judge people for what they like or don’t like so I don’t usually view their request as being strange. If I have the product on hand, I will cook them whatever they want.
What’s the best part about being a chef?
Building a team and having great camaraderie.
What’s the most challenging part of being a chef?
Building said team. It all comes down to searching high and low for the best staffing and it’s not always easy.
Anything you’d like to share with the readers?
Support your independent restaurants!
Just for fun, what is your favorite color?
I’m color blind…
Restaurant: Matador Cantina y Cocina | Restaurant Website
What is your first food memory?
Poached eggs on salt rising toast.
Did you grow up in a cooking family?
Yes my Mom and I cooked together a lot.
Who has influenced your cooking the most?
Definitely my mother, as well as my father-in-law.
Why did you become a chef?
Passion for food and a team environment.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
So many different things from a race car driver to a pro hockey player.
If I weren’t a chef, I’d be:
Probably an under-water welder.
Who are your favorite chefs?
Which seasonings don’t you respect?
All spices have their time and place.
Which spices are underrated?
Not sure, I just use what I like or what the item calls for.
Are there any culinary trends you like right now?
I don’t really get caught up in the trends. I cook what I like and what our guests enjoy. Any experimentation comes out of that.
Any trends you consider overrated?
I don’t really follow them much, but I suppose pork belly.
What do you think is the next worthwhile food/dining trend?
Let’s go with Peruvian food.
Chef Dave Dennis