Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baker's Dozen #3: Chef Daniel Brooks

Dear Mouse,

It's a wet spring afternoon and I'm supposed to be writing my play (!!) that goes up end of August. What better time than this for a really great batch of blueberry muffins , and our third Baker's Dozen Interview?!

I'm very excited to present this interview because of its truly MouseBouche-ness. If this blog is devoted to the intersection of food and art in our lives, there was no way Danny - excuse me, 'Chef Daniel' - Brooks - was not going to appear at some point. He may have become a Barcelona-trained, San Francisco-based food professional, but to me he'll always be the tie-dyed, Phish-following, music-theory spouting twentysomething who once cooked an entire roasted venison in my off-campus apartment... and who asked me, backstage at our college production of Assassins, "Hey, have you ever thought of being in a band?"

Danny Brooks introduced me to many important things, including live rock music, acupuncture, Southern California, mango salsa, seared Ahi, the Fender Rhodes, Taylor guitars, Indian vocal percussion, overtone singing, transcendental meditation, and let's stop there. Since I have just as many memories of Danny cooking as, say, taking pictures of our keyboard player on the toilet in the House of Blues green room, I'm not at all surprised at where he is today. And now...

1) What are your earliest food memories?
6 years old. A bucket of manila clams on my tiny white legs. Opening and eating them with my bare hands.

2)What was the first meal you made for your wife?
New Years Eve 2003 in Barcelona. Everyone ooh-ed and aw-ed and told me how extraordinary the food was. Teresa told me she was unimpressed. I didn’t understand her cause I didn’t speak Spanish at the time. I took her rumblings as a compliment. I think I even may have said “muchas gracias”.

3) You grew up in SoCal, have lived and cooked extensively in Spain, and are now in San Francisco. Which is your favorite food city?
San Francisco. Los Angeles is just too much driving. Period. Even when you can find good shopping or restaurants, it is just too far. I LOVE Barcelona ... However, in Barcelona you can eat the best and worst food in Europe…very inconsistent and VERY expensive! The shopping is great for proteins, particularly fish and shellfish, and mediocre for fruits and vegetables. San Francisco has AMAZING grocery stores, specialty markets and farmer’s markets. It also has a pretty good restaurant culture, especially for cheap regional foods.

4) You have now worked extensively in both entertainment and in food. Similarities? Differences?

Lots of arrogant assholes work in both industries. Lots of interesting, creative people work in both industries. It is easy to find the former, hard (yet very satisfying) to find the latter.

5) What are the top mistakes home cooks make that could be easily solved?
Home cooks have a tendency to add ingredients to pans before the pans get hot. Then, once their ingredients are added, they incessantly poke and prod and slide them around.
(The Boo: Yup. I totally do that.)

6) Most annoying food trend at the moment.
People who demand local, humanely treated foods but do so while simultaneously wearing leather shoes made in a sweat shop in Indonesia.

7) Weigh in on this for me: Defrosted shrimp has been in the fridge four days. Eat it? or no?
No. And shame on you. It is so mean to do that to the poor shrimp who gave their lives to feed you!
(The Boo: Are you hearing this, Mayor??)

8) Favorite hangover cure?
Less drinking the night before.

9) In 1998, you convinced me to try sea urchin. I still remember it vividly as the worst thing I ever tasted. Do you still like it?
Perhaps my favorite food.

10) One food you simply could not live without.

11) What do you do when you go to someone's house for dinner and the food is really terrible?
Lie and say I have been ill and don’t have much of an appetite.

12) I've heard chefs like to play a game of "last supper"--as in, what your final meal would be if you could choose. What would yours be?
Sushi with my wife.

13) The Mouse and I were reminiscing recently about the food you used to make in college, and how wild and out-there something like mango salsa!!!! seemed to us then. What is similarly ahead-of-the-curve in your present repertoire?
I feel my food ideas come almost always from something I have eaten or from a combination of techniques I have learned. I really don’t feel like I invent or innovate. I’ll leave those “ahead of the curve” critiques to the people eating my food.

Well played, Danny. Just like a great Rhodes keyboard solo.


The Boo

P.S. Chef Daniel Brooks' web site posts a "Monthly Menu" with recipes. Please note the "Amuse Bouche" selection - !!! - get it? - which right now features yummy sounding "Gulf Shrimp Croquettes with Salsa Brava". For the love of god, make them the same day you buy the shrimp.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great interview, great questions, saucy chef! menue of the week looked amazing!