Chef News

Chef Chat: Bryan Hulihee of Roaring Fork (part two)

Yesterday we sat down with Bryan Hulihee of Roaring Fork in Scottsdale. Today the conversation continues ...

Hulihee's been with the Roaring Fork since 2001 and has brought his own family influences and ingredients to the menu -- like pink sea salt and tuna tartare (he saves the spam for dinners at home).

While he dished a few culinary confessions yesterday, today he's all about the bigger picture -- What does the Phoenix food scene need? What recipes is he still trying to tackle? What was in his childhood lunchbox? (Ok, the last wasn't quite big picture.) Answers plus more questions after the jump.

Hardest kitchen lesson: I've learned that the head chefs don't do much cooking. The line cooks are actually cooking most of the food. I don't get to do the actual preparing and cooking as much, which I don't think people always know. My job is all about training, so I pay a lot of attention to my sous and the rest of my staff to make sure they get the experience and the skill set.

Last foodgasm: I think it was this Hawaiian lunch plate I made with another Hawaiian guy in the industry a few weeks ago. It was a traditional Hawaiian mix-plate called Moco Loco, which is steamed rice, fresh-ground hamburger pan-seared with brown gravy and a fried egg.

Phoenix food scene needs more: people going out and trying new things. There are a lot of great restaurants that will shut down or chefs who will have to leave if business doesn't pick up. I also think Phoenix has a ton of restaurants, but they're all located in two places. Where I live, in Mesa, we could definitely use some culinary help.

Always in the Kitchen: We definitely have a lot of personalities, and while we don't have to love each other, we definitely do have to work together, so I have to have teamwork and professionalism.

In the fridge: I'm not at home all that often, so most of the shopping is my wife's, but we have a lot of produce, cheeses, chocolates and because I'm half Hawaiian, I always have spam in the pantry. I'm not ashamed! I actually grew up with it, so I always have it around, and really, you can do anything with it. 

In your lunchbox growing up: I don't even know what kind of lunchbox I had, much less what was in it. Maybe a Capri-Sun. Those are actually still in my pantry today. 

Still trying to tackle: I just want to learn more about food. I like learning about the sustainability movement and local, organic products. I actually just talked to a farmer about the things he deals with in talking to restaurants, and it's interesting because I'm starting to think of having my own farm when I retire. I'd love to have a little ranch where I can grow some vegetables and livestock.

(This was part two of our Chef Chat with Bryan Hulihee of Roaring Fork. Check out part one and stay tuned for a recipe tomorrow.)