Yesterday, we shared the first part of our interview with Chef Brian Hulihee of Roaring Fork who celebrated his 10th anniversary working at the Old Town Scottsdale eatery in January. Today, we get personal as Hulihee shares some of his childhood memories and talks about his family.
Hulihee, who comes from a Chinese and Hawaiian background, remembers his grandfather as a source of inspiration for his culinary aspirations -- though it wasn't always that way. Here, Hulihee talks about how his grandfather would prepare classic Chinese dishes such as bao (pork buns) . . .
Hulihee: My parents weren't the greatest of cooks, but my grandfather was, like, really, really good. I didn't know how good he was until I started learning about cooking. Remembering the dishes he made for us, like moon cakes and dumplings -- all that stuff. I didn't realize how lucky I was and, unfortunately, I never learned. I just watched him. He'd lay out a whole table and do all this baking and make all the bao, with steamers stacked four high . . . and in just the smallest of homes. You know how small California homes are. But he made it all happen. There'd be hanging ducks in the kitchen. He was old school, which, remembering . . . it's a little sad.
Although he's never been to Hawaii, Hulihee still feels connected to his other set of cultural roots. As he mentioned in our last interview, he shows his island-side by being a fan of Spam and recalls his father preparing traditional Hawaiian kalua pig for his graduation . . .
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Hulihee: My dad did kalua pig for my high school graduation in our backyard. He and his friend dug an imu [an undergrond oven] and got the burlap and had the whole pig . . . My dad had to get a fire permit to burn the lava rocks. It was great. I woke up and there was a pig in my shower. I was like, 'All right, there's a pig in my shower.' So that was a good memory. I'd like to do that someday.
The father of two young children works hard to balance the demanding shedule of a chef with his familial roles. So how deep does cooking run in the Hulihee blood? We got the answer here:
Hulihee: I have a 4- and a 2-year-old, and my 4-year-old actually likes to help me. He's too little to handle knives and things like that, but he helps me whisk things making pancakes. We try away from stoves. He's gotten splattered once and didn't like it. I asked him what he wants to do and he said he wants to be a chef. So we'll see.