Faces behind the food

More about the people at local restaurants

It’s not often that you go to a restaurant and really find out anything about the people who make that food magically appear in front of you. We sent out a survey to area restaurants to find out a little bit more about the people behind the scenes of the food that lands on our plates and reaches our bellies.

Joshua Berreman

Chef at Heritage Restaurant, 255 N. Virginia St., 398-5455

Time spent there: Six months

Educational background: North Valleys High School, Regional Technical Institute, Truckee Meadows Community College: Associates of Applied Sciences in Culinary Arts

Favorite fall dish: Salade Lyonnaise: wilted frisee, bacon, croutons, poached egg, sherry vinaigrette.

Wash two heads of frisee (a.k.a. curly endive), spin dry. Chop 4 pieces of crispy bacon. Make a vinaigrette of 1 oz sherry vinegar, 1/2 oz red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and 4 oz of olive oil. Toast some cubed bread in the oven at 350, just enough for two salads. Set a pot of water on to poach two eggs—a low simmer, about 180 degrees. Drop the eggs in the water to poach. Place a large stainless steel bowl—a saute pan would also work—over a medium flame and get the bacon heated up. Add 1 oz of vinaigrette, and as soon as it starts to pop, add the frisee and a pinch of salt. Move it around in the pan until thoroughly coated. Add your croutons. Once the frisee is warmed, remove it to two plates. Top each salad with a poached egg and a crack of fresh black pepper. Feel free to add any embellishments, but this is the salad at it’s most simple.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

It’s a toss up between the dishwasher and the hostess. The dishwasher keeps the pace of the whole restaurant and makes sure everything is ready to go to the floor or to the cooks who need clean plates and pans. The hostess has the first opportunity to make guests feel welcome and set the tone for the night. It’s impossible to run a restaurant without any of our staff, but I think that the dishwasher and hostess are most important, and also most often taken for granted.

Mike Blide

Owner at Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar, 10142 Rue Hilltop, Truckee, Calif., (530)587-5711

Time spent there: 18 years

Educational background: BS in Psychology, MA in Parks Management

Favorite fall dish: Cottonwood’s Killer Caesar: Cottonwood Caesar Salad

One large bowl for mixing

1 head romaine, rinsed with end cut off

2 anchovy fillets

1-2 tsp mashed garlic (to taste)

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese (plus extra for sprinkling on top)

salt and pepper

Blend anchovy and garlic with a fork to make a paste. Transfer to bowl and whisk in lemon juice and egg yolk, then olive oil until blended, then most of cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Separate romaine leaves and toss in the bowl using your hands until leaves are coated. Lick your fingers. Arrange like a fan in bowl and sprinkle with Romano cheese. Lick your fingers again. Upon realizing it is not quite like ours, call (530)587-5711 for reservations or take out.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Alicia McCann is our floor manager and is responsible for hiring and training the unique individuals who understand that while great food is an essential component of a dining experience, other components play a major role as well. We focus on the history and character of our building and its place in Truckee’s storied past, and try hard to give our guests a window into that very important legacy.

Dave Bogart

Owner at Bistro 7, 7111 S. Virginia St., 851-9463

Time spent there: Some time every day

Educational background: BS from Arizona State University

Favorite fall dish: Cabernet braised short ribs with sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Casey Riley, our Manager.

Greg Butler

Managing member at Buenos Grill, 3892 Mayberry Drive, 787-8226

Time spent there: 15 years

Educational background: University of Nevada, Reno and in the kitchen

Favorite fall dish: Pumpkin Bisque Soup with Southwestern Spices (Vegetarian)

3 1/2 quarts of vegetable broth

4 cups half and half cream

Three 15-ounce cans pure pumpkin

12 Tablespoons (packed) brown sugar

3 Tablespoons cumin

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon nutmeg

1 Tablespoon Jack/cheddar cheese-garnish

1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro-garnish

Bring veggie broth and cream to boil in heavy pot. Whisk in canned pumpkin, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until soup thickens slightly and flavors blend—about 15 minutes. To serve: Ladle soup into soup bowl. Garnish each bowl with shredded jack/cheddar cheese and cilantro and spices.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

My wife, Mimi, and our dedicated, hard-working and loyal employees.

Ivano Centemeri

Room chef at La Strada, inside Eldorado Hotel and Casino, 345 N. Virginia St., 348-9297

Time spent there: 12 hours per day

Educational background: Culinary Institute in Milano, Italy

Favorite fall dish: Appetizer: Roasted beets salad, pickled red onions, gorgonzola and candied walnuts. First course: Kabocha squash tortelli, sweet Italian sausage, brown butter-sage, parmigiano. Main course: Roasted veal shank and fall roots and vegetables.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Next to me, Stevie Borghesi, my assistant.

Patrick Dalton

General manager at Rapscallion Seafood House and Bar, 1555 S. Wells Ave., 323-1211

Time spent there: Nine years

Educational background: Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from University of Nevada, Reno with an emphasis in advertising

Favorite fall dish: My mom’s beef stroganoff on fried potatoes. It is an all-day affair, but the house smells amazing and even my kids clean their plates. Nothing beats it on a powder day.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Cuco Martinez, our prep chef. Cuco has been making everything here since 1984. If you had a dessert or appetizer in this place in the last 30 years, Cuco made it. That is not an exaggeration. Everything from coconut prawns to cheesecake, bacon wrapped scallops, etc. When he is on vacation, he is sorely missed.

Lucio Gomez

Lead line chef at Brew Brothers, inside Eldorado Hotel and Casino, 345 N. Virginia St., 786-5700

Time spent there: 40 to 45 hours per week

Educational background: 30 years of experience in the cooking field

Favorite fall dish: Turkey dish along with all goodies that come with it, which I love to prepare at the restaurant I work for.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Fernando Ochoa, lead line cook, who takes care to make sure the food is correctly presented to our customers.

Tim Healion

Big chef at Laughing Planet Cafe, 650 Tahoe St., 360-2592

Time spent there: Since inception, five months

Educational background: School of hard knocks. Attended: University of Massachusettes - Amherst, University of Nevada, Reno, TMCC, but no degree.

Favorite fall dish: Our new L.A.M.B. bowl. So new I don’t have a specific break down on the recipe to serve just four alone—we make a lot. The basic: Maple masala delicata squash, fresh spinach, locally raised lamb meatballs, cilantro yogurt chutney, roasted beet, pear, and mint salad, and french lentils. Bam!

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

The dishwasher. The dishwasher is the glue. When it’s going off, with a great dishwasher, a big part of the operation is handled without thought or worry.

Fernando Martinez

Room chef at Roxy's Bar and Lounge, inside Eldorado Hotel and Casino, 345 N. Virginia St., 786-5700

Time spent there: One year and three months

Educational background: On-the-job training, worked at various restaurants in San Francisco. Worked my way up.

Favorite fall dish: Braise lamb shanks with root vegetables

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Every single person is important at this restaurant.

Johnny McCabe

Lead chef at Campo Restaurant, 50 N. Sierra St., 737-9555

Time spent there: Two and a half years

Educational background: Trained at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. Cheffed at many different Reno/Tahoe restaurants.

Favorite fall dish: Fall is my favorite time of year for creating dishes. It’s the time we can start bringing heartier autumnal dishes to our guests. Dishes like osso buco and beef bourguignon always help bring a sense of comfort to the change in seasons. It also ushers in a change in our soups. Working with classic fall spices and deep, rich flavor profiles is very exciting. Seafood bisques are an absolute favorite of mine at this time of year, and I have included the recipe for my signature Lobster Pan Roast with Chipotle Creme Fraiche

1 lb. lobster tail meat, cut into 1 ½-inch chunks

1 Meyer lemon, juiced, plus zest of half

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chili sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup lobster stock

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

2 + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons creme fraiche with chipotle powder, mixed thoroughly

smoked paprika & black pepper to taste

In large wok pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add lemon and garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add wine, bring to boil and reduce by half. Add chili sauce, tomato paste, lobster stock, Worcestershire, Tabasco and celery salt. Bring to boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes. Add cream, remaining butter, lobster meat and simmer until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chipotle creme fraiche, paprika and black pepper.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

I couldn’t single out a specific worker. At Campo we are a team, a complete entity that strives to create the best customer experience possible.

Tom McCormick

Manager at the Isles, 809 S. Center Street, 184-1804

Time spent there: Four and a half years

Educational background: MBA

Favorite fall dish: Pumpkin scones

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Kendra, the head waitress

Dee Moore

Owner/pastry chef at Dee's Bakery & Cafe, 970 McCarran Blvd., Suite 102, Sparks, 351-2253

Time spent there: 14 years

Educational background: I studied at St. Helena Culinary Institute of America, Greystone. After graduation, I worked for Vinnea Pastries under Michael Rodoziqe and Josephs Vienna Pastries, under Joseph Pasa. During my work career I came to find that I enjoyed doing custom cakes and wedding cakes. Since this I have focused highly on those two areas. I have continued to study through International Cake Exploration Society since 1992 and have a great passion for doing wedding cakes and custom design cakes that are hard to find in the Reno/Sparks area.

Favorite fall dish: My favorite fall dish has to be the turkey. My mother played a big role in teaching me how to cook and the love for food. She was born and raised in the south and my father was Italian, so we learned a lot of different dishes growing up. Thanksgiving was always a favorite time for my family.

Smoked Bacon Turkey: 1.5 to 8 lb. Turkey

Kosher Salt

Smoked Bacon

GarlicSalt and Pepper

Whole white onion

Bring the turkey in two to three gallons of water with the kosher salt for eight to 12 hours. This will make the turkey very moist. Don’t brin for more than 24 hours. When ready to roast, pour off the brin and rinse well. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan and put one whole onion in the cavity of the turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover the entire turkey with smoked bacon or your choice of bacon. We like the smoked as we use it to make our gravy after the turkey is cooked. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the turkey hits the safe cooking temperature. When the turkey is done baking remove from the roasting pan to a nice dish and let rest. Don’t cut into it right away as you will loose all those delicious juices. After turkey has cooled, take some of the bacon off and put it in the roasting pan with the onion that you removed from the turkey. Add about 6 tablespoons of flour and cook slowly. We also add butter. When the gravy starts to thicken, add about a quart of 1/2 & 1/2 and continue cooking for about 20 minutes. After gravy has cooled down, put in a blender and blend for a few minutes until smooth. Serve over turkey and mashed potatoes!

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

My husband, Dillon. He does all the baking, and a lot of cooking. He has been with me in the kitchen for eight years now. He is for sure my right hand man. He never had formal training but loves to bake and cook, and it shows.

Shakka Moore

Executive chef at Chez Louie, inside Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., 284-2921

Time spent there: Six months

Educational background: School of hard knocks!

Favorite fall dish: Chicken pot pie

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

All of our staff is equally important to the success of our establishment and our guests satisfaction. We succeed as a team or fail as a team.

Rich Selden

Owner at Cafe Deluxe, 1690 S. Wells Ave., 737-9735

Time spent there: A lot!

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree from University of Nevada, Reno in political science

Favorite fall dish: Hot Lemon Ginger drink. Half a teaspoon of grated ginger, a hearty squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a tablespoon of honey, and a dash of cayenne. So simple and so good!

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Here’s a generic answer: everyone! The staff here are so passionate and multi-talented. Everyone is cross trained to some extent. They literally do it all! Their willingness to be creative and try new things is something to behold. It really helps the evolution of our menu that they are so hungry to try out new recipes.

Nikos Theologitis

Owner/president at Niko's Greek Kitchen, 148 West St., 284-3678

Time spent there: six years

Educational background: in Greece

Favorite fall dish: Gyro

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Michael Lagunsad

Haley Wood

Co-owner at Two Chicks, 752 S. Virginia St., 323-0600

Time spent there: LIFE

Educational background: My background is in food and beverage. I hold a degree in graphic communication, but I only spent three years in that industry.

Favorite fall dish: Harvest Cobb Salad: Chicken, goat cheese, avocado, butternut squash, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries on mixed greens with creamy herb dressing.

Next to the chef, who is the most important worker at this restaurant?

Most definitely the prep cooks. Most of our menu consists of recipes made from scratch that need to be prepared on a daily basis!