I’m not a cook. But I’m an adept eater. At my house, I am sometimes put in charge of chopping. It’s either that or cleaning up. I’ve often said I will make as much mess making a tuna fish sandwich as my other half will preparing an elaborate meal. I don’t have a passion for cooking. He does.
That’s what you want when you eat out, hope for when you go to another’s house for dinner, someone who enjoys cooking. We’ve been re-watching early episodes of Dexter and Sgt. Angel Battista on a recent episode talks about “la pasion”. Passion sounds especially passionate in Spanish. That’s what I want in a cook . . . passion, excitement for and a LUV of preparing food.
The Bistro on Park Avenue has recently had some personnel changes, brought in two new Chefs, David Jones and Edward Hollingsworth.
Before I’d really met both, I’d had the opportunity to observe them, see them at work, interacting with others in the restaurant. Just seeing them at work I found them friendly, engaging, eager to provide ideas. Over time, and as we talked recently, I’ve seen that excitement for cooking in both of them. It’s the sort of thing you can’t teach. It’s either there, or it isn’t.
David, from Syracuse, New York, went to culinary school in Melbourne, Florida, was a sous chef at four different restaurants in New York City and on Long Island, was head Chef for two restaurants in the Orlando area previously. “I LUV to cook,” he says. “My favorite thing to do is mostly sauces. I LUV doing any kind of fish, to steak.” Favorite sauce? “You know, I really couldn’t tell you off the top of my head. I have so many different ones that I do. I LUV doing mostly cream sauces, butter sauces.”
Novice to cooking that I am, my frame of reference sometimes comes from what I see on television. I ask them what they think of reality television shows dealing with food and get some mixed signals. David says he’s an Iron Chef fan, but they both talk about most reality television shows – food-oriented included – are light on reality and mostly processed filler. David observes, “Those aren’t really chefs on there anymore, wearing shorts and tank tops. It’s like what the hell.”
With the abundance of shows they joke a bit about other chefs they’ve known who’ve been cast, one who was such a nightmare in the kitchen. Edward came close a few years ago, and his previous job as a professional magician came in handy. “That’s what got me through all the auditions,” he says. “And when I got to the point of this one audition – I mean, it was such a long day – they said, okay can anybody just tell a joke or do a magic trick? I said, yeah! So I did a couple of coin tricks and they bumped me right up to meeting with the producers. But at no point during the entire audition process did they ask me to cook.”
Edward attended Le Cordon Bleu here in Orlando and graduated in 2003. “I LUV to cook. That’s where my passion is,” he tells me. He was a professional magician for 18 years, but confides, “I always said that if I was able to go back to school, it would be to culinary school. So when I was able to do that, that’s what I did.” He previously was Chef at Galopin, and Executive Chef at Loft 55 in Downtown Orlando, until they went with more of a nightclub concept.
While David is fond of sauces, Edward’s favorite dishes to cook involve fish. “I don’t like to eat fish, really, I’m not a seafood eater, but there’s so much you can do with it, with the chutneys and the sauces, the sauce itself. And you can make it look really pretty on a plate.”
He speaks of a recent special they did with rainbow trout. Adds David, “I actually got a compliment from a regular here, he came back and told me it was the best fish he’d ever had in his life. He came back like three different times.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of compliments lately, especially the specials we’ve created,” responds Edward.
Back in the reality TV vein, I ask who will win if we have a skills challenge, one chopping onions or the like. They look at each other, agree as they answer basically together. “I think we’re pretty close on that stuff,” says Edward.
Adds David, “Speed wise, I would think me, but accuracy would be him.”
“We balance each other out very well,” Edward adds.
I’ve seen that ying and yang thing to be true in my stops at The Bistro. They complement one another, yet share the same enthusiasm.
They are presently working with owners Erika and Hugo Boesch to develop a new menu, revamping some dishes, bringing in new ones, all with a consistent focus. As we talk I mention some of my favorite foods and each gets excited telling me of a dish they’ve prepared or a favorite Local eatery which they believe has the best of that style, ideas for the new menu and restaurant.
It’s that tasty la pasion thing again; and, I’m anxious to sample more of it in the future.