This installment of "Hail to the Chef" spotlights Chef Anthony Dimasuay, Head Chef at Three Fires Lounge and the Residence Inn, Sacramento. He will also be one of my opponents at the Celebrity Chef Event on April 30th.
Chef Anthony Dimasuay became one of the youngest Executive Chefs to hit the Sacramento restaurant scene at the age of 28. He attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Chef Anthony then gained entry to some local Sacramento kitchens which include: Aioli Bodega Espanola, Moxie, Slocum House and Mikuni's midtown . He landed in Embassy Suites Tower Bridge Bistro as a pantry cook then worked his way up to Sous Chef in 2007. He then became the executive chef for the 3 Fires Lounge during mid October of 2008.
1. What made you want to become a chef?
There was always something about food that kept me interested. At First, All I did was eat, but not appreciate the texture, taste and presentation. I worked at my Aunt's restaurant for about a year at the age of 15. Then the cook quit and I took a crash course in cooking Filipino food, which I had no idea in preparing or cooking only from watching my mother do so at our home. Till this day I still cook mediocre Filipino food. I can't seem to grasp that old style cooking because I always apply French Technique but you can't do that when it comes to cultural cooking. I think from that year I wanted to learn more on the art of cooking good and hopefully great food.
Food alone can set a mood, it could ruin your experience or make you overwhelmingly happy. It can give you nostalgic moments or give you bad nightmares which you will never try that food again. I could say being Chef is also being a psychiatrist and and artist all in one. Who wouldn't want that?
2. Where did you receive your training?
California Culinary Academy San Francisco before it turned Le Cordon Bleu and years of experiences in small restaurants with intimidating and unreasonable chefs.
3. Who have you worked with that you have really admired?
Roy Choi, owner/Chef of Kogi Barbeque. He was trained by Eric Ripert of Le Bernadin NY. Roy took a lot of time training and challenging me to become who I am today. The first Chef I worked for was Chef Allen from Charles A Jones Skills and business center in South Sacramento. He was a Cajun Navy Chef who Disciplined me and showed me the fundamentals.
4. What is a typical day like for you?
10am–10pm If could go home earlier I would and sometimes I start earlier. My day starts with checking on complimentary breakfast and the staff. Next, receiving orders or placing orders, rotating the meats, because I'm not as lucky as other Chefs who have a receiving guy or even a sous chef. Then, I'm fabricating meats and fish and prepping for lunch service. I have one other cook with me also prepping and cooking. After the lunch rush is over i could do some invoices and check my e-mails. Then I place orders for produce, Sysco (dry goods), meats and seafood. After that, prep for dinner service, some days I only have one cook at my disposal so I'm pretty much both lunch and dinner cook also if someone calls in sick or is on vacation. Like I said, if I can go home I take that opportunity.
5. Please tell me a little bit about Three Fires Lounge (when it opened, about the food).
I was not here for the opening or was present the first year. I was still at the Embassy Suites as a Sous Chef. But when I took the position the original menu they had was boring and to my knowledge unavailable. Who puts razor clams on the menu when they're only available one or if lucky, two months in a year! Most of the food was bland and had no depth but the presentation was nice. Most people eat with their eyes but it has to taste good, right? When I came to the 3 Fires Lounge I saw so much potential. It has a beautiful atmosphere and it is pretty sexy. All the restaurant needed was flare and an identity. Small plates almost tapas to be exact. We also needed great cocktails and wine to compliment the food. I decided to to go global/ Californian Cuisine.
6. You also work for the Residence Inn? Please tell me how the two jobs are similar/different.
Residence Inn is the hotel aspect of it. We can do banquets and meetings and have complimentary breakfast all at the same time and also have room service all at the same time.We have one small minuscule kitchen that can pump out orders. 3 Fires is the Lounge/Bar/Restaurant. Yes, we serve bar food also but with better quality and variety than other bars do. 3 Fires Lounge can also be a place to have a 3 course menu. It looks like a lounge but doesn't look like a hotel lobby bar because it's not inside the lobby. It has its own entity.
7. What are/who are your primary cooking influences?
My mother and my wife. My mother for molding me and supporting me to become a chef but my Wife who has inspired and challenged me to be one.
8. What are your favorite and least favorite foods to prepare?
Desserts... and Filipino food
9. Please tell me about your most overwhelming moment in the kitchen.
To be honest, none that I couldn't handle.
10. Who are your favorite chefs or famous chefs?
Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert
11. White wine or red wine? Do you have a favorite wine varietal/label?
Depends on the meal that I am having, honestly I'm not an avid wine drinker, or alcohol at that. If I had to choose, cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel for red and chardonnay or white riesling for white.
12. What is your "can't live without" kitchen tool and why?
Chef's knife, mandoline slicer and a fine chinoise strainer. Kitchen essentials.
13. Please tell me how you go about planning your menus.
I check out small "hole in the wall" restaurants order an item that I've never had before and if I enjoy it. I will put it on my next seasonal Menu. for example, I enjoyed samosas at an Indian restaurant or Pupusas at an El Salvadorian Bakery. Of course, I put my own twist on it. For the rest of the menu items, it's just instinct and experience that I put on the menu.
14. If you had a different career choice, what would it be?
An architect or a mechanical engineer to make my Father proud (RIP).
15. What are the most important things to remember (can be relative toanything) while working as a chef?
To balance out family time and work time. DON'T NEGLECT YOUR FAMILY IF YOU HAVE ONE!
16. What is the most important thing you have learned in your culinary career?
To be fair and not judgmental, to understand and not to let a bad review or an opinion destroy you. To keep moving on and keep challenging yourself. To be self motivated but not selfish and cocky. Cocky know-it-all chefs annoy me. Always remember there's always someone better than you in this world at cooking so stay alert and stay current.
Also another thing. Why do patrons rush the chefs/cooks and servers so they can make it to a movie or show??? Do they know that the meal and service that they are going to receive costs way more than a movie? An average meal at a decent restaurant cost $80 and up without gratuity. The movie will cost $20 for two and could end up a lousy one. So guest, do not rush us to cook an 8 oz. Filet Mignon not butterflied to a "well done" in under 10 Minutes! And expect it to be the best meal of your life. Sorry, I had to get that one out.
17. How did you become involved with the InAlliance Fundraiser (Celebrity Chef Event)?
Through my Food and Beverage Manager Jon Burns.
18. Where is your favorite place to eat in the Sacramento area?
The Waterboy, Hawaiian Style Grill in Elk Grove, and Aioli Bodega Espagnola on their enclosed patio at night.
19. What are your other hobbies/passions?
My two daughters, my two dogs and my PS3.
20. Best meal ever?
1. Bouchon in Yountville; Ham and egg sandwich with Mornay Sauce and pomme frittes.
2. Savory Chicken in Manilla Phillipines: Roasted whole chicken with gravy drippings
3. Cheese Pizza in Manhattan, NY
4. White Castle Hamburgers in New Jersey
Catch Chef Dimasuay at the Celebrity Chef Event at the California Auto Museum on April 30th. Tickets are still available by calling Jessica Bean at 916-381-1300 x170. Get $5 off individual tickets and $10 off tickets for groups of 10 or more by mentioning promo code "CAKEGRRL". See you there!