Join The Treasure Coast Foodie for his brand new video series where we get an inside look at chefs from Indian River County! We will get to see some of our favorite chefs, and some new ones, in their element as they answer questions from The Foodie Guy! In this episode, we dive into Cafe 66 and get to know Chef Dan Wood!
Q: Where did you acquire your culinary education?
A: I got my experience from a lot of great local chefs. One of the restaurants I worked at early on was Chelsea’s over on the beach. I got to work with a lot of area chefs that were frequent in and out of there. I attended Indian River State College for a little while, that’s about it.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned in culinary school?
A: The most important thing I learned in culinary school was the basics. There’s nothing in school that can prepare you for the outside world, you really have to get in the kitchen, be around during the rushes, that’s really where you earn your stripes in my opinion.
Q: What was your first culinary job?
A: My very first culinary job was at Boston Market when they first opened. I was there cutting stuff out of bags, steaming things, cooking rotisserie chickens, the stuff of that nature.
Q: If you had not become a chef, what profession would you have chosen?
A: I would have become a charter boat captain. I even thought of intertwining the two at one point, like doing some tours on the river involving food, maybe taking people out on the ocean and doing some things out there, doing dinners on the island, stuff like that. Going fishing sounded like a great living!
Q: What do you love most about being a chef?
A: Just seeing the look on people’s faces, enjoying the dishes that you created. Number 2 would be just being able to go anywhere in the country, or anywhere in the world and be able to have some kind of employment there waiting for me.
Q: What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
A: The higher quality proteins, Wagyu beef, Niman Ranch pork, Bell & Evans chicken. I like working with those products, you can honestly taste the difference between a regular store-bought and then somebody who actually took the time to create a good product.
Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: It’s just a simple, 8-inch or 10-inch chef’s knife. It’s versatile, you can do just about anything with it, dice, julienne, slice, it’s just a good all-around tool.
Q: Who is your inspiration when it comes to culinary creations?
A: One of my biggest inspirations is Chef Gordon Ramsey. Not necessarily because of the shows he’s been on like Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares, it’s because some of the shows he does where he goes to a different country and uses local ingredients to create regional dishes with the people of that country and tries to beat them at their own game. Just seeing him be able to go there and do things with different ingredients, and different people around the world is pretty inspiring.