Derik Moran and Kristin Tyborski of Dakota Jazz Club: Chef Chat, Part 3
In our final installment in our conversation with chefs Derik Moran and Kristin Tyborski of Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant, we'll go back in time as the two describe their favorite childhood meals and discuss how they got started in the biz. (Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 here.)
Kristin, did you grow up cooking?
Tyborski: I grew up cooking because I was the oldest daughter with 3 siblings and my mother worked out of town, so cooking was something that had to be done as part of the day. I mean I liked it, I really liked it, I had an easy-bake oven, I made brownies, that kind of thing.
What kind of food did you cook for your siblings?
Tyborski: I made a lot of macaroni and cheese. I was young. But I do remember doing scalloped potatoes and reheating a ham when I was young, like 9, and I remember being really proud of that. I baked a lot of cakes. Food was just a natural, very nurturing, just about feeding.
So did you go to culinary school right after high school?
Tyborski: I did not. I went to college after high school, and I traveled a lot after high school, and through traveling I really became more interested in flavor profiling and food of the world, so it just piqued my interest even more into a fine dining scene. Then I went to culinary school, and I was working at restaurants all throughout this, but I went to a culinary program in Colorado, it was an apprentice program, and that fine-tuned a lot of my skills, but I worked for amazing chefs before then and you learn a lot that way. I never finished the culinary program. I'm not certified. After a year of working for 8 dollars an hour, I realized I was just cheap labor, but I'm still glad I did it. It was a very intense program even for just a year.
I'd been working for a cook before then, and then I moved back to where I grew up, which was in Fargo, and became my mentoring chef's sous chef, and that was a very good experience too, just learning from people who know what they're doing.
What are some of your family's favorite meals?
Tyborski: Well, my absolute favorite meal is sloppy Joes. We eat that a lot in my family. My mom is a fantastic cook, so we ate a lot of lasagna, casseroles, you know, Fargo food. Minute steak, mashed potatoes ... but they're not very refined palettes by any means. I made an heirloom potato salad for my family once with heirloom fingerlings, and they picked out all the ones that weren't white.
Derik, you grew up cooking too?
Moran: Yeah. My grandparents were cheesemakers, so I grew up with that background. My grandparents made cheese, my grandma was a great cook and great baker. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in the summer, fishing, hunting, gardening, so the values of food started there: cleaning our fish, cooking them. Every morning we'd have fish for breakfast, and a lot of times we'd have game for dinner, so I guess we kind of lived off the land a lot of the time.
I was born in Colorado, and we grew everything. We had 2.5 acres worth of gardens in Colorado, and then Wisconsin. We moved to Wisconsin when I was 7. At the age of 11, I started working at a family restaurant, mostly doing dishes, cleaning potatoes, flipping the occasional burger. I moved into fine dining when I was 14 and worked in a few of the nicer restaurants in the Midwest as far as accolades go. Again, no certificate, self-taught, worked with a lot of really cool people, people that were willing to take their time and help me.
What are your favorite family dishes?
Moran: We did do a lot of casseroles. We had a busy family. We were never around, so Mom would make dishes and leave them in the fridge for us. We were always involved with other things. My favorite food to eat would be cheesebread, olives, simple food, snack food. It's really hard for me to eat full meals. I'd rather eat a lot of little things.