Chef Daniel del Prado on '90s rock bands and seeing a shrink

Each week, we'll interview two of the chefs participating in our 2013 Iron Fork competition. On November 7, these six culinary masterminds will go head to head to see who can create the most appetizing and healthful dish using a secret ingredient provided by Lunds. For more information on the event, or to purchase your tickets, click here.

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Courtesy of Daniel del Prado


Daniel del Prado
Executive Chef
Burch

Chef Daniel del Prado loves food and he always has. He credits his Italian mother for providing an early appreciation.

"Every Sunday, we would wake up and everyone was cooking and making pasta. A whole Sunday event," says del Prado. "Food was always a big part of my life. I eat a lot."

Originally from Argentina, Daniel del Prado's love of food has taken him around the world, from London to Copenhagen, and in the U.S. from Colorado to our own Minneapolis. Most recently, he partnered with longtime friend and mentor, Isaac Becker, at Burch Steak and is having "a marvelous time" there.

In fact, del Prado believes Minnesota chefs are some of the best in the country. "Minneapolis is in the top seven cities for food, no doubt," he says, "I'd say top five but someone would probably get mad at me."

As for why Minneapolis ranks so high, he has a theory. "Farming is closer to the chefs' process here. You must work with ingredients that are available during the varied seasons -- especially the winter."

Del Prado's high opinion of his fellow local chefs might make the upcoming Iron Fork a daunting prospect. He has never participated in a competition like this and isn't quite sure what to expect; although he believes his rustic cooking style could give him an advantage.

"I don't like too many ingredients on the plate. I feel like it means you're not confident about cooking something right, so you try to mask it," he says.

He wouldn't go so far as to predict his victory, but regardless of whether he wins or loses, del Prado knows what he will do as soon as the competition is over.

"Have a drink," he says, "either to celebrate or cry."

See also:
Chef Stephanie Kochlin talks St. Paul pride, her Iron Fork competitors, and hatred of foams

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Hot Dish: If you had not been a Chef, what would you be doing professionally?
del Prado: Ski bum. But if not that, I don't know, something that I can be creative doing. I need a creative outlet. Maybe back to music.

What kind of music? Were you in a band?
Yes, I used to play in a band when I was younger. Like a power trio -- you know a 1990's Stone-Temple-Pilots-Pearl-Jam-Nirvana-wanna-be. We were terrible, though.

Current obsession outside of the kitchen?
Working out. I'm trying to stay in shape because I eat and drink too much. I've lost 16 pounds so far, in two months. It's hard because food is so good, you know?

How do you define "foodie"?
Someone who can think about food and tries to know food. They pay attention to what they're eating instead of just eating to survive. Someone who loves food and goes to restaurants and farmers' markets. We need those people; they make the restaurant industry interesting.

If you could have dinner with or cook for one person living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?
Fergus Henderson from St John's in London. He likes offal. I would make him a pasta. Fresh pasta, of course. Maybe bone marrow rigatoni.

What three things are always in your refrigerator?
Coffee... and... I think just coffee. That's the only thing I have to have. Oh, and fish sauce and peanut butter, always.

What is something most people don't know about you?
That I have two shrinks. One is old and one is young. I have a passion for psychology. I always have to have at least one going all the time.

What is your biggest frustration in the kitchen?
When people try to hide something. Maybe there is a burned piece of fish and they tried to cover it up by turning it over or adding something. It isn't honest.

What is your strategy for winning the Iron Fork?
At first I thought I'd plan a strategy but then I thought, oh well, I'll just go with it.

Check out our other Iron Fork chef interviews:
Chef Patrick Weber on rock n' roll and why chefs throw things
Chef Ian Gray talks goats, Park Tavern, and his favorite meal at Lee-Ann Chin

Chef Stephanie Kochlin talks St. Paul pride, her Iron Fork competitors, and hatred of foams



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