Take 5 with Brad Weir


Title: Sous Chef, Luna Park restaurant
Hometown: New York, living in San Francisco for the last 15 years

1. What was your favorite food growing up?
Hamburgers, I ate them all the time! My mom was not a cook, so she didn't mind but my grandmother was an excellent cook. I remember looking forward to her cooking at holidays. That's where I get it from.

When I was six years old my babysitter would watch the Galloping Gourmet everyday at 3 o'clock, it came on right after Popeye. I remember seeing one episode and announcing to my mom I wanted to make apple pie. My mom insisted we use a pre-made crust and I was very upset with her, but the next time I made it from scratch.

2. What's the best thing about being a chef?
I love working with my hands and at the same time being able to use my brain. You get the left brain right brain combination, I like the creative stimulation. If I was doing just one or the other I'd go crazy.

3. What's your favorite item on the menu right now?
Probably the pork cutlet, it's one of our best-sellers too. It's a simple dish but it has some hidden surprises because we stuff it with mushrooms and cheese. It's such a homey taste, it makes you think "I wish my mother cooked like this!" It's as if you took grandma and sent her to culinary school.

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4. What do you attribute the popularity of retro/comfort food?
People want food that's comfortable, they want to know they're going to like it, it has to be really good. I want people to really have to figure out what to order because they want to try it all. Restaurants succeed when you've had the dish a million time, but you've never had it quite the way they make it way before. For instance, macaroni and cheese is one of the simplest dishes, everyone had it growing up, but you add broccoli, gourmet smoked ham, four cheeses and a bechamel sauce and wow, it's elevated to a different level. But I'd never take it too far.

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5. Where do you like to eat out?
I had never eaten at Luna Park before I came to work here but I ate at Chow, Fog City Diner, Chenery Park, places that make simple food done well. I worked at Q on Clement street and I refined my style there. I like food that everyone has had before but made differently.

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