By Rebecca Combs, Foodable Contributor
When talking about “The Industry,” the focus is usually on the Executive Chefs. After all, it's their kitchen, right? But where would these top chefs be if they didn’t have a great sous, their right-hand men (and women)? Below, get to know the chefs behind THE chef.
Dina Butterfield (Sous Chef; The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek)
The Mansion Restaurant has been captivating diners for more than 30 years. It's one of the most romantic dining destinations in Dallas and is located in an iconic hotel that is rich in local history. The current Executive Chef is Bruno Davaillon, who is bringing French influences to contemporary American cuisine. This is where Dina Butterfield finds herself — a seemingly intimidating position, but Dina loves working alongside Chef Bruno. According to her, she is always amazed at how “he can grab a few ingredients and make something great in no time. If you are willing to learn, he is there to teach you.” Dina seems to have always had a passion for learning in the kitchen. At a young age, she would sneak into the kitchen to help her grandmother, but it wasn't until after high school that she discovered her true passion for the culinary arts while working as an au pair in Brussels. Even today, her passion to continue learning is strong. As she says, “I want to continue learning all I can and hope one day to open a small restaurant with a very eclectic comfort food menu.” No matter where she goes or what she learns, if Dina was having her last supper, it would be from her grandmother — “My grandmother's chiles en nogada. It's a poblano pepper stuffed with beef and dried fruits and served with a walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds.”
Cody Sharp (Sous Chef; Casa Rubia at Trinity Groves)
He's a little quirky and used to be a musician, but today he works in the kitchen preparing Spanish Tapas next to Chef Omar Flores at Casa Rubia. So, how does one switch from music to food? Cody grew up cooking, but chose the musician route straight out of high school. Around the age of 24, he realized that cooking was much more important — “I went to culinary school, started working at Restaurant Ava, and the rest is history.” At Casa Rubia, Cody pays extreme attention to detail and focuses on the preparation of individual components of each dish. Cody's passion lies in the American South and hopes to bring a broader knowledge of low country cuisine and ideals to Dallas. “Southern food in Dallas is all fried chicken and biscuits, not that those aren't amazing things! I just feel there is such a larger spectrum of the south that hasn't been utilized in the DFW area,” he says. So what's his quirky side? Cody has an obsession with spoons and has been known to steal them from restaurants during his travels. His personal favorite is from Bouchon. From musician to sous chef to amateur spoon thief, Cody is a believer in using great ingredients and adding bourbon to anything. Be on the look out; he’s headed for big things!
Justin Holt and Michael Gibson (Co-Sous Chefs; Lucia)
Lucia is a small Italian restaurant owned by James Beard Award-nominated Chef David Uygur. The quaint and cozy atmosphere is something that draws diners in and is also what Michael Gibson loves. “You have your hand in every dish. It's pretty rewarding to see guests eating and enjoying pasta you made that morning.” Justin Holt says that the working environment is wonderful and “allows everyone in the front and back to do the best job possible.” Neither Michael nor Justin have a specific cooking style. For them, it's about making good food with quality ingredients. Justin's ultimate goal as a chef is “to have my own place and surround myself with talented and passionate individuals.” For him, food is what draws people together and he loves it. As for Michael, who started off in the military, he never really thought about the culinary industry as a career. While he was stationed in Iraq, he read a story about a family who owns a restaurant in upstate New York entitled “Brigade de Cuisine.” According to Michael, “that story really hit me and helped me to consider culinary as a career. The G.I. Bill allowed me to go to culinary school after the Air Force. From there, it was just a growing appreciation for food and the details that go into making great food.”
World travelers, musicians, and military — all very different, but all encompass a passion for food and hospitality. They may be in the background now, but they are the future of the culinary world.