A fun Q&A with some of the state’s up-and-coming chefs as well as culinary superstars.
Photography by Amy Long
DANNY LOPEZ (Online Exclusive)
Chef of Arkansas State University
Hometown: Lyman, Wyoming.
Are you a formally trained chef or an on-the-job-trained cook? I started cooking when I was a teenager, went into the Marine Corps as a cook, then went on to school from there.
Where were you trained? Western Culinary Institute, Portland Oregon.
How many years have you worked in the food industry? 30.
What or who inspired you to become a chef/cook? When my parents divorced, I was 12. My dad asked me, “Do you want to cook or do dishes?” I hated doing dishes so I started cooking. Plus when I was a kid my family said they had to pry me from the table. I love food.
What was the first item or meal you prepared? Pork chops and baked potatoes; I had to call my sister to ask how long to cook potatoes in oven.
What is your favorite meal to prepare? Any type of pasta dish with a vegetable and meat sauce.
What is your favorite meal? Ribs and baked beans.
What is your favorite meal to eat out? Hot wings.
What is your favorite junk food? Salsa Verde Doritos with ghost pepper salsa.
What is your favorite type of cuisine? I love Italian. I did my internship in Italian cooking.
What is your favorite utensil, gadget or piece of equipment? My knives.
Where do you find new recipes? I watch a lot of Food Network, look at magazines and put my own twist on things.
For whom would you most like to prepare a meal? I would like to cook for the Oakland Raiders. That would be dream job, feeding them all the time.
Music or silence? Music.
Salty or sweet? Sweet.
Bake or nah? I do not really bake, I have great ideas and with the help of my bakers we come up with some great stuff.
Beer, wine or cocktail? Give details. I am a Long Island drinker, but I love flavored beers also.
Do you cook at home? Yes, I love to cook at home — I even make the plates look like they were being served in a restaurant.
What food or meal do you wish you’d invented? Hot wings.
What food trends do you like or hate the most? I do not like when I see chefs or cooks try and get to fancy with things. I like to keep it simple. You can always still make things look and taste great by not adding “froufrou” to it.