While Sonny Pache, 29, was studying finance in college in Ohio, he always ended up cooking for his five roommates. Apparently he wasn't half bad, because the roommates were always telling him he should trade in formulas for recipes and go to culinary school.
Eventually he listened, enrolling in the Columbus chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF). That enrollment led him to apprentice in 2004 with Cameron Mitchell's Fish Market.
Pache now runs the show at Ocean Prime, one of Dallas' swankiest steak and seafood houses.
In this week's three-course meal, we pick Pache's brain about all things food nationally, locally, and his kitchen at Ocean Prime.
Who are you?
I was raised in Southern California, but was born in the Philippines. My parents met while my dad was stationed in the Philippines. I believe my mother's passion for cooking had a big impact on my life at a young age. Instead of going out to dinner, my mom was always cooking for my dad and me.
How did you become attracted to the cuisine you currently cook?
I love all kinds of food. As a chef you are constantly growing and learning new techniques. The food we are doing is simply great. That means that we are using the best and freshest ingredients. We use simple but perfect cooking methods each time. We also try to capture the taste of each ingredient, not masking a dish with complex flavors.
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How did you get this gig?
I wanted to get out of Columbus and do some traveling. At the time I had been with the company for five years and was ready for a change in my life. I had asked if there was a chance to move. After a few months, I was asked to go to our Miami location. I was really excited to go. A few days before my housing trip, I had received a call asking if I wanted to go to Dallas instead. So my plans changed last minute. I am extremely glad that I got the opportunity to open a new restaurant.
What's the deal with food?
I think that every person has a passion for some kind of food in some shape or form.
Whether cooking it, eating it, watching people create it, or reading about it. Food is constantly changing. So it's exciting. I also believe that food brings people together. Food reminds people about different periods or experiences of their lives. Food is that common denominator that people can share with one another.
Who has eaten at your place and who do you expect to have as your guests? (Come one, give us the goods.)
We have had a slew of celebrities in to dine. Some of my favorites are Emmitt Smith, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Common, Tiffany Derry, and Miles Austin. Also, just recently, we had DeShawn Stevenson come in with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after the parade.
Who works at your place?
We have people from all walks of life. I would describe it as one big dysfunctional family. There are mothers, fathers, students, veterans, different ethnicities, and beliefs. One thing everyone has in common is that we all like to have fun and joke around. One time we put some pickled ginger juice in a cambro. We put some maraschino cherries, sliced pineapples, and crushed ice in the juice. Then we labeled it pink lemonade and sat it out for everyone to enjoy.
What is up with the national food scene and how does your restaurant fit into it? Organic and all natural food is the trend these days. We try to get the best local ingredients available. We also try to use farm raised and sustainable fish at all times.
If you could stab one food network person who would it be? Ina Garten
If you could be best friends with one food network person who would it be?
Why are so many people in the US so fat?
I think that for some people they just can't help themselves when it comes to food. Some food is so good that it becomes controlling. I know for me it's ice cream.
Check back tomorrow for more with Pache.