Food News

Frito-Lay Chef Jody Denton on Brainstorming Sessions for New Flavors and When A Big Idea Hits

Chef Jody Denton had a 35-year restaurant career that spanned the globe and included work with some of the best chefs in the country, among them names like master chef Ernst Gruch, Dean Fearing and Wolfgang Puck. Then about a year ago, he left all that for an office job. But he still gets to wear a chef's coat. We recently sat down with chef Denton as he explained, among other things, how to put an entire meal on a chip and how the Doritos Locos taco shell for Taco Bell all went down.

When did you first get into cooking? As a kid I always cooked breakfast, I learned how to make omelets, pancakes and stuff like that. Then, in high school I got my first job flipping steaks at a steakhouse.

My dad loved food, wine and culture. He also noticed I liked cooking. Well, he had a friend at a culinary school and called him up and got a lot of information from him. Then, one day called me up into his room and had it all laid out like a presentation for a board of directors. And it was the only time in my life that anyone had a suggestion on what I should do with my life that I actually got excited about.

Where did you grow up? I was born in Austin, lived in Dallas until I was 7, then we moved Napa, California, which is where my dad really got that appreciation for food and wine. Napa culture really sucked him in. Then, he passed that on to me. We moved back to Dallas when I was 12.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.