EatDrinkJax.com interviews Dennis Chan, head chef and owner of Blue Bamboo.
Talking hip Asian comfort food with Chef Dennis Chan of Blue Bamboo
1. Tell us about Blue Bamboo.
Blue Bamboo is a fun, casual eatery with modern twists on Southern comfort food and Asian favorites.
2.What do you mean by modern twists?
My training is in classic European cooking. At Blue Bamboo, we take those cooking techniques, in terms of presentation and flavors, and apply them to Southern and Asian cooking.
Image by Linda Blakely
3. Do you cover a lot of Asian styles or are you focused on a particular region?
What we do at Blue Bamboo is based on the travels that I, or the staff, have done, more than a specific area. This applies to our travels anywhere in the world. For example, we'll occasionally bring Puerto Rican, Italian, or South American food into our menu because it's where we've travelled, and enjoyed our eating time there. Our food often evokes a food memory for someone who may have been somewhere or creates an interest for someone who may want to experience someplace in the future.
Image by Linda Blakely
4. How do you create the recipes out of your travels?
When we travel, we eat, eat, and eat. Our experiences inspire us to create recipes based on those travels and ingredients. We take the training we have and put our own style to it. Our portions are hearty because we like to eat. We often take a recipe and see how its best presented, and make sure that it has lots of flavor. Some call what we do, "fusion." That word is probably one of the most misused words around. If two cultures are combined on a plate, there had better be some cultural significance behind it.
5. You sometimes describe your food as "hip Asian comfort food." What makes the food "hip?"
It's the food many of us grew up on, presented in a new and exciting way. There are so many items on our menu that bring back memories of life experiences. Our hip Asian comfort food is simply the food that makes people feel good, taken to a new level of presentation and flavor.
6. What kind of food did you grow up with?
My family has had 12 restaurants here in Jacksonville over the last 6 decades. My mom would call after school and ask what I wanted her to bring home for dinner when she did not want to make dinner at home. Some of the classic Chinese dishes I grew up with end up on our menu with a modern twist. We have a fried shrimp appetizer on our menu that we did decades ago in my family's restaurants. That's a classic dish that we now combine with some Thai chili flavors coated with Japanese bread crumbs, giving the dish a whole new texture. I like to incorporate techniques and things I've learned that make the recipes better - more modern, and hip.