The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2015

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Page 87 of 140

april 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  87 I t must have been quite a cultural shock for Chef Tim Dacey—moving from the urban funk of Brooklyn, where he was sous at the wildly eclectic, brick-walled warehouse space called Reynard, to the slick, soothing, ever so gentile world of Capa, a tapas res- taurant in the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. But then, this is a cook whose life has been filled with cultural upheavals. He was born in Boston and raised in Florida, where he earned a degree in political science from Florida State. Before he graduated, his culinary experience consisted of delivering pizzas for a shop called Three Guys from New York. Which is as unexpected a road to fine dining as one could imagine. Merrill Shindler: You delivered pizza? Tim Dacey: Well, I'd help out in the kitchen too. Making pizza is like riding a bike. Once you learn how, you never forget how to do it. So . . . why aren't you working at Domino's? After finishing school, I didn't know what I wanted to do. My mother cooked dinner every night, so I had no home experience. And she suggested I should go to culinary school if I didn't know what to do. It was more a vocation than a calling. But instead, you found your first real job in the help wanted ads? I had no experience. It was a leap of faith to hire me. I started at an Italian restaurant in the Renaissance Hotel, which is where I met Chef Fabrizio Schenardi. And he taught me everything. You started at the bottom? I peeled potatoes. I separated eggs. I learned that there was so much I didn't know. It was like cooking school—I learned to grill, to sauté—and I got paid for it. You've cooked in Florida, New York and Chicago. And you keep returning to Florida. What's the appeal? Simple: Chicago is so cold; Tampa is so hot. I'll take hot over cold. That cold is brutal. My sense of Florida is, it's like Hawaii— you drop a seed on the ground, and there's a tree a month later . . . Not quite. The weather can be unpredict- able. There are brutal storms. Everything grows—but just for a few months. Still, I'm finding local farmers who do amazing produce. I've been pickling green strawber- ries, locally picked. What do you cook at home? If I cook—which is almost never for myself—it's for friends and family. I go back to the classics, especially fresh pasta. People think it's so difficult. Actually it's easy and fun. Where'd your passion for bourbon come from? I got tired of nickel beers and well drinks. I wanted something more than that. I found a bar in San Francisco that had maybe 200 bourbons. It became my drink. You do your cooking at a hotel in Walt Disney World. Is that where you go on your free time? Not yet—I don't have the time. But I've got an annual pass. So I will. And is there a Guilty Pleasure? I'm not a sweet person. I'm a salty person—that's why I like tapas so much. If I open a can of cashews or peanuts, they'll be gone. CHEFS: ONE-ON-ONE WITH MERRILL SHINDLER m Dacey CAPA AT FOUR SEASONS ORLANDO PHOTO COURTESY OF FOUR SEASONS ORLANDO

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