This week’s Guest Q&A is with an exceedingly inventive and motivated chef from one of Durango’s newest fine dining restaurants, PLATE. A graduate of the prestigious University of Houston’s Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Chef Tyler has a strong connection with Southwestern cuisine, and turned down a full-ride football scholarship to pursue his dream of becoming an executive chef. Lucky us! he has brought his hip Southwest Fusion to Durango.
You may recognize him from his appearance on the Food Network television program Chopped … a mad, rapid fire competitive cooking show where chefs have 20 minutes to create three rounds of dishes worthy of the ten thousand dollar prize, all from surprise ingredients. He reached the impressive final dessert round, and then the judges found the raspberry sauce to his adventurous Spicy Raspberry Shortcakes with Paprika and Cinnamon Fried Chicken Skin with Sweet Potato Molasses Ice Cream to be … well … too spicy. We are huge fans of his PLATE menu and creations celebrating chile peppers. And yes, some people have more sensitivity to heat than others. A few of our favorite journeys on the Chef Tyler menu are: prawns with bacon dust, sweet tea brined pulled pork, cuban fish tacos and sous vide hanger steak tacos. The adventure continues!
A man on a mission with a mantra that is very telling as to why his restaurant is so successful, we are pleased to introduce Chef Tyler Henderson …
SWD GUEST Q&A:
SWD: Are you originally from the Southwest? If not, what brought you to the area?
Chef Tyler: I am originally from South Texas. Pearland, Texas to be exact. The owner of PLATE moved me from Texas after trying my food. Before then, I had only been to Las Cruces, New Mexico where my grandmother lived.
SWD: Soft Tacos or Crunchy?
Chef Tyler: I’m a soft corn tortilla taco guy, or homemade flour tortillas will do.
SWD: What is your favorite adventure or getaway in the Southwest?
Chef Tyler: My favorite getaway so far has been hiking in and around Durango, Colorado.
SWD: What is your favorite Southwestern National Park?
Chef Tyler: I really enjoyed the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park.
SWD: Red or Green (or Christmas)?
Chef Tyler: I’m a green sauce guy. But I do enjoy the occasional red.
SWD: What is the most satisfying aspect of what you do?
Chef Tyler: Walking the dining room and hearing what people have to say about their meal and experience. Also, just having the freedom to cook what I want with what’s available in this amazing region.
SWD: What is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Chef Tyler: The most challenging aspect of what I do would have to be the office work. I hate sitting down.
SWD: Corn or flour tortillas?
Chef Tyler: Corn!!! or freshly made flour tortillas.
SWD: Do you cook? What do you love to make?
Chef Tyler: Absolutely not. Just kidding, cooking is the only thing I live for (besides eating). I like to mix Texas flavors with southwest flavors. I love experimenting with dried chilies, and other indicative ingredients of the southwest region. I love to change it up often, I don’t like cooking the same thing over and over, which forces me to constantly be on my toes and changing menus here at PLATE.
SWD: What do you absolutely refuse to eat?
Chef Tyler: Ketchup! it’s the worst!
SWD: This may have just been answered, but … What are your thoughts on menudo (and no, we don’t mean the boy band)?
Chef Tyler: I love menudo. Growing up in South Texas, I have been exposed since I was a child to these dishes that some might find bizarre. After high school I would go to a taqueria for cow tongue tacos, menudo, and tripas! I will say I like a textural difference when eating menudo, such as fried corn tortillas, etc!
SWD: If you hypothetically moved away from the Southwest, what would you ask people to send to you in a care package? What would you miss the most about the Southwest?
SWD: Is there a Southwest destination you’ve been wanting to visit?
SWD: Do you have a mantra?
Chef Tyler: Think like a scientist, organize like an accountant, motivate like a warrior, move like a track star, plate like an artist, cook like a grandma. 🙂
Note: check the Plate website, as they may have closed for remodeling.