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Chef Dan

Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2023

Favorite class to teach: Knife Skills or Seafood on the Grill

Training/education: Associates of Culinary Arts from Kendall College, currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management from Kendall College

Cooking since: Professionally since 2017 but grew up in a cooking-heavy household

Favorite childhood food experience: Using my family as recipe guinea-pigs growing up, mostly to great success. Mostly.

What made you want to become a chef? The creativity and excitement of making food, and the reaction people get when they eat delicious food.

What is your signature dish? Grilled bone-in chicken thighs are requested often or BBQ pork belly

What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? (Besides salt and pepper) Fresh basil, fish sauce, vinegar (the funkier the better), Gochujang, fennel

What do you love about cooking? The vast amount of recipes, cultures and ingredients there are to learn about!

When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? Taking risks and learning from them, good or bad.

What advice would you give a new cook? Ask questions. The only way you are going to keep learning is if you keep asking questions.

What are you doing when you're not cooking? Watching movies with my partner and my cat, and drinking wine.

Describe your perfect evening. Dinner somewhere interesting, and hopping from bar to bar as the night goes on. Probably ending at a dive. Definitely ending with karaoke.

If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? COCO Vietnamese on Lawrence for Banh Mi for lunch, and dinner at The Delta in Wicker Park. End the night with a Pint and fries at O’Shaughnessy’s.

Where are you from? Palatine, IL

What was your favorite vacation? Tied between NOLA and Honolulu

What are your hobbies? Movies, eating, drinking and karaoke

What is your favorite band? Sammy Rae and the Friends

What is your favorite sports team? Unfortunately, the Bears

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Paul Rudd seems like a class act.

What are your guilty pleasures? Dark chocolate, corn dogs and Dr. Pepper

Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Andrew Zimmerman

What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?

  • Good tongs

  • Good spoon

  • Good knife

  • Two towels

List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.

  • Don’t be afraid of high heat! A lot of mistakes home cooks make are because they aren’t using enough heat when cooking.

  • Taste before AND after you season, if you don’t taste a difference after you add salt, it wasn’t enough salt.

  • Trust your intuition. If you think a recipe might be better one way or another, it’s probably true!

Dan's Favorite Ingredient


black & bleu

The Black and Bleu spice mix from Spiceology is a personal favorite of mine especially when used on beef.

I’m also obsessed with our Spanish wine selections: Albarino and pink Cava cannot do wrong!