Chef Q&A: Kevin Brune, NOLA Avalon Park

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A third-generation Louisiana native, Chef Kevin Brune helped to develop Mardi Gras at Universal Studios and brought Voodoo Kitchen to the Orlando food truck scene before opening NOLA at Marketplace in Avalon Park.

An Interview with Kevin Brune

If you could travel anywhere in the world to eat for one week, where would it be? Europe. Geographically, I could cover a lot of ground and experience multiple classic culinary influences.

Who had the biggest influence on the way you cook, and why? My late brother, Mike. He once told me that, when you’re cooking our (Louisiana) food, you’re not just feeding someone. You’re representing our region and our culture, so don’t mess it up.

What’s something you always wished you could prepare, and why? Pastry and desserts, like really high-end stuff. The different skill sets needed, combined with a certain level of artistry would be a challenge.

What was your favorite lunch as a kid? Peanut butter and banana sammie.

What three things are in your fridge at all times? Trinity vegetables (onions, celery, bell pepper), eggs, and hot sauces.

If you weren’t a chef, what would your dream job be? I already lived them! I coached soccer at the collegiate level, I’ve worked professionally both on and off camera in television and film, I was the Director of Entertainment for two of the best theme parks in the world (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure), and I was the Director of Events for the American Culinary Federation where I traveled the country organizing and executing their regional conferences and National Conventions. This one is different though because I’m turning a hobby into a “built from the ground up” business venture, first by creating Voodoo Kitchen Food Truck from scratch and operating it for 8 years, and now by entering the Food Hall arena with NOLA Avalon Park!

Advice for New Chefs

What advice would you share with chefs just beginning their careers? 1) Be humble. You will make mistakes – own them and learn from them. 2) No task is beneath you. You have to know every single aspect of what it takes to operate a kitchen. Take out the garbage – you’ll see how much waste can be eliminated. Sweep the floors – you’ll learn to operate more efficiently and considerately so you won’t make the same messes for the shift that follows yours. 3) Become indispensable- offer to help with any task, ask questions, volunteer to stay late or come in early to shadow an experienced chef. The more you know how to do, the more you will be able to do which translates into value for either your current employer or your future one.

What’s one thing you would change about the Orlando food scene? Fewer chains and more patrons who are more willing to try something different. Oh… and no more chicken joints.

For more Chef Q&A’s, visit our archives.

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