Daniel Corey has a sustainable approach to cuisine – an approach he utilizes as chef de cuisine at Luce in the InterContinental San Francisco. His love for California makes sourcing ingredients locally a must, and it was only a matter of time before Corey won the restaurant a Michelin star in October 2011. Corey lets us in on favorite ingredients, his travels and Luce menu favorites…
What’s different about your food?
I guess it’s not really bound by any one cooking philosophy, other than freshness of ingredients. I just cook how I feel…
Are you constantly making changes? How so?
Yes. We are always trying to continually evolve the concept and menu items. If I get a new ingredient that I’m excited about, I’ll change a couple of things in a particular dish. Generally, we are tweaking things on a daily basis, adding a little of this, taking away a little of that.
What’s special about your menu?
We offer a fairly large à la carte menu each night, but also offer a nine-course tasting menu Tuesday through Saturday. The tasting menu consists of dishes you will not find on our daily a la carte menu.
We also aren’t overly descriptive on the menu, which I think always creates a unique experience for guests. We chose to not be too descriptive because what we do is so ingredient driven – for us, it’s about letting the ingredients shine.
How do your travels and experiences play into your restaurant?
When I travel I eat out a lot, so obviously I’m going to take some of that home with me. Whether it’s a diner, street food, or fine-dining, there is always a little source of inspiration.
When I was in Paris, I went to L’Astrance – a three Michelin star restaurant – and was not only blown away by the food and service, but also by the ambiance. With many Michelin star restaurants, the environment has a lot of white tablecloths, white dishes, and fine glassware. L’Astrance had different colored plates and other design accents that personalized the space a bit more and seemed to reflect the Chef’s personality. The same thing at L’Arpege; no flowers on the white tablecloths, but instead there were “bouquets” of vegetables! After that trip, I came back to Luce, and we decided to start making a few changes – adding a shared pre-amuse “snack”, and other more personal touches.
Your go-to recipe when cooking outside the restaurant for family and friends…
Roast Chicken or Pork Shoulder with some really good rustic/crusty bread. These make for a full proof meal; everyone eats it, it’s extremely communal and very easy to prepare. When I eat with family and friends, the meal can last for hours just from catching up around the table. Roast Chicken and Pork Shoulder are the types of dishes you can see yourself going back to for a second helping hours later.
Can you share some menu favorites from Luce?
Handmade Sweetbread Ravioli, Crispy Sweetbreads and Truffle
Abalone and Diver Scallop, Pumpkin “Skin” and Sun Dried Spices, Duck Jus – I don’t think people use enough Abalone on menus in the Bay Area. It’s one of my favorite ingredients to feature.
Veloute of Celeriac & Apple, Compressed Apple, Coffee Iced Milk – This is one of those dishes that constantly surprises Luce guests. Everyone that orders it loves it!
Roasted Quail & Speck, Smoked Baby Potatoes, Pickled Kumquats & Cress
Filet of Beef, Slowly Cooked in Olive Oil and Herbs, Ramp Leaf and Oxtail Marmalade – I love this seasonal dish. Ramps are one of my favorite ingredients. In this dish, we julienne the ramp leaf and fold into the oxtail marmalade. The flavor is amazing!
What are your favorite cities to travel for food? What spots do you go to there?
When I’m in New York, my favorite spot is Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It’s absolutely worth the ride out of Manhattan to get there. I just love what they are doing – from the culinary team right down to the core philosophy. I always leave inspired!
I love Paris for its food scene – there are so many top notch restaurants. You can have a different experience every night. My favorite places to go in Paris are Spring, L’Astrance, Le Comptoir, and L’As du Falafel.
Oakland, California is reshaping the culinary scene in the Bay Area. The restaurants opening on the other side of the Bay continue to amaze. I’m always stopping and checking something out when I’m driving through. I love Dopo for its simple, Italian food. Last time I was at Dopo I ordered two of the prawn ravioli dishes, one right after the other – incredible! Camino, opened by Chez Panisse alums offers delicious pure and rustic cuisine. It’s one of my favorite neighborhood spots. Taqueria Sinaloa has what I think are some of the best tacos in the East Bay. They set up shop in a parking lot in Oakland and you can’t go wrong with the carne asada or carnitas tacos.
I grew up going to Las Golondrinas in Orange County, CA. The hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant was and still is my go-to spot when I’m down there. Their breakfast is absolutely amazing. They have the best Machaca burrito with beef, eggs, tomatoes, and potatoes and they also do some pretty great breakfast tacos.