On the Line: Dave Dennis of Matador Cantina, Part Two

On the Line: Dave Dennis of Matador Cantina, Part Two

Matador Cantina's resident chef took time out from his status as new father to answer some of our burning questions, like his favorite bourbon pairing. He also provides some history on the building the restuarant is housed in. To find out what you've missed so far, be sure to click here. Stop by Thursday for our final installment, for which Dave breaks down a spicy recipe.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
That you can't cook to your taste. You have to appease the masses, know your guests and can't make everyone happy.

What would you last meal on Earth be?
Poached eggs on salt-rising bread--which isn't made anymore--with a cold coconut to drink.

Who's your hero, culinary or otherwise?

My mom.

Tell us about your food-service-industry background.
It started when I was 13 years old, working for an event company making cotton candy. Then I moved on to Arby's when I was 15. After that, I moved onto working with seafood on boats and yachts. After culinary school, I worked at Ruth's Chris and King's Fish House, with several other restaurants in between. Now I have my home at the Matador Cantina.

What do you consider Mexican-inspired cuisine?
A lot of Southern Californian cuisine has been inspired by Mexican cuisine.

Tell us about the history behind Fullerton's oldest building.
It started out as a stable to keep horses overnight. Then it turned into a hardware store. After a few years, it became Mickey's [a local bar]. Once that closed, it became Rockin Taco, and then the Matador Cantina.

Congratulations on being a new father! How's the sleep deprivation? What have you learned about being a dad?
It's great. I just can't believe how much poop comes out of something so small.

What was your favorite combination at your recent bourbon-pairing dinner?
I would say the bacon-bourbon French onion soup with smoked Cheddar paired with Mitchers 10-year single barrel.

What dish would you tell newcomers to Matador Cantina to try first?
The chili relleno or the chorizo ravioli.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I would be on a sailboat halfway across the world.

What advice do you have for those who might be thinking about a career in food?
Make sure you have a deep passion for it. If not, you are in for a rough ride.

What do you see yourself doing in five years? Ten years?
I will have my own show on the Food Network.

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