Dino McDonough joined the crew at Slater's 50/50 a little more than three years ago, shortly after the company launched its Anaheim Hills location. After a first round of indulgent interviewing, we begin to understand the kind of role food plays in his life. Excellent taste in Halloween costumes and a hidden artistry are some of his other attributes that entertain us in today's segment.
When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
I cook a lot at home right now because I'm trying to train Ryder, an 8-month-old pit bull. He's a
Tell us about your tattoos:
I got the pig broken down with all the different cuts. I have one that says, “Home is where the heart is.” I've been moving around all my life, and especially in this career path, I have the flexibility to move from city to city. I've never been afraid of that; I've been able to find my feet wherever I am.
I've got a Massachusetts-shaped Italian flag. When my father passed, I got my last name as a tattoo. And one is inspired from one of my favorite movies, Mystic River. My most recent one is a cookie cutout of a KitchenAid (mixer).
Last song(s) playing on your radio/smart phone/iPod:
AC/DC, Motley Crue and Frank Sinatra. When I'm at home cooking dinner, I like Sinatra with a glass of wine. I like classic rock when I'm in the kitchen or when I'm driving. Music is important for your whole mood. It gives you energy.
Where did you grow up? If you're not from Orange County, what brought you here?
I'm from the East Coast. I was born in Boston, moved to NYC, then to OC for the weather.
How do you divide your work schedule between the locations?
I work closely with the entire Slater's 50/50 management team. We solve problems with permanent solutions quickly. My experience in kitchens really gives me a bird's-eye view when I tackle situations.
Hardest lesson you've learned:
Growing up very poor taught me to appreciate life from another perspective.
What's your favorite childhood memory?
Cooking in the kitchen with my mother. She has always been my inspiration for cooking. She taught me that hard work pays off. I used to peel shrimp and wash dishes for her. That was always special.
Favorite Halloween costume:
Lewis from Revenge of the Nerds this past Halloween. My hair was all parted like Alfalfa. I wore it all day here. My girlfriend was the blond cheerleader.
What were you up to five years ago?
Working for a prestigious catering company in NYC and saving up for the big move to California.
I like Thanksgiving because I get to show off my skills in the kitchen. It's also the least amount of pressure for a holiday. I have a huge family Back East, and we like to cook, make daiquiris and go in the hot tub in the freezing cold.
Last book you read:
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I've read that book at least three times, and I don't make much time to read.
Last thing you looked up/searched online:
My freezer just broke, so I was looking up coffin freezers because my ice cream was melting all over the floor.
Do you have any skills that are not food-related?
I have always had an interest in art. I attended Laguna College of Art and Design. It is hard to find time to draw, but it's a great hobby, and I hope to go back to it someday.
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
Most likely pursuing a career in graphic art. Since I was a kid, I've always drawn characters or still-life. Maybe something in advertising, or Disney or Pixar.