Her ability to make magic in the kitchen has made Tiffany Derry one of America’s most celebrated young chefs. When Derry wowed judges from the seventh season of “Top Chef,” she was already a star in Dallas, where she was executive chef at the highly acclaimed Go Fish Ocean Club.
Not bad for a chef who had to fight her way into the kitchen while waiting tables at IHOP as a teenager. “I wanted to cook, but back then, they didn’t allow women in the kitchen,” says Derry, 31. By age 17, she was the youngest person ever to earn a management position in the company.
Since then, Derry has continued to prove her skills behind the stove and in the business office. As part of the new restaurant management team for Landry’s Inc., owner of top eateries all over the country, she helped new restaurants get off the ground.
“I only stayed on the property for three months to help them understand that running a restaurant is about a lot more than the food. You have to know how to run a business. Honestly, the launch phase was my favorite part of the job — somebody’s got to be in the eye of the storm,” says Derry, laughing about her enjoyment of working in start-up mode.
Next spring, those talents will be on display in Derry’s new show on Spike TV, “Hungry Investors.” The show’s team — which also includes renowned New Orleans chef John Besh — will “put two struggling restaurants to the test to prove they deserve a chance at success. The restaurant that shows the most promise of turning things around will win significant cash investment,” she explains.
A Surprising Holiday Treat
When it comes to holiday fare, Derry says, “I just love to do interesting side dishes.” And that’s exactly what she’s created for Fierce: a gorgeous, crunchy slaw that’s sweet, salty and savory, and the perfect complement to any holiday roast. It’s also guaranteed to turn Brussels sprouts into one of your favorite treats. Bonus? It features pecans one of nature’s healthiest foods.They protect against heart disease and lower cholesterol.
To other women who dream of running a restaurant of their own, Derry advises, “you have to be passionate about food, but also carefully focused on the concept and the financial picture. Go to work in someone else’s kitchen first to make sure you really want to do it.”
Shaved Brussels Salad with Cranberries, Candied Pecans and Pecorino Romano Cheese
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 pear, sliced thin
1 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup candied pecans, chopped large
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
¼ bunch parsley leaves, picked
Shave Brussels sprouts using an adjustable blade slicer to create a slaw. Slicing them thin gives them an incredibly delicate flavor.
Put shaved Brussels sprouts and all ingredients in a bowl, with ¾ of the pecans.
Set aside some pecans to top dish just before service and mix the rest with Brussels slaw.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve room temperature or chilled. Enjoy.
Approximate nutrition per serving: 250 calories; 21 g fat.
Servings: 6What do you think?