Tyler Lapotosky began his culinary at the opposite side of America in Burlington, Vermont.
Working at a summer restaurant on Lake Champlain, Lapotosky learned how to run a busy line and bring people together. He earned his degree at the New England Culinary Institute and then interned at a fine dining restaurant restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida.
After Lapotosky was comfortable applying his culinary training in the real world, he moved to Arizona to be closer to family. He started as a sous chef at the Cascade Lounge at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, then transitioned to the role of chef de cuisine at the Flying V Bar & Grill.
1) What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
My great-grandmother’s lasagna. I had the honor to spend a lot of time with her. My mother is the one who showed me how to construct this dish when I took a liking to cooking. Seeing how she layered the pasta and whipped the ricotta with fresh chives and garlic really ignited a spark in me.
2) What are you eating these days?
These days I am eating much healthier, as I am getting older. I used to come home and eat something simple like pizza or a sandwich. Now at home we are cooking fresh and healthy things like grilled chicken and salad, or on my days off, a nice steak on the charcoal grill with great vegetables and potatoes.
3) What was the first dish you remember cooking?
I have so many that I could really think of as “my first dish.” Something that always stands out to me is when I was younger, my close friend and I would create awesome marinades and rubs, put them on pork chops, then throw those on the grill. Not sure why that is burned into my memory but maybe that’s why I love to grill so much to this day. I do it whenever I have the opportunity, especially while camping, over an open flame.
4) What concept, ingredient, or food trend are you experimenting with these days?
I really don’t tend to gravitate towards trends. Of course, I see what is going on in the culinary word but I really like to cook simple. Great vegetables and meats really stand on their own and don’t need much to make them taste great. There is no reason to doctor up a dish so much that you can’t remember what it was you were looking for in the first place. Let the food speak for itself.
5) Who would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
There are many people that I could choose. For me, I would pick family members that have passed. When I first really started getting into cooking I had lost a few members of the family. I would love to cook side by side with them and show them how far I have come and share that great “kitchen experience” with them as I have shared with so many people over the years.
6) What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
There are so many places in the states that have a strong food scene these days. I have been lucky enough to live in four states and cook professionally in three of them. But I would have to choose the food scene over in Europe. They cook simple and let the food stand out, as I do. I love eating and traveling overseas.
7) Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
I love snacks, like pretzels with Dijon mustard or a great potato chip. But at the end of the day my favorite food in the world would have to be pizza.
8) Which three Tucson restaurants do you frequent the most, aside from your own?
I don’t get out much, but when I do, I like to eat at Wildflower American Cuisine. One of my great friends is the executive chef there and he never disappoints.
I also like Mantis Gourmet Chinese Food, it’s a small Chinese restaurant on my side of town, that has really fresh, made-to-order food.
Dickman’s Meat & Deli is a wonderful place as well, even though it’s not really a restaurant. They really convey what I like: fresh, quality ingredients. They also carry items you can’t find anywhere else in town.
9) With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
I would have to choose all my favorite foods – grilled rib eye, cut thick, baked potato with tons of butter and black pepper, spaghetti and meatballs with a lot of sauce, and a bunch of grilled vegetables with minced garlic.
Catch chef Tyler Lapotosky at the Flying V Bar & Grill at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort at 7000 N Resort Dr. More info at loewshotels.com.