"We had the Peppered Pineapple and it was the first time I ever cried tears of overwhelming joy from deliciousness."
Dominique Stoller began her kitchen career fateful Valentine’s Day.
While Stoller was working in a front-of-house position at Tavolino Ristorante Italiano, a line cook passed out. She jumped in and began working a few kitchen shifts a week.
Further down the line (not that line), Stoller’s chef brother Chad helped guide and train her when she helped open Contigo in 2010 as the executive chef. There, she met her soon-to-be husband Morgan and stepped away from the kitchen to have her son Maxamillion.
Afterwards, Stoller returned to the kitchen with her own catering company, Doma’s Delights. She eventually received a phone call that ended up landing her the position as executive pastry chef and general manager at HUB Ice Cream Factory. She is also the event and catering chef for Playground Bar & Lounge.
1) What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
The peppered pineapple at the Grand Hyatt Wailea [now known as the Grand Wailea] in Maui, Hawaii.
I was 15, with my mom, and we were having dinner together (and it was amazing). I can’t remember what we ate because we had the Peppered Pineapple for dessert and it was the first time I ever cried tears of overwhelming joy from deliciousness. I also started to kind of hyperventilate, I swear — you can ask my mom.
It was the brightest, flavorful pineapple sautéed in brown butter with freshly cracked black pepper, served over creamy coconut ice cream with a dark chocolate drizzle.
It was so simple and clean — it touched my soul. It made me start to think about flavor combos in a whole new way.
I made an ice cream play on that flavor once called the Black Dragon. It was a 50/50 swirl of a fresh dragon fruit and pineapple sorbet and black-pepper coconut-cream ice cream.
2) What are you eating these days?
I am eating super healthy these days — I need to find balance while being surrounded by sugar all day, every day. At home, I’ve been making big soups like red pozole; a roasted vegetable soup with roasted red peppers, cream, and Parmesan; and bone broth French onion. Also, I’ve been making fresh young coconut ceviche and it’s so addicting.
Doma’s Young Coconut Ceviche Recipe
- Two fresh young coconuts whacked open (save the water inside for chugging)
- Three limes
- A ripe avocado
- Handful chopped cilantro, serranos, and scallions
- Corn chips
- Pull out the meat and chop it up before adding it to a bowl;
- Zest a lime and juice it, plus two more into the bowl;
- Add the ripe avocado, some chopped cilantro, chopped serranos and some scallions;
- Mix it all together and add some salt and pepper;
- Eat it with freshly fried corn chips.
That’s my jam right now.
3) What was the first dish you remember cooking?
Baked mac and cheese and Caprese salad. My mom had this cookbook that had all these summer-night meal ideas and that was my favorite.
I was 16-ish and invited a few of my friends over from school for dinner and made it all myself.
4) What concept, ingredient, or food trend are you experimenting with these days?
Vegan stuff. I have a lot of friends and family who have diet restrictions and allergies.
I’m an emotional eater and when I have to pump the brakes on eating food that makes me happy, it makes me sad. So vegan desserts are something I love experimenting with.
Currently, I’m working on a vegan almond sorbet with similar steps used when making almond water. Instead of soaking almonds in sugar water, however, I’m soaking them in fresh young coconut water that is slightly sweetened with vegan non-GMO sugar.
5) Who would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
6) What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
Los Angeles, CA.
7) Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Rocco’s 21-inch deep-dish half-cheese half-veggie pizza. I can eat the entire thing by myself, just saying. Also, In-n-Out’s grilled cheese “animal style” with extra cheese and “animal fries” (and a Dr. Pepper). A third would be Olive Garden’s endless salad bowl and breadsticks with their Alfredo.
8) Which three Tucson restaurants do you frequent the most, aside from your own?
9) With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
Giordano’s deep-dish half cheese half-veggie pizza in Chicago, with a big, fat Olive Garden salad (extra dressing), endless ice-cold Mexican Cokes in a bottle, and the Peppered Pineapple from the Grand Hyatt in Maui.
Catch Dominique Stoller at HUB Ice Cream Factory, 245 E. Congress St. For more information, visit hubicecream.com.