Chef Dan is impressing even the most discerning foodies with his contemporary takes on classic dishes and creative flavour combinations. Recognized by OpenTable’s Diner’s Choice Awards in 2022 this will likely be the first of many awards for this culinary gem. I chatted with Dan to see how he comes up with his delicious menu, what inspires him, and his favourite dish at Brazen.
JR: Where do you pull your inspiration from when creating the menu?
DJ: “I don’t watch cooking shows or anything on social media. All my ideas come at the heat of the moment. Working under pressure gives me the best result.”
JR: What makes Brazen so special? Describe the atmosphere and what sets the menu apart
DJ: Located in a historical landmark like the Mount Royal Hotel truly allows us to show off our identity. The 1920s atmosphere is reflected in the décor and setting but is met with a new school twist.
JR: What is one dish from your current menu you think any newcomer to Brazen should definitely try?
DJ: Ginger Beef! It was invented in Calgary 40 years ago and I wanted the tourists to try something that was local and showcases the new version of a common dish everyone is familiar with.
JR: How has your cooking style evolved over the years? Which chefs, if any, have inspired you?
DJ: That’s like asking me what my favourite colour is. It changes regularly. I’ve been an artist my whole life and never stuck to one medium or style, that’s why I’m able to push and break boundaries.
JR: What would your closest friends say is your signature dish?
DJ: They wouldn’t say I have a signature dish. When I cook for friends or family members, I don’t repeat the same dishes. I like keeping it fresh and different while having fun and playing around with new recipes.
JR: What are 3 herbs or spices that you find really make a dish pop?
DJ: If people think three spices or herbs will change a dish… they’re wrong! That’s like asking to draw a picture with a three pack of crayons. It’s like not understanding colour theory. Spices and herbs all play off other ingredients and every dish is different. If I were to give an answer it would be salt and pepper.
JR: Unrestricted by finances, language barriers, or other logistics, if you could go anywhere for a year to immerse yourself in a new culinary culture, where would it be? What would you want to learn?
DJ: I want to go where there are as few people as possible! Ideally, I would live off the land. Other than that, I’ve already moved to Banff and did what I wanted to do.
JR: When you’re not in the kitchen, what do you get up to in your free time?
DJ: Most of the time I’m a homebody. As I become older, I like my personal space. Working in the industry I’m always trying to make guests and staff happy. If I have free time, I like to spend it on myself and recharge. When I do go out, I like to get tattooed, I’m a sucker for pain.
If you don’t have Valentine’s plans yet, make reservations to enjoy Dan’s 5 course chef menu and wine pairing. When you see the deliciousness that’s offered for dessert you’ll be tempted to skip ahead. Enjoy!