Luke's Local Former Chefs: Featuring Blair Warsham

April 11, 2024

Luke's Local Former Chefs: Featuring Blair Warsham

Welcome to the next installment of "Luke's Local Chefs: Where Are They Now?" In this series, we delve into the journeys of some of the remarkable chefs who have collaborated with Luke's Local over the years. Join us as we explore what these culinary talents have been up to since their tenure at Luke's.

Next up: Chef Blair Warsham!

What's your name, how long were you at Luke's Local, and what was your role when you were at Luke's Local?
My name is D. Blair Warsham, and I was with Luke's as one of the rotating guest chefs doing meal kits. I also did some product development. It was in their infancy, back in 2010-2012 I believe.

Do you have any meals or recipes you still associate with your time at Luke's - whether it be something you loved to make or eat for a family meal, or something that you cooked for meal boxes / the deli?
There are a few sauces I still make from time to time that I developed for Luke's burritos. They were selling a ton of burritos then and my role was to develop and expand the recipes for production. Some of the sauces made it onto menus down the road at places like Wildseed, a plant based restaurant project here in SF.

I recall a Singaporian chicken and rice dish I made for a meal kit that I now make for friends and family gatherings when I get the craving. It's a truly understated, and simple dish with layers of complexity that sneak up on ya!

Do you have any favorite memories or a funny story that comes to mind from your time at Luke's?
No particular anecdote comes to mind, but the relationships that came out of Luke's kitchen are friends and professional professional relationships that have stood the test of time. I still keep in touch with 4-5 of them regularly. I've had calls with 3 of the former chefs in the past week, where we're collaborating on new ventures. I can't say that about most friends from almost 15 years ago.

What have you been up to since you left Luke's? Have you continued cooking? In what capacity? Do you have other hobbies you've continued to enjoy since leaving Luke?
I still cook some, for consulting projects here and there, but not on a regular basis like in a restaurant. Currently I am Director of Development for a restaurant group, Hi Neighbor. We are consulting on a number of projects in the Bay. The one consuming most of my time at the moment is The Cliff House. My role is to demise the space into leasable units and find the perfect product mix of tenants - similar to the Ferry Building. It's a lot of different hats from the days of burrito development.

What's your go-to thing to eat when you've had a long day and you just need something that will come together in under ten minutes?
No such thing in my world. After work, I do all the cooking for my family: a 7 year old who wants kid food; a vegan wife; and myself who eats mostly Mediterranean, but always wants something restaurant quality. The cooking itself helps me transition from the work day and be present.

As for 10 min quickies; I am a firm believer in the frozen pizza shnazzle. There are some pretty solid frozen pizzas out there. Add some fresh toppings, like leftover grilled broccolini, a little extra cheese (because they always skimp on the cheese for costs), and badda bing. A few minutes on the pizza stone, some fresh parm and olive oil when it comes out of the oven and you have yourself a seriously affordable upgrade.

Describe your perfect deli sandwich.
The Market in Inverness used to have it, but they changed their recipe. It was a sandwich worthy of an hour's drive. Everything was made in-house but the cheese, so I get why they may have had to stop. They would add thick cut layers of house smoked pastrami, tart fermented cabbage, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and thick cut marble rye sourdough. All of it goes on the griddle till crispy. It's probably 2000 calories with the chips I add to the middle, but it was a sandwich dreams are made of.

If you could give a home cook only one cooking "tip" what would it be?
I use stock in the place of water in a lot of dishes: it gives dishes an extra layer of craveability. If stock would water it down, I like to sneak a little Better than Bouillon in there. The "no chicken" or "veggie" work great. It puts little things like vinaigrettes over the top. Just don't forget to account for the extra sodium.

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