Meet the Chef: Brandon Woo

Photo by Michael Donahue, Michael Donahue/The Commercial Apepal // Buy this photo

Title: Executive chef, Bonne Terre Country Inn and Café in Nesbit, Miss.

Age: 33

Hometown: Memphis.

Who or what was your first cooking influence? I used to watch a lot of cooking shows on Saturday morning. You know, like on PBS. I was a PBS junkie. I still am. Kids used to watch little cartoons and whatever. I used to watch cooking shows. That's how I learned. I still do that to this day.

What was the first thing you ever cooked or baked? I'm not sure if this is the first thing I ever cooked, but the first thing that comes to mind is cooking a turkey at Thanksgiving with my father. And I was probably 7.

What made you decide to become a chef, and when was that? I had my degrees in psychology and geology from Vanderbilt, and I was working on my PhD in computer science. ... My PhD was taking a little bit longer than I expected. ... I Kind of got tired of it, and I wasn't enjoying what I was doing. At the same time, my father was having some health issues. ... I decided to take a little bit of a break from school. And I saw an ad where they (Bonne Terre) needed held with computers in the kitchen. They took me in. The chef that was here at the time left after a few months after I got here. Then I filled in the void.

What was your first food-related job? This.

What is the Brandon Woo style? Contemporary American cuisine with emphasis on seasonal ingredients.

Describe a dish you created. A spring pea pesto with pistachio nuts and mint.

What do you cook or bake at home, if anything? Mostly Chinese food. And some American food.

What's your favorite food? Dim sum.

What's your least favorite food? Liver.

Bonne Terre Country Inn and Café, 4715 Church Road W. in Nesbit, Miss.; (662) 781-5100.

-- Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797; donahue@commercialappeal.com

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