Chef Dave’s Travels


International Cuisine

By Kelly O’Quinn

If there was one literal word to describe Chef Dave Dennis, it would be cosmopolitan. Having traveled to seven different countries as a scuba instructor/chef on various charter boats and yachts, Chef Dennis has learned the use of multiple unique cooking methods and recipes from around the world which he incorporates into his distinct Mexican Fusion cuisine at The Matador Cantina in Downtown Fullerton. When we asked him which ethnic cuisine he found most interesting, his list seemed never-ending! With such an expansive knowledge of world-wide cuisine, Chef Dennis is the go-to man for an unrivaled culinary experience. Here, we asked him to feature one cooking method he learned, an interesting popular ingredient, and his favorite dish from three of the countries he has traveled to.

One Thing I Learned
I learned unique food pairings in Denmark, such as meat, cheese, and jam all in the
same dish. Also, the pairing of the national alcoholic beverage, “Akvavit”, with

Interesting Ingredient
Cured fish, especially pickled herring. Surprisingly, pickled herring is incorporated into
almost every meal.

Favorite Dish
Open-face sandwiches, or “Smorrebrod”. There is an art to making the Danish open
face sandwich. For instance, each sandwich has particular ingredients and the bread is
not supposed to be visible on the sandwich. The bread is also very unique and almost
impossible to find in the US. The variety in the sandwiches makes them appealing to the
eye and fun to create and eat!

Costa Rica
One Thing I Learned
How to take very simple ingredients and make them exciting and taste great.

Interesting Ingredient
Black beans and plantains.Also, really good coffee in Costa Rica.

Favorite Dish
“Comida Typical” is the traditional dish in Costa Rica.It consists of a meat, such as
beef, pork, or chicken, served with white rice, black beans, and fried plantains.I like
this meal because it can be embellished with sauces, herbs, and seasonings.
Sometimes the simplest meal is the best.I also loved the preparation of their coffee
drink “cafe con leche.”This is coffee with hot milk.It sounds simple, but it
is so much better than a latte!

One Thing I Learned
I learned how to take the meat out of a conch shell.The meat is very hard to get out
unless you know the technique, which makes it very simple.

Interesting Ingredient
They use conch in a lot of their dishes. I love conch and think it is delicious! They also
use Nassau Grouper in their cuisine. It can be fried, grilled, and used in soups
and sauces.

Favorite Dish
Some unique dishes I loved to eat were the conch chowder, conch fritters, Ox Tail soup,
and Johnny cake.

We invite you to share your international cuisine experience! If you have visited another country with an interesting cuisine, we’d love to hear about it! To post your own experience, or to comment on Chef Dave Dennis’s travels, Leave a Reply below this article. Tell us the most important thing that you learned, the most interesting ingredient, and your favorite dish.

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