Dave Valencia is a "desert rat", since birth. He was born and raised in the Old Pueblo and attending public schools. He enjoyed playing soccer in high school and spent about five years pursuing a career as a musician. Dave was a band's front man, singing lead and background vocals as well as played the guitar, piano and drums. He credits his musical ear to his grandfather who was a local well known mariachi. Dave also spent several summers touring the western states with the band and played several times at the Whisky A-Go-Go on Hollywood Boulevard in L.A. He currently works at Agustin Kitchen, along with his wildly cool side project Sanar, a pop up restaurant and a consultant job. Dave tells me he will be moving on very soon in order to open the forthcoming Fourth Avenue beer and wine bar/restaurant, Ermanos, as executive chef. Dave has worked for local chefs in Tucson such as his mentor Albert Hall and Ryan Clark, but has also worked for chefs in Chicago including Grant Achatz of Alinea, the late Charlie Trotter and Dennis Ashley Aubin of Wood.
What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
I had veal sweetbreads at C-house in Chicago with tomatoes, smoked buttermilk puree and candied pistachios. Professionally, the flavors, textures and plating all influenced the expectations I had for food. What are you eating these days? My girlfriend and I have been stepping up our pizza game from Little Caesars to Reilly, Falora and Bianco. What was the first dish you remember cooking? Chorizo con huevo with my mom every Sunday morning. What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can't stomach?
The current trend of food shows and their networks make some people feel to become a chef is as simple as attending a two-week seminar and poof, you are a chef. It sometimes does not take into account the years of hard work, sacrifice and constant creativity to be at the top of your game. What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with? I would like to cook with Paul Leibrandt because the way he defines the reason to cook is humbling. I would like to eat with a young Marco Pierre White. What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat? Chicago Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure? Twizzlers Top three Tucson restaurants? Agustin Kitchen, Reilly, BK's With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
My dad's "army food" which consists of Boston baked beans, roasted potatoes and overly seasoned pork chops with a glass of iced tea.