Chef Howard Kirk with Food and Beverage Today

Howard Kirk refines his culinary experience

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Traveling gave Chef Howard the ability to refine his culinary tastes
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Chef Howard moved from Spain to the United States during his early teens, taking the knowledge passed on to him by his Uncle and learning still more from his own mother.

When he was twenty-one he began traveling around Europe visiting Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. He trained in various kitchens, learning how to make sausage from scratch and tasting as many types of cuisine as he could. When he wasn’t cooking or eating, he was trying to get in the back door of European kitchens at restaurants where locals, not tourists, would eat.

“Everywhere I went,” says Chef Howard, “I tried to taste as much as I could and talk to as many people in the culinary world as I could.”

But unlike the celebrity chefs on shows such as Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation or Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman, he didn’t have the advantage of advance scout teams or producers.

“It’s harder…You just have to throw caution to the wind [and just ask]…‘can I get in your kitchen and look around?’ Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

But he did find many independently owned bistros and chefs that were eager to share their spices, flavor and love for unadulterated regional cuisine.

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While living in Munich, he trained with Chef Sergio Giancarlo, who was born in Sardina but grew up in Tuscany. Sergio’s restaurant is La Citta. It had and still has no set menu. All depends on what can be procured in the morning at market. From Chef Sergio he learned regional Italian dishes in traditional forms. It was from Chef Sergio that he learned to cook his celebrated Roman Gnocci, something that you’ll find on Chef Howard’s 13 Gypsies menu.

When he wasn’t learning in the kitchen, he began to explore the culinary landscape of Munich. To his surprise it was incredibly varied, from some of the most authentic sushi he’s ever had to genuine Afghani fare.

It was startlingly different than America. In Munich he found that “They didn’t cater to the local palate. If they do sushi, that’s what they do. You’re either going to like it and eat there or you’re not.”

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