Tomas Lopez has worked in restaurants for the past 17 years.
He moved to Charleston in 2003 and has been the executive chef at Lowcountry Catering in Charleston, SC for the past ten years. He is 34 and is married with six children.
Q: You mentioned that you staged under several great chefs? Tell me which chef that had the biggest impact on your culinary career and why.
A: I have worked under great chefs in many restaurants. I think the one who inspired me the most was probably Aaron Siegal, who was the executive chef at Blossom. His aspect on traditional techniques of comfort foods helped me develop an idea of what direction and genre of food I would lean toward at Lowcountry Catering.
Q: How did you come to work at Lowcountry Catering?
A: Over a series of searches to find a company that I felt would be the best to make the next step in my career, I came across Lowcountry Catering. I worked under chef Hector Gibbes as his sous chef for three years and then took over as executive chef for the past three years.
Q: A lot of your culinary education came from cookbooks? Can you name some of your favorites?
A: I would not say cookbooks but more culinary schoolbooks. Some books that stick out are Culinary Artistry, Escoffier and Repertoire de La Cuisine. I pretty much read any book I could get my hands on.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure food?
A: That would probably be tamales. I was raised in California, so Southwestern Mexican food will always be a big part of my life.
Q: What is your favorite thing on the menu at Lowcountry Catering?
A: That is so hard to say. I would either have to say the pork terrine or the fried green tomato crab cake Benedict. We have a very eclectic menu, but our specials are really where it's at.
Q: What is your favorite cooking technique?
A: I'm pretty big on braising. There is something about process, time and cooking tough, unpalatable foods to make them delicious that I enjoy. Great things should take time.
Q: You have six kids at home. Do you cook for them?
A: I cook for them as much as possible when I'm not working. I work so many hours, though, that the Mrs. does a good bit of the cooking herself. She's a trouper. I think the kid's favorite thing is when we make pizzas from scratch. It's mostly the time I spend trying to teach them and making huge messes that they enjoy.