Fall 2017|volume 11|Issue 1

    MEET: Daniel Walker

    Executive Chef Daniel Walker

    Executive Chef

    Lidia’s Pittsburgh
    1400 Smallman Street / 412-552-0150
    lidias-pittsburgh.com

    Where did you get your training?

    I got my start in a little hotel up in the mountains in Colorado. The place was called the Riverside Hotel. The former owner (Richard Paradise) actually published a book this year—Living Life Riverside: The Nightmarish Pursuit of the American Dream—about the experience of owning the hotel during my tenure as the chef. I really cut my teeth working for Lidia, though.

    What dish do you consider your specialty, and why?

    It wouldn’t be a dish per se, but rather an ingredient, seasonally dependent, like figs in the summer or squash in the fall. I was always told to work smart, not hard, letting nature do the “footwork”—and that seems to fall in line with this axiom. I also believe the simplest things tend to be the best, stripped down with nothing to hide behind.

    Do you have a favorite Pittsburgh restaurant?

    Of course, Lidia’s. Lidia’s food speaks to me; there is a sincere authenticity I can’t find at
    other Italian restaurants.

    What’s the best restaurant you have ever dined in?

    Del Posto, in New York City.

    Are you a Pittsburgher?

    No, I’m originally from Kansas City. I have spent the last few years bouncing around the East Coast, spending some time cooking in New York and Boston. 

    What do you do for fun?

    I cook, I read, I listen to and play music, and as a sports fanatic, I attend sporting events whenever I can. I love skiing and hiking or any activity that keeps me outdoors.

    Is there one dish you usually make for the Christmas Holidays?  

    Anything seafood related. The Italians have a rich tradition of serving seafood on Christmas Eve. Spending the last 10 years working in Italian restaurants, I have kind of adopted that tradition. 

    People would be surprised to know that … 

    I studied German and psychology in college and wound up doing this. 

    If you weren’t a chef, you would like to be …   

    A teacher.

    Thank you!