Chef Sean Mcdonald was born and raised in jolly ol' England, and ever since he can remember, he's always wanted to be a chef. From washing dishes at 13 to being the head chef of Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort's ilios, he's taken tapas to a whole new level. Mcdonald's menu allows a tasting of multiple tapas, while pairing it perfectly with the best-suited wine for just the right combination of taste. Tapas to Chef Mcdonald are "a way to experience dining in a modern setting without someone else telling you what to eat." And with the same determination that shot his culinary career forward, it seems as if England's best is here to stay.
I'm sure all the dishes on each of your menus are like your children, but if you had to choose only one dish from the menu, which ones are you most proud of?
I really like our grouper dish, we use 100 percent produce and ingredients, and has a great fresh feel to it.
Most popular item on the menu?
It's really between two, since we do smaller items and some prefer them. They would be our mac and cheese, (made with Taleggio cheese for a more grown up feeling) and our diver scallops dish.
How would you describe South Florida's dining scene?
I think it's exciting because there's a lot of new restaurants opening, it's really coming up. There's really a lot of opportunity here, it honestly wasn't that great at first. But people are really starting to take advantage here and up their palates, and the dining scene is really starting to open up.
The secret to cooking perfect pasta?
Love and time. Really, you have to enjoy and love what you do. You have to have passion for what you do. It can't just be thrown together. Also, you need to have well-salted water.
At what point did you realize you were destined to be a chef?
Oh, always. I've always wanted to cook. I have no memory of wanting to anything other than being a chef. Never have I wanted to be a fire truck driver or a cop, just a chef. If someone told me, "pack up your knives, you're going to be doing something else," I would just stop dead in my tracks.
The 5 ingredients every home kitchen should have?
Good quality sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, a good quality dried pasta, balsamic vinegar, and great fresh salads. Swank Farms (by Jodie Swank) has a great selection of produce, just very fresh and alive. When I buy fresh produce from there, it lasts me three weeks, easily.
The 5 utensils every home kitchen should have?
Wooden spoon, vegetable press, Cavatelli roller, dumpling roller, super good quality knives, and the most important: glass of wine, you can't cook without one.
Your fondest food-related memory?
Um, easily glass of wine, music playing, teaching my daughter to make gnocchi. She didn't learn anything and we made quite a mess, but it was a lot of fun.
First dish you learned to make?
Perhaps the Quiche Lorraine I learned to make in home economics when I was about 12 or 13.
Favorite dish to make at home?
Roast chicken and risotto. Risotto is my favorite, I love to make it. And honestly, I'm lazy and its pretty simple to make, great tasting, and requires minimal amounts of preparation.