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Crave chef spotlight: Philadelphia’s Brian Duffy has surf-and-turf planned for Spokane Valley

Brian Duffy (Courtesy photo)

Brian Duffy’s never been to the Inland Northwest before. And that’s one of the things that drew him to the Crave event. That, and the fact that it’s new.

“For me, one of the main things was because it’s the first year. I love being involved with things that are brand new. This was really a no-brainer,” said Duffy, an Irish-Italian chef from Philadelphia, where he initially specialized in “New Celtic” cuisine. Now, he owns Flying Fish Crafthouse in the historic Brewerytown district, where he serves up hearty urban American fare.

“I love seafood and meat,” he said.

He’s planning to demonstrate some kind of surf-and-turf dish at the food and drink festival in Spokane Valley. He’s also looking forward to meeting the other chefs and taking a little time out to ride a Harley to Missoula and Yellowstone National Park, “even up to Canada,” and make a mini vacation out of it.

At home, he likes to cook chicken, fish and beef. “I love protein,” he said. “I love a great steak. Tonight, I’m sous vide-ing drumsticks, then grilling them right before dinner.”

But, he said, “my go-to meat across the board is bone-in rib-eye dry-aged 45 days. That’s kind of my man night.”

His daughters are 13 and 16. When he’s cooking for them, there’s one rule: “Everybody has to try everything all the time.”

Duffy, 45, considers a recipe as “more of a guideline” than a hard-and-fast rule. “Baking is a science; you have to follow the recipe. That’s why it works. But in standard cooking, the recipes are guidelines. You don’t have to freak out. Experiment. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

“Cooking,” he said, “should be fun.”

Duffy encourages home cooks to be prepared and be adventurous. “Play around with it,” he said. “A lot of time it really comes down to the simple technique of things. It’s about the layering.”

To that end, some of his go-to pantry staples include smoked black pepper and “good salt,” such as Maldon, Himalayan or smoked salt. “Take your iodized table salt and throw it in the trash. Have a salt grinder and a pepper grinder. It changes the taste of the dish.”

He also recommends high-end butter, such as Plugra European-Style Butter or Kerrygold, as well as “a really good olive oil. Cook with the cheap stuff and finish with the good stuff.”

Other staples: a poached egg, some sort of pasta, pork belly.

It’s not all meat and fish, though. He likes greens, too – Swiss chard, collards, broccoli rabe, green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts.

But, “Stay away from zucchini and squash,” he said. “Get it out of your repertoire. Everyone does the same thing. They all overcook it.”

Mark your calendar: Brian Duffy presents his culinary stage demo from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. Saturday.