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Chef Spotlight: Joe Morris of Luna

Joe Morris is the chef at Luna. Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Joe Morris is the chef at Luna. Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

What’s your favorite dish to cook at home? I make a chicken, rice and cheese casserole that my kids go crazy over. If they’re happy then I’m happy.

Where do you eat when you eat out? To be honest, it depends on the mood that I’m in. If I’m feeling like a burger then I’ll go to Durkin’s. But I don’t have a set place.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef, and how? I’ve had a lot of inspirations when it comes down to cooking. My family always made meals at home, so when they moved back to Orlando I had to learn to cook for myself.

My really good friend, Zac Stone, was the first person to push me to learn about cooking and to apply to culinary school. But the person to actually show me what a chef is all about, is chef Ryan Stoy. He opened my eyes and changed my view of what a chef is really all about.

What are your go-to ingredients? If I had to choose one, it would be mushrooms. I’ve loved mushrooms for as long as I can remember. They add so much depth and flavor to dishes – on top of the fact that they are very versatile. One the hardest things for me to do is to create a dish without adding mushrooms to it.

What was the first dish a customer ever sent back to you, and how did you handle it? I can’t honestly remember what the first dish a guest sent back to me was, but I do remember vividly a dish that got sent back and it wasn’t from a guest: it was from my kids. I made a simple dish of rice, steak and zucchini. The rice and the steak turned out well but the zucchini got horribly overcooked and over-salted. My kids hated it! They still, to this day, won’t let me live down the fact that I made them overcooked, over-salted zucchini!

What’s a dish you’ve never made but would like to, and why? It’s not a dish per se, but an ingredient. I would really like to cook with truffles. I’ve never gotten to cook with them or use them in anything and would really love to use them as freely as I want to.

What dish or ingredient best represents you? King crab! It’s a lot of work but the reward is priceless.

Maple Vinaigrette

From Joe Morris of Luna

1 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup stone ground mustard

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except for extra-virgin olive oil, then slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil to the rest of your ingredients. Enjoy!

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