Joe Morris, who will be featured on the demonstration stage at the Dorothy Dean Home Cooking School on May 12, is the chef at Luna Restaurant on the South Hill, one of Spokane’s signature fine-dining restaurants.
Here he talks about how a longing for home spurred his interest in cooking, and how hard work got him where he is.
How did family food experiences influence your interest in cooking?
My interest in cooking spiked because my family moved back to our home state of Florida, and I was left here in Washington craving all the foods and food traditions that I grew up on. I missed eating blue crabs with the family, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese (real oven-baked macaroni and cheese, not the box stuff). So, I would ask my mom for different recipes or I would ask how they prepared certain items. My cooking interest exploded from there.
What do you think are future trends in fine dining?
To be honest, I’m not really sure what the upcoming trends are. I do know they come and go, so I try to stay away from trends and just stay in my own lane and create the food that represents myself and my team.
You have a family with children. How does that affect your ideas of what makes a good meal for everyone?
It’s a constant reminder to make sure to never over-complicate things. Simplicity is what my kids love. But simple can also be complex and that is something that I strive for. Keep it simple, but make it nice.
How important do you think treasured recipes, like the Dorothy Dean publications, and food traditions are for the community?
Food traditions are the foundations of community. Most events, whether they are family gatherings or large-scale events such as fundraisers, revolve around food. It keeps memories and legacies alive. When I talk about my family in Baltimore, one of the first things that comes to mind is eating bushels of blue crabs with uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. It’s one of my fondest childhood memories and is something that my family still does to this day.
You are the chef at Luna, one of Spokane’s most popular restaurants. How did you get to the top?
Hard work! You can’t get anywhere in life if you don’t work hard and believe in yourself. I’ve also been blessed with a great team. The chefs I work with are incredible and are more like family to me than co-workers. I have also been blessed to have family and friends who have been behind me since day one and supported my dedication to Luna. We have great owners – Aaron and Hannah Delis – who have not only believed in me, but have pushed me to be the chef and culinary leader that God has called me to be.
What is your own idea of a fantastic meal?
My idea of a fantastic meal is just enjoying what I want to eat, when I want to eat it, in the environment that I want to eat it in. It’s the experience that makes the meal in my book.