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Chef Spotlight: 7 Questions and a Recipe with Eric Biondi of Luna

Eric Biondi is the sous chef at Luna. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Eric Biondi is the sous chef at Luna. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)

Meet Eric Biondi, the sous chef at Luna on Spokane’s South Hill.

He started there as a dishwasher and worked his way up to line cook. It was in that position that he discovered his passion.

Biondi, who turns 33 in March, has been cooking professionally since 2008. Here, we learn why the classic dish Cacio e Pepe best represents him as well as his top two favorites restaurants in Spokane – other than Luna, of course.

What’s your favorite dish to cook at home? I cook very seasonally at home, so it varies. But, really, whatever my wife would like tends to win that title.

Where do you eat when you eat out? Italia Trattoria. I learned a lot from (chef and co-owner) Anna Vogel and love her food. Also, Izumi. I love sushi, and it is a lot of work to make it at home.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef, and how? I kind of fell into the profession. I was working as a dishwasher at Luna and worked my way up to line cooking. I quickly realized I was passionate about food, and I love making people happy with something I created.

What are your go-to ingredients? During fall and winter, it is definitely winter squash. Roasted acorn, butternut or really any variety is very comforting this time of the year.

What was the first dish a customer ever sent back to you, and how did you handle it? I don’t remember exactly what dish it was, but you never like seeing a dish come back. If something is off with a dish or a customer would like it a little differently, I’ll happily oblige. It is usually something little that can make their experience better, and I always want customers enjoy eating my food.

What’s a dish you’ve never made but would like to, and why? I enjoy cooking authentic food from different cultures. The term “Americanized” when referring to food says to me “not the way it would be if you visited.” I want to cook food the way it has been done for generations. It is a view into a different way of life and, usually, flavors I don’t get to experience here. I can’t think of an exact dish, but when I find an interesting dish I have never had or made, I’ll usually make it in short order.

What dish or ingredient best represents you? Cacio e Pepe. I love this dish on many levels. I love the simplicity of it. It has very few ingredients, but if it is not executed correctly, it can turn out dreadful. It is how I feel I am as a chef – my attention to detail, execution, bringing the most out of ingredients. It’s often the basics that get overlooked as people try to rush to the more advanced techniques. Dishes like this remind me to stay humble, to stay true to myself. Also, I LOVE freshly cracked pepper.

Apple Honey Vinaigrette

From Eric Biondi of Luna

This is a simple dressing that goes great on a lot of things. It adds a nice sweetness. Biondi is currently running it on the quinoa salad on the Luna lunch menu. So, try it there first and then come home and replicate it in your own kitchen.

1 shallot, minced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup apple juice

3/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups canola or vegetable oil

Add all ingredients together, except oil, in blender and mix well. Slowly add the oil while the blender is running to emulsify.

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