We’re more than a little excited to be launching a series of Nibble+squeak dining events in Detroit, in partnership with pop-up restaurant frame, home of carefully curated chef residencies and all-round awesome experiences!
For our first event together, we’ve tapped the perfect chef: new mother and Bravo TV star Rebecca LaMalfa. Rebecca and her husband (two-Michilin-starred) Chef Thomas Lents of Detroit Foundation Hotel are proud parents of Finnegan, who is now 10 months old.
Chef Rebecca LaMalfa is a graduate of the CIA who has worked at acclaimed restaurants in Las Vegas and Chicago before settling in Detroit. She was raised on a California farm and her appreciation for seasonality shines through in her cooking.
We sat down recently to ask Chef Becca a few questions about her home city, chef-life, and new motherhood:
Q: Tell us about Detroit! We know it is such a vibrant and resilient city. How has that translated into the food and beverage landscape?
A: Great things are happening here in Detroit, and the people here are excited for new chefs to come visit or to return home bringing experience gained while working and learning in other cities.
Q: You blazed your trail in several Michelin-starred restaurants in Las Vegas, and then took your skills to Chicago. From there, what brought you to Detroit?
A: My husband Thomas Lents opened Detroit’s Foundation Hotel, and had the chance to return home and teach a younger generation of cooks the skills he had gathered.
Q: How has motherhood affected your evolution as chef, and how has your career as a chef prepared you for becoming a mom? (As we all know, both require late nights and someone is always hungry!)
A: Yes, both!! Being a chef I am no stranger to no sleep, sleep deprivation, and long hours! So there was really no transition necessary at all.
Q: You are creating the menu and preparing a very special ‘Tykesgiving’ meal. What’s your favorite holiday dish? Were you always in the kitchen as a child during the holidays?
A: My favorite holiday dish is my grandmothers sage stuffing…. And yes, I was always in kitchen — long before I could even talk . I loved cooking with my grandmother and my mother.
Q: How do you hope to pass down those traditions and dishes to your son, Finnegan?
A: I hope to teach Finnegan to love and respect food, teach him both of our family’s recipes and why these recipes are important to us. Hopefully he will love food as much as we do. We know he likes to eat!
Q: What comes to mind when you think of “kid-friendly dining,” and from a parent’s perspective, what would you like to see more of?
A: No kids menus!!
Q: Your husband, Tom Lents, is also a celebrated chef. What’s dinner like at home? Who does the cooking?
A: I do the cooking and we eat like everyone else. Meatloaf, tacos. Nothing going on fancy at our house. We order pizza like everyone!
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a chef? What’s been the biggest influence on your style of cooking?
A: Yes. Always!! I would get off the bus from school and run home to watch Great Chefs of America and Great Chefs of The World on Delivery Channel, and read cookbooks (like they were novels. For my bedside reading, I would learn about how to break down chickens and cook lobsters.
Q: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
A: Le Bristol in Paris. It was lunch with Tom in our honeymoon.
Q: What foods do you secretly hope Finnegan will love?
A: It’s funny, but I care more about the foods he doesn’t love. Secretly hope he doesn’t love raisins.