Lia Fallon, 45, is executive chef of Brewology, a gastopub opening later this year in Speonk. Until May 5, she held the same title at The Riverhead Project in Riverhead. She lives in Port Jefferson.
What's the most surprising thing a customer has ever asked for in your restaurant?
My Aunt Paula came in one Saturday night and wanted my grandmother's Italian red sauce. WHAT!!!!
What would people be surprised to hear that you like to eat?
Canned tuna fish.
If you could, which food would you ban from all restaurant menus?
Chilean sea bass.
Which Long Island restaurant would you take a chef friend to?
Either North Fork Table in Southold, Noah's in Greenport or Jewel in Melville.
Electronic devices at the table: Love them, ban them, don't care?
BAN THEM. Keep on silent in your bag or pocket and when you go to the bathroom, check if you must.
How do you dream up a dish?
Time of year/season, the weather and fresh ingredients that are available to me. After I examine all three, then my mind goes crazy. I think that is my favorite part. I challenge myself not to repeat dishes on my menu, unless it is a very popular item that my customers ask me for.
Any good food jokes?
A Sunday school teacher asks: Jesse, do you say your prayers before eating? Jesse replies: No ma'am. My mom is a good cook!
How do you handle staff romances?
I would rather not know about it, but they are kind of inevitable; these guys spend so much time together. I am OK with it as long as it doesn't affect their work performance.
What did your mother say about your becoming a chef?
My mom was very happy for me. It was a second career; I put myself through culinary school while running a business and taking care of a young family. There was a lot to juggle, but it has always been my dream and passion. She tells me all the time not to go faster than my guardian angel can fly.
Who's your culinary hero?
I look up a lot to my friend Tom Schaudel. Always fun, happy, inspiring and a very talented guy, who is good at anything he does, and he does a lot.
What's your go-to pizza place?
Renzo's in Mount Sinai. I need to be comfortable to tell them exactly what I want: thin crust, more sauce than cheese, well-done, crispy crust.
What do you think of reality cooking shows?
I think they are starting to get played out; some people are just looking for the quick spotlight instead of earning their stripes.
What seasonal ingredients get you going?
Spring really inspires me: It's the start of all the great local produce that we have here on the Long Island. I love using ramps, morels, asparagus, arugula, mint and rhubarb. I think I am just bored of winter root veggies.