The chef: Stacia Dougherty, 27, of Cedar Rapids
The place: Lion Bridge Brewing Company, 59 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
Q: What do you do?
A: I’m the executive chef. I oversee specials and write menu changes and manage the kitchen. I’ve been in this role almost two years.
Q: What’s your background in the food industry?
A: I went to culinary school at Kirkwood Community College. I worked at the restaurant at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center for a while. I worked at NewBo Alehouse when it was still open, and I filled in at Lion Bridge under former executive chef Daniel Dennis. And now I’m here.
Q: Where can we find you when you’re not in the kitchen? Any hobbies besides cooking?
A: I like to check out other restaurants in town. I’m into kickboxing, which is fun.
Q: Are there any parallels between kickboxing and cooking?
A: Focus and perseverance, especially when it gets busy. You’ve just got to keep going.
Q: How did you get into cooking?
A: Growing up, I cooked with my grandma. I always really liked cooking. But I was under the impression you had to go to Minneapolis or Chicago to an expensive school to do that as a career. I was taking classes at Coe ... when I found out Kirkwood had an amazing program. I found out my dream could become a reality.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?
A: The reaction from the people that come in and enjoy the food and seeing how much they appreciate it and hearing feedback.
Q: Any particular challenges of the job?
A: You can go through creative lulls. It’s definitely a lot of work and a lot of time, but if it’s something you love to do, it’s not that bad at all.
Q: Do you have a signature dish?
A: I don’t know that I have a signature dish yet, but I love making sauces and soups and jams and pickles.
Q: What’s your favorite vegetable to pickle?
A: Probably beets. They’re the best.
Q: Do you have a cooking tip for readers?
A: Don’t be scared to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. I had very little experience cooking vegetarian meals growing up, and I find I actually enjoy it now. I enjoy the challenge.
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