Dish Fest Q&A: Chef Donald Hawk of Valentine

Tiffany AcostaFebruary 24, 2022
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In the days leading up to Dish Fest, we’re presenting our readers with exclusive chef interviews so they can learn the stories behind the Best Dishes being served at the inaugural festival.

Conceived and delivered at The Gladly, chef Donald Hawk’s cult favorite brown butter hiramasa crudo now resides at his new Melrose all-day diner, Valentine. A uniquely harmonious mélange of ingredients – satiny slices of hiramasa (yellowtail) graced with artfully toasted butter, raisins, tomatillo-and-fish-sauce vinaigrette and Sonoran Desert I’itoi onions – create an ethereal dish light in texture but rich in flavor, and absolutely irresistible. Little wonder we’re seeing similar dishes pop up around the Valley. Learn more about the chef and his dish below, and come taste the OG (and No. 1 Best Dish in the Valley) at Dish Fest this weekend.

What is the origin story of your Best Dish?
We opened a raw bar about five years ago at The Gladly and randomly decided to do a tuna dish with brown butter. With some random ingredients I had on hand, I accidentally made the brown butter tuna as it was known. It took me a few weeks to get a final version out and people started buying it more and more.

What are the most important elements of a Best Dish?
I think for a great dish, it’s really about balance. Taste, texture, how it eats, and thought. You never know how popular the dish is going to be. All you’re doing is trying to put out a great dish.

What is your favorite food memory?
Grilling corn in Ohio as a kid.

Who is a fellow chef or restaurateur that you admire?
There’s so many, I don’t think I could name just one.

What are you most looking forward to about Dish Fest?
We’re looking forward to just seeing people and having a fun time.