LOCAL Houston | The City Guide November 2016 - Page 20

CHEF’S SPECIAL KALA DUNN PLONK! BISTRO A newcomer to professional cooking but not to the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest neighborhood she cooks for at Plonk! Bistro, Kala Dunn taught writing at the University of Houston before joining Plonk! in May of 2015. Though she holds an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College, she has no formal culinary training. However, she does have a passion for cooking rooted in her Arkansas childhood and the support of a small crew of hardworking, talented cooks. Over the past year and a half, Kala has embraced and grown into her new role, managing daily operations and preparing seasonal, wine-friendly food to complement Plonk!’s eclectic cellar list. She also foresees a novel set in a commercial kitchen somewhere in her future. Favorite late night spot for a bite? The Kroger on West 43rd – it’s open 24 hours and right next door to Plonk! Best breakfast? Mickey’s breakfast tacos at the Wakefield Farmer’s Market in Oak Forest. What ingredient can you not live without in the kitchen and why? All Trumps high-gluten flour. It’s the best for baking bread. I’m an avid baker, and though we use a wonderful local bakery for some things, I enjoy making specialty breads in-house. What utensil can you not live without? Titanium utility peel. The stone oven is our main heat source at Plonk!, and we use this long-handled tool to pull sizzle platters from the back of the oven or to turn pizzas while they bake. It’s extremely lightweight but strong enough to lift out a heavy Creuset full of piping hot cassoulet or chicken pot pie. Favorite affordable wine? Gomez Cruzado White Rioja. Favorite place for dessert? Shipley’s Donuts on Ella Boulevard – that counts as dessert, right? Who are your favorite chef, restaurant and dish? Little Bird Bistro in Portland, Oregon, owned by Chef Gabe Rucker. My favorite dish: the charcuterie board. Is there a food you won’t eat? Water chestnuts. At home, what do you keep on hand to serve drop-in guests? Simple syrup, Cointreau, tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice, coarse salt – I’m known to make a mean margarita. What would be your last meal? Anything and good mashed potatoes. Is there a particular food that is underappreciated? Padrón peppers! This mild green pepper is similar to a shishito, but tenderer and stubbier in shape. They’re great just blistered in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. I first encountered them while traveling to a writers’ conference on the West Coast, where they’re quite popular. But they’re hard to find in Texas. We’re doing our best at Plonk! to boost their reputation – we cook with padróns when we can get them, and we even tried our hand at growing them this summer. Photography by Kennon Evett 1214 W. 43rd St., #100 | 713.290.1070 | www.plonkbistro.com 20 L O C A L | november 16