Leroy Walker has been the Executive Chef at Bistro 234 in downtown Turlock for over a decade.
Q. You were named the winner of Modesto's Culinary Clash sponsored by the DMC Foundation. How was that experience and did you enjoy participating in that?
A. "The experience was exhausting, but completely joyful, it takes a lot of work and effort to be prepared for what might be thrown at you. I had a great team with me, my sous chef Michael and Jennifer Bethel were with me and they were the reason we won both of our DMC Culinary Clash competitions. We complement each others' talents and there is a chemistry between the three of us."
Q. What are some of your own personal favorite holiday dishes?
A. "For some reason there are an abundance of really fresh tamales around the holidays, and that is what sticks out in my mind — a couple pork or chicken tamales with some fresh salsa."
Q. How do you feel about the changes that you have witnessed in the downtown Turlock dining scene over the years?
A. "I love it. There needs to be a couple more restaurants downtown. They need to stay small, independent type; the more ethnic the better. I hope the City of Turlock is listening — NO CHAIN restaurants downtown, or even close to downtown! Maybe a really good authentic Thai or Eastern Indian flavors would be nice. We need flavor and substance, not flare."
Q. What do you look forward to the most each day as you go to work?
A. "My chefs in the kitchen. I have a really great kitchen of chefs and the chemistry amongst us right now is great. We are collaborating together on a daily basis, creating an exciting new menu to be released piece by piece throughout the next several months."
Q. What change would you like to see happen in Turlock over the next 5 years?
A. "I like Turlock, I don't know if there should be to many changes."
Q. What do you think Turlock should be most proud of?
A. "Its tenacity to stay a small town. It still feels like a small town to me, but we are growing both in food and culture."
Q. What do you like to do for fun?
A. "I've played guitar a little longer than I've been cooking. I learned at a young age I was not going to make a living being a musician, so I became a chef. But I steal like to play the guitar daily."
Q. What was the last thing you read?
A. "Food and Wine, and Plate (magazines); I don't have patience to read books. I guess the last book I read was "Kitchen Confidential." Jennifer Bethel's mom gave it to me for my birthday years ago and it took me about that long to read it."
Q. What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
A. "That I actually have patience."