What Hub City Chefs Eat

Written By McKenna Dowdle

November 23, 2020

When you imagine the daily habits of chefs from upper-scale restaurants, you might think they cook and eat fancy, complex fare at all times.

In reality, many chefs eat rather simply, sampling what they’re cooking throughout the day and joining the staff for a communal meal in the late afternoon. In their off hours, it’s not unusual for them to cook no-fuss meals, like a simple pasta dish or a hearty meal of steak and potatoes, or for them to dine out on street tacos or a heaping plate of nachos at local Lubbock restaurants.

For most of us, attempting to create a somewhat elaborate meal, whether it be roasting an entire chicken, making pasta from scratch or trying our hand at an edible risotto, eases the monotony of our daily desk jobs. But for these local top chefs, cooking at home for their friends and family is a very different story. I sat down with three local chefs to pick their brains on what they enjoy cooking and eating, as well as where they draw their inspiration to craft mouthwatering dishes on the daily.

Renowned chef, Sarah North, is no stranger to the Lubbock culinary scene, previously serving as chef at popular restaurants like Pecan Grill at Overton Hotel and Conference Center, King Street Pub and Brunch at Stonegate (RIP *sad face*), just to name a few. Read on to hear what this Lubbock native thinks of the “Hub City’s” thriving tastemaking scene.

What do you enjoy most about Lubbock’s culinary scene?

I love the big city-esque diversity we have here in Lubbock. And the literal hundreds of restaurants to choose from. There aren’t many communities of our size where you can choose from such varied types of cuisine, especially in Texas.

Another thing I love about the food scene here is the mass amount of respect local businesses have for one another. I mean, we’re all competitors, sure, but we also support each other above all else. We have so much chef-driven talent here. Every chef is so different in their palates and style of execution that it’s really getting hard to keep up!

What do you believe is Lubbock’s biggest hidden food gem?

I could write 17 pages on this, but I’ll keep it short. The amount of accoutrements that you get when ordering at Seoul is amazing, literally ANY lunch special at Flipper’s Tavern, the bacon fried rice and musubi from Aloha BBQ and the chili cheese burger from Bonus Burger (ask for fritos on the side, then put them ON the burger… trust me on this one!), just to name a few. 

One thing that I absolutely crave on a weekly basis are the Choppy Bob Nachos from Triple J Chophouse and Brew Co. Seriously, one of my favorite appetizers of all time, from anywhere. Don’t forget the extra jalapenos! 

Last but not least, any cocktail from Cocina de La Sirena. Mermaid water, anyone? 

Texas-born chef, Antonio (Tony) Pina, has been creating innovative cuisine in the LBK for the past several years (you can thank him for the Farm to Fork Gastro Truck). Now, as the Executive Chef at DoubleTree by Hilton (set to open soon), Chef Pina is helping to redefine the local dining culture. 

What inspires you most about the culinary scene in the 806?

The passionate foodies we have in Lubbock are beyond inspiring. I appreciate that our foodies know what they want and demand it. With the current pandemic, the dining room table is what gives us a safe place to be with our friends and loved ones. It blesses us with the opportunity to keep our relationships close – all through the art of cooking.

Another thing that inspires me about Lubbock when creating recipes is that we have different seasons. I am all about creating food with what we have here in our own backyard and the local businesses that carry that passion into their product that you can find at our local markets like the Wolfforth’s Farmers Market and Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market.

What is your go-to dish to make for your family?

My favorite dish to make for myself and family is really simple: a good ol’ steak and potatoes. 

The steak has to be grilled over a hot flame of West Texas pecan wood, of course. 

Where is one of your favorite places to grab a bite in Lubbock?

Definitely Taqueria Autlan. I really enjoy their street tacos and variety of salsas they offer to top them off with. I really am a simple eater – just give me tacos!

As a newbie to Lubbock, Susan Benton has quickly adapted to the West Texas culinary world, bringing years of tastemaking experience with her. Now, as head chef at Lubbock’s newest downtown hot spot, Burklee Hill Vineyards, Chef Benton has already become a local favorite.

What do you enjoy most about Lubbock’s culinary scene?

Hands down, the people and their passion for good food is what I enjoy most. I actually just moved here a couple months ago. As the head chef at Burklee Hill, it’s so inspiring to see our guests having such a passion for food that emulates my passion for cooking! 

What is your favorite dish to make for yourself and your family?

My favorite dish to make for my own family would have to be stuffed pasta shells. My husband would tell you I’ve never made them the same twice. I always make homemade sauce and I use different kinds of meats and cheeses, depending on my mood. And I always put much love into my cooking!

Where do you draw your inspiration when crafting a new dish?

It would have to be the people – Lubbock has so much history! I like to listen to our guests and see what they have to say about the things that bring them out to Burklee to enjoy their evening. Whether it’s the latest sandwich I’ve created or pizza, or even one of our new wines, I pour my heart and soul into every dish!

These seasoned chefs continue to create innovative cuisine using the freshest—and often locally sourced—ingredients, all while redefining what it means to cook and eat like a Texan in the “Hub City”. Be sure to check out these top chefs’ delectable dishes – we promise you won’t be disappointed! And as always, share your foodie experiences with us using #LiveLoveLubbock!


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