526 S. Fourth St.
Pamela Lewy: : Why did you
start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Bryan Sikora: I have always
been a creative person. I went to art school and I’ve also
worked in restaurants during high school. The transformation was
simple. Restaurants were a good way to make money, and I enjoy the
instant gratification of preparing a dish as opposed to spending
days on a painting. I later went to culinary school and gained more
PL: Who are your mentors?
BS: Robert Trainor, whom I
worked with during my externship in Cape Cod and Nora Pouillon from
Nora’s in Washington, D.C. Her method was very interesting
and it was my first opportunity to work with someone who uses totally
PL: What chefs do you most
BS: Daniel Boulud, Charlie
Palmer, Jasper White and Dean Fearing.
PL: What is your most indispensable
BS: A Chinois.
PL: You’ve traveled
to many places all over the country. What cities do you like for
culinary travel? Why?
BS: Every city has such a
different environment. They’re more ingredient-driven on west
coast and on Cape Cod. I prefer the towns where there are actual
working markets. That’s why Philly’s so interesting.
There are so many different kinds of markets that bring ingredients
to the people directly from the producer. I love cities with historic
PL: You actually thank the
farmers and local producers at the end of your menu.
BS: Yes, I think my costumers
respect that. Django buys food from local neighborhood places. Customers
see my wife and me at the market and they know that they are being
served quality ingredients.
PL: What are your favorite
food haunts in Philly?
BS: I generally like simpler
places. My wife and I like to go BYOB’s and we’re very
open-minded when we go out to eat. We like the Standard Tap and
Dimitri’s for Greek-Mediterranean food. I don’t like
PL: Your cooking is very labor-intensive.
You make your own pastas, breads, ice cream and even pickles. What
inspires you to cook “the old fashioned” way when there
are so many gadgets for short cuts these days?
BS: There are many ways to
take short cuts, but not taking them goes back to the concept of
becoming a chef. This is what people expect because this is how
we created it. My own restaurant gave me the experience to learn
how to cook and create new things. Right now, we smoke our fish
and meats and this motivates me and keeps me interested. Short cuts
aren’t worth it when my name is on the line. It’s more
work this way, but it’s well worth it in the end. It’s
what the restaurant and what my wife and I love.
PL: What is your favorite
BS: Probably fennel seed.
PL: What is your favorite
question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
BS: Do you consider yourself
highly dedicated, open and willing to learn and take on new skills
and new information?
PL: What advice/tip do you
have for culinary students just getting started?
BS: Find a place you like
and appreciate it. Find a job and stay there for a couple of years
to gain real fundamental knowledge. Don’t be too concerned
about pay and how quickly you’ll become a sous chef. Learn
technique over everything else.
PL: Where do you see yourself
in 5 years? In 10 years?
BS: Still operating Django
as it is or in a larger environment. I would eventually like to
own and work in a boutique hotel that features good food, like the
Inn at Little Washington.