Katherine Sacks: What inspired you to get into kitchens?
Shane Devereux: Watching my family cook. I grew up in a city where all the kids ran rampant on Sundays, but my dad always cooked with fresh ingredients on the Vietnamese side. With my mom and dad working all the time, when we did have time together, we all had to do something. My sister would clean green beans, I would clean the chicken. I could see it starting there; I just wanted to be involved in cooking.
In high school I took four home economics classes for no credit because I had already taken too many. I wanted to go to culinary school because I worked a couple grills as a part time job, but my mom told me I could always go to art school. So I went to college to play to football instead, and decided it wasn’t for me. I moved home and started working in Philadelphia.
KS: What is your style as a chef?
SD: I do have a lot of Vietnamese influences and things I like to cook using some of the sauces or spices I grew up with. I use them today in my cooking a lot. I like a lot of flavors. I do try and incorporate what I was taught. Since I’ve been on my own, my style would be whatever I want to do without sounding vague or pompous.
KS: What is your proudest achievement?
SD: It has to be opening The Lawrence. I haven’t always wanted to open my own place because I have seen what it can do to people. I’ve always taken a lot of initiative even when I was just a cook; what’s going to happen when I am an owner? It just fell into my lap. You always expect the unexpected and I didn’t expect it to happen so fast
KS: What had been the most difficult thing you’ve done?
SD: It’s difficult to hear people talk about you. I’m very uncomfortable with that. I love what I do, which is why I continue stressing myself out, but it’s been very hard to accept the positive sometimes. It was also tough moving to a new city, leaving Philly and coming to Atlanta. If you move to a new city, you start fresh.
KS: Where will we find you in five years?
SD: Still in Atlanta. Ultimately I don’t know. My five year plan is ending right now, so I am thinking about what I will do in the future. In five years I want to be just creating another different dining experience through Dinner Party.