After moving from Mexico to the U.S. at 15 years old, chef David Michaca began his culinary journey at the lowest rung in the restaurant ladder. Over time, David mastered all areas of the cooking line, until finally being made chef of Mia’s Prime Time Café last year. We met with David to get a closer look into his story, his culinary roots and why he believes fresh ingredients define excellent cooking.
Where did you discover your passion for cooking?
When I first came to the U.S. with my brother, Antonio, I worked with him at a restaurant as a dishwasher and a busser, but all I wanted to do was cook on the line. He and the chef gave me the opportunity, and I was a very quick learner. I was first taught to make pizza, then moved over to the fryer and further down to all areas of the cooking line. I fell in love with it, [so] it was natural for me to continue as a chef.
What is your favorite dish on Mia’s menu?
Fish and Chips is one of my favorites; it’s one of the first things I learned how to cook.
Have your roots in Mexican cuisine and culture influenced your cooking?
When I was younger, my mom taught me traditional Mexican cooking. I learned to make mole poblano, tamales, Mexican chocolate and grinding corn for tortillas. This was a huge chore. I was never allowed to go out and play until all the corn was ground.
How have your culinary tastes changed over time?
Mia has given me more responsibility and freedom to create my own recipes. I do incorporate some Mexican culture, especially on the weekends. New menu items include Ceviche, Seafood Risotto (similar to a paella style) and a Pueblo Omelet with jalapeño, tomato, onions and Queso Fresco cheese. [I will make] some soups too such as Chilled Avocado and Roasted Jalapeño, and Smoked Tomato Bisque with a molasses glaze.
Tell me about some of your breakfast offerings people look forward to.
Guests rave about our various pancakes made with fresh blueberry or strawberry, our Mia’s oatmeal with an assortment of dried fruits and nuts; stuffed French toast with a raspberry sauce, and our omelets. Locals love our Smoked Salmon Platter and the classic Eggs Benedict we serve on the weekends.
How do you define excellent cooking?
I define excellent cooking by the passion and enjoyment I get from it. Utilizing the freshest ingredients from our vendors and ensuring the product meets our expectations [is important]. Freshness ensures each menu item is superior in flavor and presentation. We won’t cook an item just to fulfill a ticket; if it is not 100% correct, then it does not hit the table.
1 West Broad Street, Pawcatuck, CT