Dermott Driscoll started his cooking career with a simple breakfast of sausage, scrambled eggs and toast at five years old. The Brooklyn Bowl executive chef never saw a career path in any other industry—an industry he’s spent more than three decades in—but of course it helps he had a special neighbor growing up to set his culinary sights in the right direction—maximizing proper ingredients and cooking from scratch. After securing degrees from Santa Barbara City College and New England Culinary Institute, Driscoll worked for a variety of restaurants in California and Washington before serving as executive chef of House of Blues Restaurants and Foundation Rooms. The House of Blues gig led him to Las Vegas, as it was an easy hub to travel to all the nationwide restaurants.
How’d you get into cooking?
It’s kind of a really weird story. I learned from my grandmother when I was five. She was just teaching me how to make breakfast for my grandfather and one morning I got up an hour before them and made the complete breakfast she had taught me the day before.
And you knew then?
I started really getting into it as early as 14 and we had a really very lovely neighbor, who most people know as Julia Child. I had a little influence from her. My mom and Julia, they used to go to the supermarket together.
What’d you learn from Julia Child?
It was like an adventure going to the supermarket with her, how picky and how much time she spent with produce and looking at things and checking them and making sure the quality was there and never taking a back seat and accepting something that was mediocre. She’d change plans on a dime and it’s important in this industry to have that background. If you don’t find the quality product, you don’t have to compromise, you go in a different direction and serve the best product.
What else did you learn from your grandmother?
She taught me a lot about roasting meats. It was just doing everything that was popular in the 60s, not too much processed foods. She did a lot roasting turkeys and having them for sandwiches and open face turkey on toast. She’d freeze gravy in ice cube trays. She was very frugal, not cheap, but she knew how to how to utilize everything.
That has to be a core tenet in your kitchens, right?
It does show in my food costs and we have very little waste. We know how to utilize everything.
How’d you end up in Vegas?
I was regional chef for House of Blues in charge of the whole country and I was with them for over 12 years. It just seemed better to commit to Las Vegas so I could travel to all the other venues through the Southwest hub. I was that guy who had a suitcase in my trunk because I’d be told at noon I needed to be in Houston by dinner service.
And how’d you end up at Brooklyn Bowl?
It’s been amazing; I was the first employee hired here. My previous GM at Las Vegas House of Blues came over and I interviewed with Paul Bromberg in the international terminal at the airport as he was headed to open London Brooklyn Bowl. I haven’t looked back and haven’t had this much fun in a long time.
It’s a unique venue, what's it like cooking there?
It’s a lot of fun. We really enjoy what we do. The big motto is you bowl with your right hand and eat with your left. No food in the bowling ball. [They] bring amazing talent in the building, so it’s nice to see the shows and be at the feet of the artists. I’ve stood within five feet of Robert Plant and amazing musicians and talented people where most places you don’t get such close access. We have a stereo in the kitchen that is piped through, so we enjoy the concerts in the kitchen.
What about challenges?
You have to know the audience, but that’s something I’m very familiar with all those years at House of Blues. You have to know the bands and their fans.
What’s cooking up this year at Brooklyn Bowl?
We’re looking at changing up the menu a bit, trying some new things. We’re trying creative things on the special event menu that we’ll try to put into the menu and keep growing and keep teaching. I always want to say I want to teach my replacement. As soon as I train them, my life is easier and theirs is easier because they train the people underneath them. It allows us to experiment more and before you know it, what you put in place just keeps going and going.