She was born in California. She is a graduate of the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. She went to culinary school on what felt like a whim at the time. Now it’s clear to her that food was definitely destined to be her life’s work and she has been focused on nothing but since the day she graduated.
Kirstyn Brewer’s culinary path led her from Whist Restaurant at the Viceroy Santa Monica to The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the Beverly Hills SLS Hotel to Westside Tavern in Los Angeles where she became sous chef in 2009. She moved on to Hibiscus in Dallas 2011 and later became sous chef at Victor Tangos. Then, in January 2013, Brewer herself was named Victor Tangos’ executive chef.
She an inventive chef with a love for “small plate” style eating and all things “rustic.” Here we dig a little deeper into just what flips her spatula when it comes to culinary pursuits.
The Daily Meal: From where did your love of all things culinary develop?
Kirstyn Brewer: I have always been curious about food and trying new things when I was a kid. I loved to eat long before I loved to cook, and that's still the main driving force.
What would you say is your overarching food philosophy?
I think you can tell when someone is really cooking for YOU and not themselves. There's some love behind it. I try to always remember that when I'm in the kitchen. As chefs, we are here for the guests.
How would you describe the vibe at Victor Tangos?
Victor Tangos is just fun! Located on Dallas’ dynamic Henderson Avenue, Victor Tangos is a lively New-American bar and restaurant that persistently offers a tasteful experience of contradictions. While its aesthetic is warm, it is also refined; while its dining is elevated, it is persistently creative, and while its overall culture is progressive, it is equally approachable.
Can you tell readers a bit about the inspiration behind your menus and what you are hoping to achieve with their offerings?
I try to give diners something they are familiar with, but with a twist. I love when we are able to pull something off that provides a sense of nostalgia. There may be ingredients that they don't recognize, but when they eat it, it comes together in a familiar way.
What do guests tell you they love the most about the restaurant, the menu, and the food?
The overall experience! The warm service, maybe a tasty cocktail and then getting to try something new from the menu.
What are some of your personal favorite menu items?
I always find myself going back to the Japanese-Style Chicken Wings. But since it's so hot right now, I'm really into the Compressed Watermelon and Kale Salad with Yuzu Vin.
What are some of your favorite ingredients and/or cooking styles to experiment with right now?
I just made my own XO sauce [a Chinese condiment] and I want to put it in everything.
What do you think is the most important thing that people know about food right now?
I love that people are paying attention to where their food comes from. There is a lot of work to be done, but we are heading the right direction to maintain sustainability and overall healthier lifestyles.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers about all things culinary at Victor Tangos?
I'm just one person. I can't get over how great my staff is (front and back of house) how well they represent me and all of our products.