Three People to Know in South Florida's Culinary Scene, Part 3 - Caleb Holman
Caleb Holman, executive chef of Kapow! Noodle Bar, has been into cooking ever since his lunch-lady mom would whip up great meals at home when not "bound by the government limitations on school foods." His grandma also worked in the restaurant biz, and these family ties instilled a love of cooking in Caleb.
On the pro circuit, Holman got his start washing dishes in a friend's family's Mexican restaurant, then moved up to prep and, after high school, sailed into culinary school.
"From there, I got an externship at Dada with Bruce [Feingold], and I did my externship there," says Holman. "It worked out so well, I just stayed on. I worked up to sous chef, and I was there for 11 years before Scott offered me the position here at Kapow!"
In his seven-month tenure, he's built a solid team, trained in the likes of his personal style. But being an executive chef isn't easy.
"The biggest challenge I'd have to say is making the team a cohesive team; that's really one of the biggest challenges, I'd assume, for any restaurant. If you don't work like a well-oiled machine, it's not gonna happen."
Holman describes his flavor style as largely Southwestern. "I think that blends pretty well with Asian, with the use of fresh vegetables, fresh ingredients, spices, bold flavors, and chilies. I think those two fuse together really well." His background also includes some French traditions, so a bit of that is incorporated as well.
Holman has worked to add some new menu items that represent his signature style, including the Bulgogi tacos, a mix of thinly sliced rib eye sautéed in spicy Korean BBQ sauce, topped with Napa cabbage, grape tomato, red onion, and Kimchee mayo, and served in corn tortillas; and a chai/lavender infused creme brûlée.
But when he's not whipping up dishes for Kapow!, where does Holman like to eat in his off time? He raves about Tacos al Carbon in Lake Worth.
"It's just a great small Mexican food place. It's open 24 hours, so I can go there at 3 a.m. and get a taco or burrito or whatever. That's one of my favorite places to go."
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