There are many reasons to visit Vino in the Valley – but if you come for the food you’re bound to leave with a full belly and a smile on your face. Have you ever wondered who’s at work in the kitchen preparing this Italian fare? Read on to see the faces behind the food and get to know a little more about them, too.
Erik Hendrickson, Head Chef (pictured, right)
This is Erik’s 7th season at Vino in the Valley. He began is Vino career as a pizza cook, then a line cook, and is now Head Chef/Kitchen Manager. When asked what made him decide to join the kitchen crew, he replied, “It was never really a decision, I started in the restaurant industry at a young age for my first job and continued to gain experience and an appreciation for food.”
His favorite dish to make at Vino is the Shrimp Linguini. “It is a completely made to order entrée with a sequence of steps that creates a white wine butter sauce utilizing our own Moonlight Whisper White wine,” says Erik. But when it’s his turn to eat, you’ll see him going for the Stuffed Mushrooms.
When Erik’s not working for Vino, he works for the County Highway Department. He also enjoys eating out, riding motorcycle, fishing, and spending time with his fiancé, Ali (yes, our Erik is getting married!).
Bryon Wendt, Head Chef (pictured, left)
This is Bryon’s first season at Vino in the Valley but it didn’t take us long to see that he’s a great fit! He’s fast and he really enjoys being in the kitchen. “I have a joy for cooking and love being creative with it,” says Bryon. His favorite dish to prepare at Vino is the Portobello Mushroom Ravioli, while this favorite dish to eat is the Pepper Sausage Rustica. His most requested meal from friends and family is his Turkey Club Soup (we’re wondering if he’d whip up a batch for October weekends?!).
When asked if he had any tips to share, he said, “Cooking is a passion. A lot of good recipes come from trial and error. Never be afraid to try something new.” We don’t know about you, but that sounds like some pretty solid advice to us.
When Bryon’s not working he enjoys spending time with this wife, children, and grandkids (we didn’t think he looked old enough either!).
Mike Mathison, Assistant Chef (pictured, center)
Another important member of our kitchen team this year is Mike. As kitchen expediter, he makes sure each and every dish is complete and beautifully presented before it’s served to our guests.
Mike began his career at Vino in 2010 as a pizza chef, although like many who work in the profession, he began his food service career as a dishwasher many years ago and worked his way up (and around) the restaurants into many different jobs. “That’s one thing that really appeals to me about my current role,” says Mike. “I like variety and I’ve certainly got a lot of it in this position.”
Most of Mike’s focus in the kitchen is on appetizers, and he highly recommends the Stuffed Mushrooms; however, when he’s ordering off the menu for himself, odds are it’s the Portobello Mushroom Ravioli he’ll choose. His sense of humor comes in extremely handy; he’s skilled at keeping everyone laughing in the kitchen. When not on duty at Vino? Well, no wife, kids or girlfriend (yes, ladies, Mike’s “available”), so you’ll find him watching baseball (he’s a White Sox fan).