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Dio Deka chef shares Mediterranean inspirations

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Jeff Fitzgerald

At Dio Deka in Los Gatos, CA, chef Jeff Fitzgerald’s menu features comfort food classics like Moussakas ($28), a casserole of ground lamb, sliced eggplant and potato with béchamel crust and lamb jus; Arni Kotsi ($38), braised lamb shank in egg lemon sauce, fava beans and their greens with fava relish: Dolmathakia, stuffed grape leaves ($9) with braised beef cheek, mushroom puree, crispy mushrooms and egg lemon sauce; and Kotopoulo ($29), herbed chicken breast roasted on the bone, with potatoes and artichokes in chicken drippings, with green olives.

When he was a child in Soquel, CA, Fitzgerald’s family had a garden.

“Every Saturday during the summer, we would go to the garden to harvest. Oleta, the lady who lived there, would cook us lunch. She’s the next best thing to my grandmother, but a much better cook. One day, she made us clams in red sauce and it blew my mind. I don’t know how old I was, but I never had a clam before, so the dish was exotic and beautiful and fun to eat because of the shells. To this day, clams remain one of my favorite things to eat.”

Fitzgerald describes his sources for recipe inspiration today: “I get inspiration in two ways.  The first is to take a traditional Greek dish such as moussaka and stick to the original as much as possible. It just has to be done really, really well. I will try to plate it in way so as to make feel more contemporary, though. The second form of inspiration is ingredient-driven. I will find a unique Greek ingredient and highlight it by doing a dish that has a Greek feel, but no true basis in Greek tradition.”

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