I first met Luke Szabo at Baltimore Woods’ Environmental Chef Benefit last fall. Last week I got the chance to stop in to Lofo in Armory Square. Lofo is a must for any local food lover – owner Abigail (a Natural Gourmet Chef and a Certified Health Coach) and Chef Luke are deeply committed to supporting the local food system. AND you can pick up your CSA there on Tuesdays. Lofo’s menu is almost 100% locally sourced, and anything not local is found as nearby and sustainable as possible. Their offerings change daily.
Luke has been at Lofo since last fall, and in the restaurant industry for many years. After starting out as a dishwasher he continued to work his way up in the kitchen. For Luke, cooking gives an opportunity to be creative and express things that aren’t on a paper or with a pen, or on a canvas. “A plate is almost like a canvas, I couldn’t draw a stick figure if my life depended on it, but I can see things better on a plate” Before Lofo Luke spent many years working in the events program at Sheldrake Point on Cayuga Lake and at restaurants in Auburn. At Lofo Luke & Abigail share a common goal of running a completely sustainable dinner service. They’re sourcing local produce, local tilapia, buying whole and half animals, dairy, grains, and anything else they can find. Luke is pictured above prepping some cherry sticks from his yard for smoking potatoes.
What’s your favorite local vegetable & why?
Mushrooms, mushrooms, and mushrooms. I usually pick them myself. My favorites….I love so many. Probably hiriciums, they have the same look and texture as crab meat.
Bonus Question: How do you know which ones to eat?
What you want to do is learn the ones that’ll kill you first. If you learn the ones that’ll kill you you’re pretty safe. The main mushrooms are pretty easy to identify. Morels, nothing else looks like morels. Even a false morel doesn’t even look anything like a morel. Hiriciums they grow on dead wood and trees and logs, nothing really looks like it.
You’re probably never home, but when you are, what’s your go-to quick dinner?
Go to quick meal….I don’t know, usually it’s whatever my wife makes for dinner that’s left on the stove. (Laughs: I’m lucky.) If I had to fend for myself what would I make? I have no idea, beer! Probably a Sweet Baby Jesus, it’s a peanut butter chocolate porter. So I got my dessert and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich all in one. Other than that, probably just like a sandwich.
What 3 ingredients do you always have in your home kitchen?
Paprika, Hungarian Hot Paprika. Butter. Mushrooms, I always have mushrooms.
What would people be surprised to find in your refrigerator?
Probably, moonshine, a friend of mine distilled. We took maple sap from maple trees and instead of making syrup we made whiskey.
What’s your best tip for home cooks?
Don’t think about it, just do it. Don’t even think about it, just put whatever together. That’s the best way to do it. Then you might find something and it’ll be the best thing you ever had.