Look Who’s Cookin’: Diana Bratton

A fun Q&A with some of the state’s up-and-coming chefs as well as culinary superstars.

Photography by Janet Warlick



Café 1217 & Taco Mama / Hot Springs

Hometown: McAllen, Texas.

Are you a formally trained chef or an on-the-job-trained cook? Both.

Where were you trained? I was formally trained at El Centro College in Dallas, Texas. I was also trained at home by my mother, who was an amazing cook, and at City Café in Dallas.

How many years have you worked in the food industry? 27 years and counting.

What or who inspired you to become a chef/cook? I would have to say both my parents — who never would have dreamed I’d go to cooking school — were my inspiration. When I was 4 or so they bought me a set of toy cast-aluminum cookware from a trip to Mexico… I was hooked.

What was the first item or meal you prepared? Salsa. My dad taught me how to make it in his mortar.

What is your favorite meal to prepare? Texas-style barbecue — my brothers were great at it. My dad owned a used car lot, and my brothers barbecued just about every Saturday at the “garage.”

What is your favorite meal? I love smoked meats; probably grilled smoked sausage with avocado pico in a tortilla. I keep telling myself I’m going to do this at Taco Mama.

What is your favorite food to eat out? Really good pizza and a cold beer.

What is your favorite junk food? Movie popcorn doused with Raisinets.

What is your favorite type of cuisine (i.e., Chinese, Italian, etc.)? Mexican, Thai and Mediterranean, in that order.

What is your favorite utensil, gadget or piece of equipment? I would have to say my Robot Coupe food processor.

Where do you find new recipes? The Internet.

Where do you find ideas for new recipes? My husband, Shane — he loves researching restaurants and menus.

For whom would you most like to prepare a meal? Julia Child, of course! If I screwed up, I know she would have been very forgiving.

Music or silence? Silence.

Salty or sweet? Salty.

Bake or “nah”? Not my favorite, but I have a knack for it.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Cocktail — most anything with tequila. I love a good Paloma.

Do you cook at home? Some. My husband, Shane, absolutely loves to cook, so this is usually his gig at home. I’m laundry girl… and vacuum girl. Oh, and the feed-the-dogs-and-cats girl; I’m their chef.

What food or meal do you wish you’d invented? Ice cream, wait… tacos. It’s a toss-up.

What food trends do you like or hate the most? The bacon trend has been strong for a while now. I heart bacon. I hate tiny food with foams. Foams just don’t sound good. A sauce made with butter sounds soooo much better.

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