by Charley Zimmerman
Charley Zimmerman: How did you get into cooking?
Dylan Barwise: I started working as a dishwasher at the White Barn Inn at the age of 15. We lost a couple of cooks, and I was sort of thrusted into it. It was stressful at first, but I got the hang of it.
My first real teacher was David Anton, he really took me under his wing and made me feel comfortable in the kitchen. I learned how to do the basics, like knife skills, sauces, reductions, purees, the building blocks of cooking.
I did breakfast shifts for a year before I took a class at the Portland Art and Technology High School, where I spent four hours each morning learning the basics of baking. Six months into the class, I got an official apprenticeship at the White Barn, where I was able to finish out my senior year as a baker, and worked the line on the weekends.
And honestly, I hated baking. I hated the early, solitary hours, and how much perfection it demanded. Looking back, however, it made me more focused. It made me a better cook.
CZ: How long have you been at Old Vines?
DB: This is my 4th year.
CZ: What do your job duties include?
DB: I try to make sure the team is in good spirits, and get to things that Joel can't: cleaning, ordering, keeping track of inventory, ideas for snacks and specials, managing people to a certain extent.
CZ: What are some of your favorite things about the job?
DB: Having the opportunity to create something new, to work with new food and techniques. I love constantly learning and bettering myself as a cook, becoming more refined. I learn a lot from Joel and I love trying to perfect the things he teaches me, but I love that I am able to teach him things too.
CZ: What are some of your least favorite things about the job?
DB: Chicken meatballs.
I'm kidding. I get stressed working the line, it's very intense - especially as we move into the busy season, especially as Old Vines is just busier in general. It's very different from when I first started. It's hard having the Sous Chef position at my age, people think that I'm young and inexperienced, but that's not true.
CZ: What are your long-term goals?
DB I would like to become head chef at some point. Definitely to keep growing and to keep pushing myself.
CZ: What do you like about working at Old Vines?
DB: The people, our team. I love everyone, even if it doesn't seem like it all the time. Everyone cares about each other, everyone's trying to help everyone else. It's a really unified team, everyone works for the common good. And, at the end of the shift, no matter how trying, we can always sit down and have a drink together.
CZ: What's the biggest challenge Old Vines has posed to you?
DB: In a professional sense, trying to keep things new and fresh. Creating menus is a lot of work, to come up with new dishes, to think about stuff that people want. It's a lot of work, but its a really satisfying accomplishment.
In a personal sense, Old Vines has challenge me to mature and to take myself and my job seriously, and not only seriously but to take pride in the work that I ... we ... do here.
CZ: Finally, where do you go out to eat in town, when you do?
DB: White Barn Inn, any day of the week -- though I admit I am biased. Earth, I have never been but it's on the top of my list to try.