“Lunitas”, one of the key restaurants in Gibsons and on the Sunshine Coast is the baby of Chef/Owner Jody Horne. Modern styled Mexican cuisine (CCC’s take on it) is an outstanding demonstration of the intense and complex layers of flavours that too few people realize the country produces. Want proof there’s more to Mexico than burritos with cheese and ground beef? Stop by Lunitas.
Prior to opening Lunitas, were you working in food services?
My background is in the entertainment industry. I started and ran a music/art festival, EMRG+N+SEE, that happened outside of Portland, Oregon, that ran for about 9 years. Once I moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2008, I was constantly travelling back and forth from here to Portland for team meetings. At that time, the food scene in Portland was blowing up and I would eat out almost every meal while I was there. We would have armadas of interesting food trucks at the festival to feed the 3,000+ patrons all weekend long. I had always been explorative in the kitchen and in the culinary world, in general, but this is really where my “obsession” with food began.
Four years into living on the Sunshine Coast, I decided to call it quits with the festival and be here full-time, I began delving into the culinary arts, big time. I started a food blog that quickly had me dreaming of taking my passion to the next level. I went to Northwest Culinary Academy in Vancouver to immerse myself in my love of food. The training I received from the Chefs there was top notch. Best decision ever! During this time, I committed myself completely to the culinary world. If I wasn’t at school, I was training at many of the finest restaurants in Vancouver or volunteering at the school to help teach evening classes that Northwest hosted. I started dreaming up my next steps.
Shortly after graduating, I started Amuse Supper Club. I would host Secret Supper Clubs at different locations on the Sunshine Coast as well as in Vancouver. I loved creating menus for these sultry nights. Finding the sweet spot where fine dining meets Farm to Table in a fun 7 course menu.
Do you think if you were still living in the States you’d be cooking as your career?
Really hard to say. I am a firm believer in the fact that I am exactly where I need to be and doing exactly what I need to be doing because I have done everything in my life to deliver me to this present moment. Sure, I could be doing something else if I had not made the decision to come up here. I sure am glad I mixed it up though!
If you hadn’t opened a Mexican restaurant, what do you think might’ve been the alternative food genre?
I would be doing Farm to Table/fine dining, for sure. Gosh…I sure love cooking all sorts of different Asian cuisines, too. Tough question. My dream job would be making menus for a living or doing menu consultations for restaurants. This way I could play with all the cuisines!
If your son told you he wanted to join the “family business”, what are you going to tell him?
He is such a ‘lil boss in the kitchen already. We cook together a lot. He has such creative ideas, I can hardly believe it sometimes. I’d love to have him on board at Lunitas someday!
If you had to choose one favourite ingredient, what is it?
Really hard question. One? Maldon Sea Salt…? Too hard.
What does dinner at home look like?
Dinner at home is pretty adorable, mostly. My partner Ryan and I actually met in culinary school. Our favourite thing to do is cook together. There will be great tunes, my son, Loji, will be put to work peeling or chopping veggies for salad and we will probably be sipping a beautiful wine. It’s the most used room in the house, by far. Foodwise, we tend to make lots of green herby sauces, bbq’d everything, go pretty hard on salads, roasted vegetables and locally sourced proteins. We frequent the local farm stands and let that guide our dinner choices.
You and I have had this discussion a few times. Write me a killer menu you’d like to make.
Oh gosh…..too big of a question or task. I put A LOT of thought into a menu. Howzabout I pick one of my past Supper Club menus for you. This one was called Sprung and was inspired by Spring and all it’s glory. I featured a foraged blossom in every course. I hosted this dinner on a rooftop in a garden house rec room.
Who is the chef that most inspires you and what are you making for them when they come to dinner?
Wow. Again with the questions that beg for lengthy answers! It is almost impossible to choose just one. There are so many I admire for such a myriad of reasons. I really love chefs who find themselves following their passions into different cuisines then they’ve experienced growing up. People like Ivan Orkin, a Long Island, NY’er turned famed ramen chef in Tokyo, Japan. Rosio Sanchez who went from her latin roots into the world of pastry and molecular gastronomy at places like WD-50 and then did a complete 180 into the epic focus on naturalism at Noma in Copenhagen. After which she went back to her roots and opened her own spot, bringing Nordic and Mexican cuisine together. Love that kind of story;)
I also have a thing for chefs like Magnus Nielson and Rene Redzepi who think so outside of the box I have shed a tear or two at what they have accomplished in their creative wizardry in the art of their plates. Yes. I am that nerd who wells up at times while watching Chef’s Table:)
Two female chefs that I truly admire are Dominique Crenn and Elena Reygadas. Oh how I love them. I’d probably like to have Elena Reygadas to my table. Eating at her restaurant, Roestta, on my recent trip to Mexico city was very surreal. I really like what she is doing with Mexican cuisine. She’s classically trained in New York and brings French and Italian technique and cuisine into her Mexican restaurant and bakery. I think that this would be my favourite person to cook a meal for. I feel like I could really nerd out on ideas and techniques at such a dinner.
I would most’def be paying homage to her pink mole and recreating a version for her on one of the dishes. Perhaps accompanied by pink peppercorn crusted scallops. I might play with the same ideas of fusing French and Mexican like she does. I love a culinary challenge. Pico de Gallo consume is something we make at Lunitas that goes into our Sangrita that accompanies tequila flights as a pallet cleanser. Here I go. Starting to create a menu in my head.
If you could go to one place in the world for a year to absorb the food culture, where’s it gonna be?
Truthfully, I would go back to Mexico City. I did not get enough time there. If I had an entire year to actually study and stage with chefs in one place at this point in my life, it would be there. I have always dreamed of doing this on the Medeteranian (Italy, Greece, Turkey, etc.) and will someday. But I think I would go back to Mexico City in a heartbeat, if given the chance. It would be a dream come true, actually.
645 School Rd, Gibsons, BC
Phone: (604) 886-1289