When the idea came to me about trying to build better bonds between the local purveyors of food and drink with their communities, the first person I approached was Cheryl Chang, the Chef/ Owner of Nourish in Sechelt. I sent her a series of questions for which she responded candidly and I realized this new Q&A idea was something to build on. So when I approached some of the other personalities with the idea, I used the post with Nourish as my example. What I didn’t do very well however was explain it was only meant to be an example and not one set of questions for all. I wanted to tailor each post to the individual I had addressed the idea to. However, in the case of Aldo Cogrossi at Trattoria and here with Chef Murphy, their responses to the questions I’d asked Cheryl Chang were so good, I couldn’t ask them to write answers all over again.
Read on and get to know El Segundo’s Chef and Managing Partner Heidi Murphy.
How Long have you been cooking?
I’ve been cooking ever since I was a little kid. I can remember sitting on the counter at my Grandma’s house playing with the spice rack every weekend. It was my first introduction to an array of flavours, she would cook up the lentils and I would use the spice rack to invent a new curry combinations.
Who or what inspired you to want to make food your living?
People. Whether I was in working at a skate shop or serving at a diner I always loved interacting with guest and assisting them to find little gems of happiness in their experience. But I think it’s management that really makes me happy. It’s the family you build and the people you inspire that give the job meaning. I think the moments I’ve cherished the most were watching young staff breakout of there shells and gain confidence, or helping someone who was struggling get back on their feet again.
Describe the food you’re making at El Segundo.
It’s vibrant and fun! El Segundo is really a creative playground and I wanted to offer Sechelt a truly different option. Once we narrowed down our brand concept I started to make a menu that was inspired by the Pacific Rim and Californian street food, a melting pot of flavour, and a tendency to lean into nostalgia. Serving approachable items like tacos, with interesting ingredients like duck and popcorn or pork and ramen egg. It’s fun and full of flavour.
What do you see as your role in the Sunshine Coast Food scene?
A game changer. I really wanted to bring something so different to the Coast that it would bring a fun new vibe and hopefully it would give entrepreneurs waiting on ideas wondering if the Coast was ready for it inspiration to take the chance. I’m so happy our town has something unique to offer the BC tourism market because of the restaurants we have. As a foodie it can be disappointing to travel to smaller towns and just to find the same chain restaurants everyone is use to.
Who in the industry has or continues to influence you?
The first Chef to come to mind is definitely Dan Barber. His Ted Talks blew my mind. He’s trying to create a culture of sustainability, reduced waste, and ethical practices that I can really get behind. Not to mention providing chickens with a delicious diet that would have them laying red-yolked eggs!
Where do you think you see yourself in 5 years? Aspirations?
I have a few more menus and concepts in mind that I continue to build upon. I enjoy creating and I don’t think that will ever stop. I think that opening another restaurant or two is a given, I am so happy with our team of staff and my business partners at El Segundo that expanding seems inevitable. And of course, when COVID’s over I’ll be taking the family to Hawaii to check out the tiki bars and enjoy some sun and beach.
What’s your favourite tool in the kitchen?
There’s just too many to chose from! At home it’s my hot pink chef’s knife and cast iron pan but in El’s kitchen it’s whatever it takes to get the idea’s outta my head and on to the plate!
What’s your “signature dish”?
Here it’s gotta be the Pepp-Pepp Roulette, it’s fun, exciting, and taste awesome! It’s funny because we sell so few of them compared to other items on our menu, but everyone who tries it orders it again and again!
What do you make at home?
Lately, I’ve been on an Italian food kick. It’s so quick, and simple. I like making charcuterie boards and sharing them with the neighbours or prepping taco stuff and heading to the beach to make them over the campfire. When you live on the Coast and you are surrounded by beaches there’s only so many hotdogs you can eat, so you gotta change it up!
When you go out to eat, where and why?
I love heading in to Vancouver for fun food. It’s always a treat to stop at New Town for Pineapple Coconut buns and Dim Sum. I have to grab fried chicken every time I’m in the city too! I will happy wait outside in the rain for some Down Low Chicken Shack any day!!
What’s you desert island pick for food?
Well I would be happy to replace my morning coffee with a cup full of Butter Chicken sauce if it wasn’t for the calories! But, If I was on a desert island it would be Taco’s ! There’s so much versatility! Assuming it would be a tropical island, you might find me collecting coconuts, pineapples, and sugar cane so I could have a Pina Colada to go with them too!
5755 Cowrie St