Interview with Chef Sean from Proof

Chef Sean Wilson took over Proof Restaurant at 1301 Locust Street in Des Moines after a friend decided to sell the Restaurant, formerly known as….Proof.


He thought it was a great way to prove what they could do and make high-end Mediterranean cuisine accessible to everyone.


Sean grew up in a small town where everyone either went into Construction, fishing or cooking, so he knew how to cook very young, but found his calling after stints as an actuary and serving in the Coast Guard


Chef Sean believes a big part of his success is his business methods.  He treats his staff very well and in turn, they love their jobs and produce the best products.  He says they are like a family at Proof.

Chef Sean loves to have fun while creating new things.  While he isn’t big into competition, he knows that his food is among the best and is excited about Battledish on October 5th to be able to show off some of his creations.


Read our full review of Proof Restaurant here.  Since our last review of Proof, we’ve been to two of their “Second Saturday” dinners which I discuss in the review and they were both out of this world.  Get signed up early because they usually sell out about two weeks before each event!  The pictures shown are from the last Second Saturday, a beef tartare and an iced tea cocktail.

Interview with Chef Sam from Tacopocalypse

After getting its start at the Cumming Tap three years ago, Tacopocalypse is already ridiculously successful in its new location in the East Village.

Sam and his crew serve hundreds of hungry customers, innovative taco, burrito and nacho creations each day.  If you’ve read my blog before you know how awesome I think Tacopocalypse food is.  You can read our review about Brunchpocalypse here.

But his story doesn’t begin there.  He’s been cooking for himself since he was a little kid.  However, a bout of the stomach flu kept him away from eating tacos for about 5 years!  I couldn’t believe someone who stayed away from tacos for so long can cook up some of the best around.

Chef Sam has chosen to compete in Battledish Des Moines 2013 because he has no doubts that his food can stand up to the best.  He is also excited to try some new recipes out on the Battledish attendees.  There are no guarantees, but Battledish goers might just get a chance to sample some of the first Tacopoca-noodles!  (I just made that name up, but I think it’s pretty ingenious.)

Sam is a pretty interesting guy.  For a long time he was Vegan. He had a big impact on the Vegan restaurant scene in Des Moines as he worked in a ton of local restaurants and introduced his creative elements to lots of them.

Sometimes Sam is underestimated, like when he was hired at Centro to be a salad guy and was promoted within weeks to Sous Chef because they admitted they made a mistake.  But Sam has a style of his own.  He taught himself to make sushi and was highly successful as Executive Chef at Zen until its closing.  He didn’t last long at Miyabi 9 though because he just wouldn’t conform to someone else’s style of doing things.  Sam feels that the best food isn’t going to be found in the most expensive restaurants, but maybe in a gas station in Louisiana, or a taco stand at a bar in a town of 50.

I asked Sam where his drive comes from to take Tacopocalypse to such a high level in such a short amount of time and to open two restaurants at the same time.  Sam says he’s just crazy about food.  He just can’t stop thinking about it.

We can’t wait for the battle!  But if you can’t wait either, you can always stop into Tacopocalypse on E 6th street in the East Village any day of the week!

Interview with Chef Mike from Dos Rios

We got a sneak peak at what Chef Mike Holman, Executive Chef at Dos Rios is going to be serving up for competition during BattleDish on October 5th!  We are already fans of their regular menu, lunch specials and happy hour appetizer and drink specials, but Chef Mike is cooking up something new for the Battle.  Read our review of the lunch menu here.



Chef Holman has been cooking professionally for over 17 years.  After figuring out early on that he wouldn’t be using his degree in Finance, he went back to school at The Iowa Culinary Institute to pursue his real passion.  After working at a cafe in Ames for 7 years, he’s had much success in his culinary endeavors such as being the Executive Chef at Americana at it’s opening and also at Tartine.  He’s now had the opportunity to be the Executive Chef for Dos Rios and Big City Burger and Greens.  Look out for some big news coming soon this fall too!

For the competition he’s featuring an Argentinian beef tenderloin with fire roasted peppers, pickled onions, boiled eggs, mango vinaigrette and arugula served on homemade French rolls.  YUM!  It will be paired with a South American sangria cocktail with cachaca, absinthe, orange liquor, Mexican brandy, fresh fruit and topped with pino, wow!  This is going to be some fierce competition.

We are totally impressed with the lineup in this competition.  They are featuring the Executive Chefs from BOS, Liberty’s, Alba, Tacopocalypse, Proof and Gusto!  Here is more info about Battledish and how to purchase tickets.

Chef Mike enjoys his job because it is never the same two days in a row.  He’s excited about Battledish because he loves a good competition. He knows his food can stand up to the best, and on October 5th we’ll see where he stands!

If you can’t make it on October 5th or just can’t get enough awesome food, check out Chef Mike’s Tequila dinner on October 17th! A 5 course meal paired with hand-crafted tequila cocktails.  There will be giveaways, guest speakers from Silvercoin Tequila and more.  Don’t miss it!

Liberty’s-An Iowa Grill

I’m proud to present the next BattleDish competitor, Executive Chef from Liberty’s-

An Iowa Grill, Jeff Deets!  Liberty’s is located in the Embassy Suites in the East Village area in downtown Des Moines.  Even though this restaurant is hidden inside the hotel, this restaurant is a hidden gem.

During our interview I got to have lunch a lovely lunch of roasted corn chowder, which was superb.  Thick and creamy with chunks of thick bacon, soft potatoes and lots of roasted sweet corn.  I ate the whole bowl and that would have been a satisfying lunch in itself.

We also had the Liberty’s best burger.  Because well, if it said Liberty’s best, it seemed like the item to try to get a taste for the place.  We weren’t disappointed.  At first glance it looked heavy on the cole slaw and light on the pulled pork, but the creamy slaw




was really the highlight of the burger with the slightly sweet and soft bun.  It was reallygood.  And I loved the sweet potato/regular potato fry mix that came in the cute paper bag.  Extra points for presentation.

Our server was friendly and attentive and our meal arrived very quickly but hot and fresh.

Chef Deets was fun to get to know.  He grew up and graduated from high school in Johnston and attended Le Cordon Bleu and Iowa Culinary Institute.  He began his career at Hyperion Country Club in Johnston before working as Sous Chef under Chef John Andres from BOS for 3 years. As you can see this BattleDish will be some heated competition!!

Chef Deets later joined the John Q. Hammons hotel family at the Sheraton of West Des Moines as Executive Sous Chef before just a month ago receiving the honor of Executive Chef here at Liberty’s at the Embassy Suites.

Chef Deets lives to work in the kitchen.  He has a passion for working long hours and having a hand in everything.  He’s most excited about BattleDish to showcase one of his new menu items!  A brand new, Chef-inspired menu of his own creation, will be released on October 1st and BattleDish guests will be some of the first to get to try it.

Come out and try lunch or dinner here at Liberty’s, you won’t be disappointed.  And if you want to witness the battle between mentor, Chef Andres and former Student, Chef Deets, come to BattleDish on October 5th!  More info here.


I am very excited that I get the honor of being a judge at the first annual BattleDish that is going on on October 5th from 2-6pm.  6 popular local Chefs will be battling for the title of “King of BattleDish”.  Ticket information can be found here.

One of the contestants will be John Andres, Executive Chef from BOS Restaurant located in the Renaissance Savery hotel.  I had the unique opportunity to interview him today!

We started by having a lovely breakfast in the restaurant of corn cakes (yes, they look like pancakes, but are actually cornmeal) served with apple butter and maple pepper bacon.  So good! We also sampled berry smoothies and had a great meal.
Chef John has a great story as he actually started out as a violin major at Drake before ultimately graduating with a business degree and attending culinary school in New York.

Upon returning to Des Moines after working in various popular venues in New York and New Jersey, John had the opportunity to creative his own work of art here at the Renaissance Savery.  BOS is his creative vision and culinary style of his own.  He named it BOS because BOS is “beef” in Latin and he wanted to bring the style of the Midwest together in a contemporary way using local products.

At BOS he strives to bring this Midwestern concept together not just through the good-tasting food (which he does), but also with Midwestern hospitality.  With Battledish, John wants to help spread the word that BOS is not just for hotel patrons, but for anyone who wants to experience good food and friendly service.

They serve a breakfast buffet everyday as well as a lunch buffet every weekday.  Dinner is served Monday thru Saturday with his unique spin on dishes such as truffled vegetable risotto and atlantic grilled salmon.   They have an impressive gluten-free menu as well as very friendly staff who are fun to get to know.  If Subbu is your waiter, make sure to ask him to tell you some stories from his days working on cruise ships.  So funny!

Hope you make it out to try some of John’s signature dishes as well as taste his Battledish entry on October 5th!  I know I can’t wait!