Recently I posed the question: If you are what you eat, what does your choice of a last meal say about you? If you had one day left on earth, what would you eat, and why? It’s become my new favorite question to ask my friends as we are talking over a bottle of wine. What you eat, how you dine, and how you view food speaks to who you are in so many ways. And because Dayton has so many delicious and interesting food options, surely there’s a meal worthy of a last bite here in town.
In an effort to gain some insight into one of Dayton’s fantastic food lovers and makers, I sat down with Crystal Coppock to learn all about her last meal. Crystal is an up-and-coming chef who has gained a vast amount of culinary knowledge at a young age. Her love of food is contagious, and her kitchen skills are top notch.
Lucky for us Daytonians, we get to eat her delicious creations any night of the week at Wheat Penny Restaurant, where she is the sous chef. Crystal is the first to admit that her life revolves around food. When she’s not cooking food, she’s thinking about it, when she’s not thinking about it, she’s eating it, when she’s not eating it, she’s reading about it. Food is life, for Crystal, and that shines through in her dishes.
Crystal’s love of all things culinary stems from the south and cooking with her grandmother when she was a young girl. Crystal is still trying to master her grandma’s chicken and dumplings, a signature dish of the south, but her love of food has extended from the south to all over the world. As far as cooking goes, Crystal’s passion is in all things Italian. She serves up incredible pizzas at Wheat Penny, and is mastering the art of pasta in her home cooking. But what spot on Dayton’s map would Crystal choose for her last meal? Corner Kitchen.
A year ago Crystal stopped in for dinner and had the meal of her Dayton life. The best part? It wasn’t even her meal. Out to dinner with her fiancé, she found herself drooling over the plate across from her. Crystal was fully prepared to steal, but fortunately her fiancé Marysa was willing to share her pan-seared monkfish, greens dressed with a bacon vinaigrette, and a house-made potato cake.
The fish was cooked to perfection, well-seasoned, flaky, and decadent, but it didn’t stop there.
“The greens!” Crystal explained. “Not some push-to-the-side, forget about ‘em greens. I found myself picking the last little leaf of arugula off the plate.”
But neither the fish or the delightful salad were the true star of the show.
“The potato cake made me well up with tears at the table. I took that first luxurious, crunchy yet cloud-like bite and I was transported to somewhere else. Instantly I’m seven years old, I’m seated at my grandparents’ table and I’m stretching my too-short arms across the table to snag one of my grandma’s potato cakes.”
That’s the thing about food -- it transcends time and space. A really good meal can catapult you back to a memory, sitting at a familiar kitchen table, eating soul-satisfying food with the people you love the most. How lucky are we to not only have a spot to eat that can do that for all of us, but a Chef in town who relishes that feeling and works hard to do the same?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tess is a restaurant professional, home-baker and downtown Dayton dweller. When she's not mixing drinks for restaurant patrons, she's drinking champagne, buying shoes, or writing her blog, Ciao Vella. You can read about her home recipes, party planning tips, and more at www.CiaoVellaBlog.com.