Lily’s Dayton executive chef’s deviled eggs are tested by other chefs

“It’s a great opportunity to teach people flavors and balancing and texture.”

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

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Since opening in 2013, deviled eggs have been a staple at Lily’s Dayton, located in the Oregon District.

“It’s the only menu item that has been on every menu,” owner Emily Mendenhall said. “Our approach to hospitality has always been a very warm and welcoming and homey kind of approach and I feel like that’s the kind of dish that sets that tone.”

Flavors and ideas are endless

The flavor of deviled eggs typically changes twice a week. From favorites like Bloody Mary and Cheeseburger to Chili Lime, Caribbean Jerk, Chipotle Pumpkin or Buffalo, the possibilities are endless.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

“There’s never a shortage of opinions or ideas back there,” said executive chef Don Warfe, who recently returned to Lily’s in October 2023.

Deviled eggs are made within the pantry station of the kitchen, which is usually where line cooks begin. They start collaborating with the other chefs and having them taste their latest creations — finding out what may be missing or learning new tips and tricks.

“It’s a great opportunity to teach people flavors and balancing and texture,” Warfe said. “It keeps things interesting for the line cooks too.”

Comfort food resonates with people

Deviled eggs are not an odd dish to have on a restaurant menu. They seem to be very prevalent around the Dayton region.

Mendenhall noted there was a push around 2010-2015 towards homey food. She thinks deviled eggs are one of those comfort dishes that resonate with people. Warfe added that it’s a comfort food that’s not pretentious, but can still be made elevated and with craft and care.

“Comfort food translates into so many things and deviled eggs to start off our menu is really inviting and conceptionally make sense,” Mendenhall said.

New menu

Lily’s recently released a new dinner menu featuring Rumaki, a soon-to-rotate menu item. Rumaki, described as an old school tiki dish, is sweet, savory and spicy bites of bacon wrapped water chestnuts on toothpicks. Warfe is looking forward to introducing different types of Rumaki.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Two other dishes he is excited for are:

  • Double Sticky Country Ribs and Jumeokbap: Oven-roasted tender country pork ribs ‘stickied’ with tamarind BBQ and served with jumeokbap aka Korean sticky rice balls
  • “Banh Mi” Wedge Salad: Crisp iceberg wedge, stacked with house pickled vegetables: carrots, daikons, red onions, and cucumbers. Topped with kewpie roasted sesame dressing, fresh jalapeños and cilantro

Warfe said he had a lot of fun creating this menu because he put ingredients together that typically aren’t presented together. For example, he used tamarind, typically used in Indian cuisine, and jumeokbap, typically scene in Korean cuisine, for the Double Sticky Country Ribs and Jumeokbap dish.

Other items guests should look forward to include the return of mashed potatoes and the makeover of the chicken sandwich.

Warfe also previewed a brunch special — a Scotch Devil featuring a scotch egg (a hard boiled egg that’s wrapped in sausage and breaded and fried) that has had the yolk removed and is filled with deviled egg filling.

Warfe’s creativeness in the kitchen stems from his love for art, painting and all things crafting. He was actually in the midst of going to school for graphic design when he found his love for culinary while working at a fine dining restaurant called Buddakan in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mendenhall and Warfe are excited for this new menu because it highlights what the restaurant has always wanted to be since it was revamped into a tiki-influenced bar with global cuisine in 2020. Warfe said he feels like he is finishing what he started by returning to Lily’s and introducing its latest menu.

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