Ever wanted to get to know more about the chefs behind the food served at AVI? We sat down with Brian Gulu, the executive chef, and Jeremy Valentine, the sous chef, to learn more about them. Gulu has been working at Malone for four months. Valentine has been working at Malone for one year and three months.
Aviso: Where did you grow up?
Gulu: I grew up in Youngstown. Eastside of Youngstown.
Valentine: I grew up in Canfield, just south of Youngstown.
Aviso: What is your favorite or least favorite thing about growing up in Ohio?
Gulu: Ohio is very family oriented. The Ohio Valley is very nice. We are about an hour away from Pittsburgh and Cleveland. We are right there in the center of a lot of stuff. It’s a good area to live, but at the same time a horrible area because the snow is killing me.
Valentine: My favorite part about this area is you are right in between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. It’s not too much travel to take small, one-day vacations. It is very interesting to see all four seasons pretty much at their extreme. Summer 105 degrees and then winter negative five.
Aviso: What do you do when you travel with AVI?
Gulu: It really depends. If we take over a new account and we are partnering with a transition team, basically situating them and moving in the new people. It’s a very demanding thing to do when you do transitions. Or you have to go and help other accounts out because they are shorthanded.
Valentine: Our big thing last summer was a cancer bike race down in Columbus. We fed 23,000 people.
Aviso: Where did you go to school?
Gulu: I didn’t go to culinary school. I did go to YSU for two and a half years for art education.
Valentine: I went to Pennsylvania Culinary Institute for an associate’s degree in culinary arts.
Aviso: What got you interested in cooking?
Gulu: I basically grew up watching my mom and grandma. Growing up Italian, you basically live in a kitchen. I basically loved art. As time has gone on, food has turned into art. It’s my new form of art. Instead of painting or sketching, it’s cooking.
Valentine: I wanted to learn how to cook, and it led to such a fascinating career of leading people and showing them how to cook.
Aviso: Where do you get your recipes from?
Gulu: Trial and error! I’ve asked my mom many times for recipes and she’s just like, “It’s a pinch of this and a pinch of that.” So you just learn.
Aviso: What is your favorite type of food?
Gulu: Mediterranean. Just because you get a lot of influence. You get Greece, you get Italy, Spain and Portugal. France is mixed into it as well. A lot of big flavors.
Valentine: I really like German food. Because of the long cooking times, there are hours’ worth of work in each meal and you can taste each flavor separately. You can tell it’s been cooking together for so long.
Aviso: Any restaurants in Canton you enjoy going to?
Gulu: I don’t really know much about the Canton area. We try to go to Cleveland as much as possible just because there is such a diverse [selection] of restaurants there, from classical French to classical Italian to different food infused together. And then you have some cool funky spots where it’s pure fat kid heaven like Melt.
Valentine: I’ve been to Basil. That place is actually really good. They have ramen bowls.