Executive Chef Alyna Baker of Ciro’s Speakeasy & Restaurant selects Piquant’s duck confit flatbread
How long have you been with Ciro’s?
I just took over about 3 weeks ago. I came to SoHo Hospitality the day after Christmas in 2013 and started working at Copperfish. I had previously worked at Aqua at the Westin. Basically my boss came up to me one day and said you’re being offered the head chef position and you’d be crazy if you don’t accept it. At first I was very hesitant because I’m only 23 and that’s a lot to take on. But the more I started thinking about it I realized it is the opportunity of a lifetime.
How did you get into cooking?
My mother cooked foods from around the world. I was very lucky growing up because she presented me with flavors from all over.
What was your first cooking job?
I went to Wharton High School, and we have an amazing culinary program up there. I started cooking my junior year when I was 15. My first job was getting paid under the table at Sushi Co. After school I went to the Culinary Institute of America in New York City. I lived there for three years and then moved back to Tampa.
What makes the duck confit flatbread one of your favorite dishes in Tampa?
It’s to die for. The sweet glaze goes so well with the duck. The flatbread is light and crispy; it’s not too doughy. They cure the duck and cook it slow so it has this crisp outer layer but moist inside that falls apart in your mouth. It’s one of those dishes that you can just have over and over.
What can guests expect to find on your Ciro’s new menu?
I want to offer interactive dishes, like our new deviled egg set, which comes as a full egg that you can share.
Besides the deviled eggs, what’s one dish I have to try?
The seared scallops. They come with a sweet banana polenta and bacon bourbon glaze.
This edition is centered on the history of Howard Avenue’s Restaurant Row. What’s your favorite spot on Howard?
I don’t hang out in SoHo very often, but some of us from work started going to Cheap for Thursday hospitality night. I also love Yard of Ale’s giant Jenga set!
What’s one food you won’t eat?
I’m very iffy about chicken. I’m very careful when I eat it.
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
What is one ingredient you must have in your kitchen?
Kosher salt. My boyfriend says that I’d put salt on salt if I could.
Duck confit Flatbread
Duck confit, guava BBQ sauce, bleu cheese, pickled onion, peppadew pepper, micro cilantro
Try it: Piquant, 1633 W. Snow Ave., Tampa, FL 33606. For more information, call (813) 251-1777 or visit www.PiquantHydePark.com.