Mincing Words with Derek Criscuolo

A quick Q&A with some local culinary talent

“Vudu Lounge has the best smoked alligator sausage.” – Derek Criscuolo

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, John Lennon said. When he was a kid, Derek wanted to be an officer with the ASPCA. Today, he’s running the show at Side Bar & Restaurant as chef, overseeing one of the busiest lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch kitchens in town. And it was in kitchens where he honed his craft — most of the time, that is. “The other times, it came by trial and error,” he said.

Do you cook at home? It’s rare. The few occasions I do it’s normally for holidays with the family.

Where do you go to eat in West Chester? Any favorite restaurants in other cities? Vudu Lounge, they have the best smoked alligator sausage. And if you’re ever in downtown Indianapolis, there is a spot there called Garden Table on Massachusetts Avenue. Their brunch is indescribable.

How would you describe West Chester’s food scene? Constantly changing. Between the younger generations of kids coming through the college and the continuous growth of the borough, you have to be on your A game.

Do you have a hobby? I play the drums. It’s a good way to escape for a bit.

Favorite healthy food? Favorite junk food? Favorite comfort food? Favorite healthy is salmon, favorite junk is Entenmann’s mini powdered donuts, and comfort food is baked ziti.

What would you make if you were on a cooking competition? That’s hard to say, with my luck I’d end up on Chopped with a basket full of ingredients that made no sense. But I think I’d still manage to do something amazing!