Matt Holmes takes our questions

The Guthrie Theater, home of the Level Five Cafe

The Guthrie Theater, home of the Level Five Cafe

After many years away from Minnesota (the last nine in Arizona, Michigan before that) the Guthrie's Level Five Cafe Chef Matt Holmes, an Edina native, says, "It was time to come home." Since then, Holmes has been making his mark on the local culinary scene. He spent about a year as executive chef at the Hotel Minneapolis's Restaurant Max before coming on as head chef at Level Five in May. According to a recent Strib blurb, Holmes has "instantly perked the place up," featuring Creole and Italian dishes to complement the plays currently performing at the Guthrie. He says that while most of his background is in French cuisine, he likes experimenting with North African spices and has lately been starting to get into more Asian-inspired dishes. Holmes spent a few minutes with Hot Dish recently:

1) What did you have for breakfast? Cheerios and a banana nut muffin (homemade by his girlfriend).

2) How did you get interested in cooking professionally? "Probably in college," Holmes says, though he says he has worked in restaurants since he was about 16. It was while working at a steakhouse in East Lansing, Mich. during college that he got the bug though."I just kind of fell in love with it." Holmes went to Scottsdale Culinary School in Arizona and went on to work at a few Phoenix-area restaurants, notably the Royal Palms Resort where he was eventually executive sous chef.

3) What is your favorite cooking tool? "Probably either my Japanese chef knives or my plating spoon," Holmes says. Japanese knives, he believes, "hold a better edge, they're a lot sharper, and a lot lighter-weight than a German knife." Holmes's primary knife is a Masamoto brand Gyuto-style knife, which is like a chef's knife. As for his plating spoon, Holmes prefers Gray Kunz.

4) Are you reading anything right now? Holmes generally reads cookbooks, he says. Right now, there are two: The River Cottage Fish Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Nick Fisher, and Simon Wheeler and Everything I Want To Do is Illegal by Joel Salatin.

5) Where do you go eat on your days off? "All over really. I try and kind of go to different places," Holmes says. "But I really like Café Vin, Origami, and the bar at La Belle Vie."