“MasterChef” fan favorite Derrick Fox serves a five course meal on a skating rink
By Shanee Edwards
Derrick Fox has all the ingredients of a celebrity chef: rock ’n’ roll seasoning, bad boy good looks and a killer instinct when it comes to food. You may have seen him as Derrick Peltz (he took his wife’s surname when they got married this year) on Season 6 of TV’s “MasterChef,” where he was voted fan favorite.
The Florida native learned to play drums as a teenager and became a touring musician in his 20s, with the music biz bringing him to L.A.’s Westside about a decade ago. He always loved cooking for his bandmates, so on a whim he decided to audition for “MasterChef.”
But as Fox’s culinary star began to rise, he didn’t 86 rock ’n’ roll from the menu. In fact, he’s found the two go hand-in-hand: “You have to have a rhythm in the kitchen to be successful,” he tells me.
All those years on tour also gave Fox a “show must go on” mindset of being able to problem-solve on the fly in different venues night after night. That’ll come in handy for his next adventure: “Dinner on Ice,” an outdoor pop-up dining experience at ICE Santa Monica. On Tuesday, Fox will attempt to serve a five-course meal to diners on ice skates. And yes, there will be cocktails.
Asked whether skating and dining sounds like a recipe for spills, Fox laughs.
“I think it sounds awesome! People just have to skate around in a circle, not do tricks and stuff,” he says.
But he knows that pop-ups can be incredibly challenging. For one, the ice rink doesn’t have a kitchen, so they’ll have to set up propane stoves and portable convection ovens to get the job done.
So, what can we expect from the culinary portion of Dinner on Ice?
“The theme is ‘fire and ice,’ with lots of contrast between hot and cold,” Fox explains. “We’ll have a hot miso cod with a shaved purple carrot puree and soy reduction. On the cold side will be oysters with rosé granite — which is basically a rosé wine slushy on top. We’ll also have spicy crab bites on top of cucumber, combining cold with some heat.”
For my money, it’s the dessert course that’s number one with a bullet: a self-serve s’mores station.
“I envision them skating over, grabbing a skewer and roasting a marshmallow,” says Fox. “I don’t know the logistics of how everything is going to be set up, but that’s the fun of doing a pop-up.”
And that’s OK, because Fox attributes his success in the kitchen to what he calls a “yes mentality” — an ideology he also learned on the road as a musician.
“You have to believe anything is possible. Sometimes you’ll get to the location and the power will go out. So, I think, we’ve got to find ice to keep things cold. We’ve got to find fire, so we need a grill. Or maybe there’s nowhere to park, so you have to load in from really far away. Do you know how many times as a struggling musician I had to carry my drums for blocks? Those things don’t discourage me,” he says, “whereas some chefs would let their ego take over and cancel the event, but I’m not that kind of guy.”
When Fox isn’t pairing food with winter sports, he’s flying all over the world to cook private dinners.
“Within the span of a week, I cooked down in Turks and Caicos at the most amazing villa on the coast. Four days later, I was in northern British Columbia in two feet of snow. Then, I flew to Atlanta to cook a private dinner and they put me up in a hotel. My pork belly takes 36 hours to cook though, so I had to start it in the hotel and bring it to the dinner.”
Fox does have his own restaurant in the works, but that only leads him back to music. His new band, Rogue Star, will release an album shortly. Their first single, “Angels Down,” is already on iTunes and Spotify.
“The goal,” says Fox, “is to always keep the music going. It’s what grounds me. It’s what inspires me. Without music, there wouldn’t be food.”
Derrick Fox serves “Dinner on Ice” from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 16) at ICE Santa Monica, near Arizona Avenue and 5th Street. Tickets are $100 and include dinner, cocktail pairings and ice skating. Visit dinneroniceSM.com.