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Star Grazing

Laura Ness | December 5, 2018 | Food & Drink Story Eat and Drink

At Dio Deka, Greek for the numerals 210 in the Main Street address of the Los Gatos restaurant that serves up Mediterranean fare, all five managing partners spread cheer by delivering amuse- bouches from the new executive chef, Bronson Macomber. On a recent night, these included curled ribbons of zucchini atop a dollop of Greek yogurt with peppercorn-sized pearls of smoked trout roe and a miniature sprig of dill. “It sets the tone for the evening,” Macomber says.

Novel experiences are key at the upscale restaurant. But Macomber is striking a careful balance between revising the menu to provide new, more carefully plated and artistic delights without upsetting the many regulars who have come to love and expect its formerly rustic fare. His experience stands him in good stead. He comes to Dio Deka by way of Hawaii, where he was born; Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena Culinary, where he trained; and the one-Michelin-starred Joe’s in Venice, Gary Danko in San Francisco and, more recently, Relais & Châteaux Elderberry House near Yosemite.

Dio Deka’s partners would like nothing more than to reclaim the Michelin star earned under chef Sal Calisi, who
left for Odeum in Morgan Hill in 2011. (Subsequent chefs included Marty Cattaneo, now at Bon Appetit @ Google; and William Roberts, now at Taverna in Palo Alto.)

Transition is underway with new systems, recipes and better information flow. Says Macomber, “There’s a lot more structure now.” He’s instilling the kitchen staff with pride of ownership as well, urging them to treat even the vegetables with more respect—cooking them in a bath of water and butter, rather than frying them in
oil, for better flavor. “You have to respect vegetables! Don’t put out anything you’re not confident in,” he insists. “Feeding someone is a personal and intimate relationship. It must taste good, first
and foremost.”

He’s removed dishes that didn’t work, like moussaka. “If you’re going to have a Greek menu, the food has to be authentic,” he says. “Yelp reviewers were saying, ‘This is not moussaka!’ And they were right.”

His heirloom tomato salad is a work
of art. Soon will come pickled butternut squash with winter greens, along with seasonal sides like exotic mushrooms. “We’re slowly executing at a higher level,” he says. Keenly aware of the power of presentation, Macomber has also ordered new plateware from Jered’s Pottery in the East Bay, made just for Dio Deka, in brown and Mediterranean blue hues. It’s meant
to break up the sameness of white plates because, he notes, “people eat with their eyes too.” But he’ll never lose sight of the importance of what’s on the plate as he reaches for that star.

Originally published in the December issue of Silicon Valley

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