Meet the chefs: Dave Laferriere-Hall and Dustin Simmons of Coriander

The two chefs at Coriander don’t have a lot in common. Dave Laferriere-Hall, who served in the Marines from 1999-2003, likes seafood; Dustin Simmons, who traveled New Zealand after graduating high school, likes beef. Laferriere-Hall drinks wine, Simmons prefers beer; Laferriere-Hall geeks out over cheese, Simmons couldn’t care less. So what does this odd-couple have that’s made their 12-week-old restaurant in Middlebury a success?
“When you find someone who is really smart in this industry it’s refreshing,” said Laferriere-Hall, a 36-year-old chef who’s been working in kitchens in the area for well over 10 years.
“Yeah, and when you work for someone else, everything starts tasting the same, smelling the same and you don’t want to eat it anymore,” added Simmons, 32, who’s also worked in local kitchens for the past decade.
The two met while both working at Fire & Ice in Middlebury, and decided to make a go of their own restaurant.
Coriander serves fresh-fusion food for lunch and dinner seven days a week. It focuses on quality and typically uses five ingredients or fewer in each dish.
“We like to keep it simple, fresh and local,” said Laferriere-Hall. “All we do is put flavors together we think work well. It’s pretty basic.”
Both Laferriere-Hall and Simmons create the menu items and prepare all the food every day. There’s not a clear division of labor in the kitchen, it just kinda works out.
By working in close quarters and watching what the other does every day, Laferriere-Hall and Simmons have divided tasks and quickly learned how to keep up with the rush of mealtime. “It just happened naturally,” said Laferriere-Hall.
It helps too, that neither chef has a lazy bone in his body.
“If you’ve got time to lean you’ve got time to clean,” Simmons said. A motto they both take seriously. You would too if you faced the prep work, special orders, unexpected deliveries, space challenges and pile of dishes these guys do every day. Oh, and don’t forget cleaning the grease trap. “That’s definitely the worst part,” the two chefs agreed — finally something they have in common.
“Why do I like being here in the back every day, in a 110 degree kitchen with no window?” Simmons asked rhetorically. “I don’t know… I guess the best part is when people leave happy. It’s very rewarding.”
So, head on over to Coriander (on the corner of Washington Street and Court Square) to be impressed and inspired by Laferriere-Hall’s and Simmons’ cooking. Their new fall menu is coming soon.

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