Upon opening his flagship restaurant, La Fia Bistro, on an emerging block of the downtown Wilmington revitalization footprint in the spring of 2013, Chef Bryan Sikora attracted plenty of attention. Suddenly, Wilmington became a destination for Sikora’s foodie fans from Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and many suburbs in between. The James Beard Foundation took note and Sikora proceeded to the semi-finals of the 2014 Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic race.
Now approaching its five-year anniversary, La Fia is one of four sister restaurants: Cocina Lolo, just two blocks east on King Street, Merchant Bar, directly across Market Street, and Hearth Kitchen, a quick drive west into Kennett Square.
The busy Chef Sikora took some time to catch us up on what his creative life looks like in 2018.
Town Square Delaware: You are known for changing your menus frequently, with the seasons, and often in between. What ingredients are you most looking forward to using in the coming months?
Chef Bryan Sikora: The wild botanicals are great and will be out in a few weeks. Ramps, yellow mustard, lots of different cress, rhubarb, wild asparagus, garlic scapes.
TSD: Your paintings appear on the walls of La Fia, and you post on social media photos of paintings when you’re working on them. What is the relationship between your culinary art and your fine art? Do you see them intermingling again, like on the walls of La Fia, in the future?
Sikora: The paintings at La Fia above the bar—I worked on those out of need for décor and pre-opening therapy. It just seemed necessary to do something creative to make an impact on the space. Since then, I have been painting a lot of different subjects. There isn’t any correlation between my paintings and cooking, very different processes. Painting is therapeutic. I have several new paintings on the walls in Hearth and plan to do more.
TSD: What was your first job ever?
Sikora: First job was in The Half Shell Restaurant in Ligonier in 1985 as a dishwasher. And I was the dishwasher, not a machine.
TSD: What do you cook or eat when you have a day with your family?
Sikora: We like to cook outside on our grill, but right now our kids are picky eaters and don’t really eat much outside of what most kids eat.
TSD: You have children. Do any of them seem to be bitten with the cooking bug, and what would you tell them if any of them set their minds on being a chef?
Sikora: They like to make things in the kitchen, but they don’t actually enjoy eating anything. No one wants to be a chef.
Sikora humored us by answering our bonus question.
TSD: It’s your last day on earth. What does your final meal consist of?
Sikora: A burger at the end of an all-day bike ride.