After 20 years as a dental hygienist, Maria Walusis decided it was time for a career change. So she began to apprentice with accomplished chefs from L’Auberge and Cumin in Cincinnati, restaurants that have since closed. She launched her catering business about 6 years ago and then in Jan of 2015 she opened the intimate 800 square feet fine dining eatery Nibbles at 105 S. Second Street, which is the former Hamilton Hotel building in historic downtown Miamisburg. Seating just over 30 guests inside, patio seating doubles the occupancy when weather permits.
Chef Maria shares that she customizes her menus “each season so you can have a unique food experience and not the same old thing you see all the time.” With the start of summer, she introduces her 11th menu starting with a shrimp roll, fried green tomatoes and lobster hush puppies. Entrees include her amazing chile relleno, jerk chicken or a tomahawk pork chop. See the full menu here.
Chef Maria agreed to take a break from cooking long enough to answer our 10 ?’s interview:
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with? Hard to pick just one! I love all seafood and there is always a variety of seafood items on our menus! The current menu has lobster hush puppies! I am already craving some.
What ingredient do you dread?
Artichokes are a pain in the butt. They are prickly, and quickly turn a yucky shade of gray. I love to eat them but hesitate to work with them.
What’s your favorite dish to make?
I have a thing for braised meat of any kind. It’s some comforting and homey and smell amazing when cooking and just falls apart with a fork.
What’s your favorite pig out food?
Definitely pizza! Pizza is amazing and when you want something late at night it’s the way to go!
What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley? There are so many great places and great chefs here in Dayton! I like to support all the chefs as much as I can. Favs are Rue Dumaine, Meadowlark, Wheat Penny and Salar! Very excited about some of the new places coming to Dayton soon like Basils!
What’s your best advice for home chefs? Cook! Cook! Cook! Read cookbooks and study and just cook. Try new things and have fun creating.
If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
I would invite all the local chefs who could get away from their restaurants! We all work so hard and its difficult to actually get together for any sort of social time, so to be able to get us all together and cook some great food and kick back together would be awesome, and spoil them a little bit with some great food.
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
I have had some mentors who have encouraged me along the way to becoming a chef and are a source of support, and answers to my sometimes silly questions. Chef Anne from RueDumaine has taught me a lot along with Chef Michael from Michael Anthony’s at the Inn in Versailles. Two amazing chefs with different styles and strengths who have both influenced my cooking and how I run my restaurant.
What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off? Well, since I haven’t had a “day off” in weeks I’m not sure! We go out to dinner/drinks when we can to enjoy someone else cooking for us! WE enjoy spending time with family and friends, our daughters and parents.
Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or an interesting story:
I was running a private party for another chef as a favor, a private party in a home. As I was trying to get the filet cooked to temp it was taking forever and I finally realized the oven wasn’t working. I opened the door to the pro-viking range and the entire door literally fell off the oven into my arms! I was completely horrified and had to figure out how to finish cooking steaks for 60 guests with no oven!!