At the young age of 24, Luke Decker’s brother convinced him to leave an eight-year career in retail to come work for him at Bella Brava in St. Petersburg, FL. He’s been in love with cooking ever since and immediately knew it would be so much more than, “just a job.”
Luke spent three years learning under Chef Mario Maggi and his brother Chef Anthony Decker, who currently works as Chef de Cuisine at Felidia in New York City. Luke then found himself training under Executive Chef Jason Cline at The Birchwood when it opened in 2013. For the next four years, he honed his skills working his way from Grill Cook, to Sous Chef, and then finally to Chef de Cuisine. When Chef Jason announced he would be leaving the Birchwood it was only natural that Chef Luke took his place. Chef Luke jokes that he was, “a late bloomer,” but his work ethic, technical skills, drive and desire to be great at what he does while delivering memorable meals make him the perfect choice for Executive Chef at The Birchwood.
Chef Luke’s brother remains on his “Most Admired” list and admits had he not convinced him to move to Florida and train under him, he would not be where he is today. He also feels it is important to read up on trends and not be afraid to create and experiment as much as possible. Chef Luke firmly believes that all staff should be thoroughly trained on ingredients and techniques used to prepare dishes in order to help ensure guests have an understanding of their options to ensure the best possible experience.
At home, Chef Luke loves to cook steak or shrimp on the grill, but at work, his love is preparing fish and using ingredients from local producers and suppliers to create uniquely fresh, healthy and tasty dishes. He also loves using port and sherry wine in the dishes he creates. Chef Luke stresses to home enthusiasts to, “not be afraid of salt,” and above all, “a good chef’s knife is essential for preparing any meal.”
Chef Luke currently lives in Florida with his wife and two sons, Sean, and Michael. Outside of work, he enjoys sporting events and spending time with his family.