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Kitchen Confidential with Brian Dumoulin

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

When Brian Dumoulin and his wife Kayla got married in the summer of 2018, a friend of the couple also got married, in Barcelona.

And while they were in Spain for the wedding, Dumoulin got the opportunity to go to his friend's wife's mother's house and see her grandmother cook a paella, right in the heart of Barcelona. To see her make the country's traditional seafood dish was heaven for a foodie like Dumoulin.

"It's a lot different than the way I make it, but it was even more delicious than how I made it," Dumoulin said. "She didn't speak a lick of English, so I was just pretty much standing there watching her not saying anything (laughs). It was a really, really cool experience and something I'll never forget."

Homemade paella is one of the dishes that Dumoulin has cooked up during the NHL pause, posting a photo of the finished product to his Instagram account @du24theboyz with the caption: "Still not as good as a Barcelona paella but working on the craft. Forgot to grab the chorizo. Won't happen again."

Instagram from @du24theboyz: Still not as good as a Barcelona paella but working on the craft. Forgot to grab the chorizo. Won't happen again #LosLoros

While Dumoulin may not have been completely satisfied with his creation, it certainly looked delicious - to the point where his former teammate Ian Cole and his wife Jordan were inspired to try making one themselves.

"His wife actually texted my wife and I gave him one of the recipes I kind of followed," Dumoulin said.

Because of Dumoulin's love for seafood - his first job was washing dishes at a restaurant called Huot's Seafood in his home state of Maine - paella is something he makes a lot. Other go-to recipes include spaghetti (he makes the pasta himself), broiled steak, soy-glazed sea bass and duck. 

But with Dumoulin being at home so much lately between the NHL pause and the ankle injury that kept him out for three months, he's had time to experiment and try other recipes. One that he made recently was sushi.

"The best thing about sushi is that if it doesn't work out, you can always make poké bowls," he said. "That's always a backup. The first time I tried to make sushi, it didn't turn out that great. But this time, it was a lot, lot better. I think the hardest part about making sushi is getting the rice right and making sure it's a good consistency and stickiness, but also firmness. It's pretty difficult."

Instagram from @du24theboyz: Home made sushi @kayla_dumoulin

Dumoulin's parents Deb and Pete both grew up in northern Maine, with their families living just across a bridge from each other. On Thanksgiving, they would go to his mom's side for lunch and his dad's side for dinner, and it was Brian's maternal grandparents that helped spark his love for cooking.

"That side of my family, they're big hunters so they'd always bring some special stuff," Dumoulin said. "They loved doing all the stuff and they'd prepare for what seemed like weeks. I think I was just always enjoying the food and I wanted to be able to cook like that. That's where I got it from."

And after Dumoulin left home to attend Boston College, it was Anthony Bourdain who inspired him to really get serious about cooking. Dumoulin has consumed most of the TV shows and books the celebrity chef and author put out into the world before he passed away in 2018.

"I feel like I've watched every episode of No Reservations and The Layover, pretty much everything that he's put his hands on," Dumoulin said. "I've read some of his books. That was an influential guy in my culinary and my cooking and just how much I love wine, too. He played a big part in that. He was the master; he was the best."

When Dumoulin was in college and then in his first years as a pro, he would cook for his roommates: Beau Bennett in Pittsburgh and Pat Mullane and Parker Milner in Boston. Now, he loves the opportunity to cook for Kayla, both in Pittsburgh and Boston, where they live during the offseason.

"She enjoys good food, too, so it's been really fun cooking for her," Dumoulin said. "She's not afraid to tell me if it needs work or needs to be better, so that's all you can ask for (laughs). I try to always ask Kayla what she's craving or if she's seen anything that she likes or from us going out to restaurants, trying to get inspiration of stuff I can cook at home, stuff like that. So, it's been fun."

And at some point in the future, he'll be cooking for their six-month-old son Brayden, who recently started graduating to more solid foods.

"He loves clementines," Dumoulin said. "That's his favorite thing right now. He's also starting to eat oatmeal, which has been pretty cool. That's the first thing that he's been able to swallow. It's not exactly a solid food but it's definitely more dense than just his formula and his milk. That's been pretty fun seeing him develop those habits and those basic skills of survival, like eating and swallowing and stuff."

While Dumoulin has his go-to recipes as mentioned above, before the pause he would also look for inspiration in trips to the grocery store. There are a few staple items always on his list: water, eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, proteins (which usually includes a fish, depending on how they look) and cilantro (which he uses for his homemade dressing). 

"I make it with plain cashew yogurt, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, avocado, some water," Dumoulin said. "I make that a lot, it's really delicious. I always get stuff for that."

But other than that, Dumoulin liked to just walk around Whole Foods and see what they had. Or, when he was at home in Boston, he would walk around the Boston Public Market.

"In Boston, that's when I really love cooking because of all the fresh seafood," Dumoulin said. "So that's where I cook a lot of my seafood, mussels, lobster and different seafood dishes. It's nice that we can just walk to the Boston Public Market from where we live. Definitely the ingredients there are very fresh."

While not everyone may enjoy cooking as much as Dumoulin, right now many people are being forced to spend a lot more time in the kitchen than they're accustomed to. His best advice for those people is to stick to the recipe as much as possible.

"My biggest thing is that anyone can cook, you've just got to follow the directions," he said. "You've just got to take it step by step, read them. A lot of people want to jump the gun or get right to it or say it takes too much time. But you can cook anything if you just follow the instructions. That's what I like doing, I like to take my time with it."

Another big thing for Dumoulin is just utilizing the oven as much as possible. He doesn't rely on any fancy gizmos or gadgets. 

"I use the oven for pretty much everything," he said. "I don't ever use the microwave. I'll warm up everything through the oven. I use the stovetop a lot, too."

That all being said, even Dumoulin is looking forward to the chance to eat out at restaurants in the future. When asked which one is at the top of the list?

"All of them," he said with a laugh. "I love going to all different restaurants, especially in Pittsburgh. They have a good food scene that's coming on. I like trying out every different type of cuisine. I look forward to just going, sitting outside, relaxing and eating some food that's not cooked by me."

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