Tyco Huska, originally from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, first stepped foot in Sayulita in May of 2015 for a 2-week vacation. He immediately fell in love with the town and extended his stay. Originally intending to move to Nicaragua to open a little restaurant, his plans changed when he found a restaurant location in Sayulita that screamed potential. Soon after, Tyco, and his brother, Roman, co-opened Su Casa… a place where smiles are free and hugs are mandatory.
So, first off, how did your passion for cooking develop?
My grandparents used to own bakeries and bistros in Canada. From an early age, I remember being in the bakery making donuts. We’re Ukrainian and the dynamic is very similar to the Italians – the kitchen is a happy place, a place where families gather for good times and smiles. I was taught to work with my hands and to make everything from scratch. I felt at home in the kitchen and the energy of the kitchen as a gathering space inspired me.
How did you get your start as a chef?
My parents gave me the option to do whatever I wanted. They had a refrigeration business, a very lucrative business. So, I was given the option to take over the family business or go to the best chef school I could find. I chose the refrigeration business and then I realized it wasn’t for me, and I knew I wanted to open a restaurant instead. I opened up a tiny little bistro in a very small town in Northern BC.
What made you want to cook professionally in Sayulita?
I wanted to do what I love and build a life that I never have to take a vacation from. My happiest, most exciting moments are in the kitchen, and to be able to cook in paradise, is paradise. It’s epic. I don’t think that I chose Sayulita, I think Sayulita chose me. I think that I am put on this planet to cook, to add something, to compliment the town. I’m here for a purpose, and everything happens for a reason.
Are there any challenges to being a chef in Sayulita? What is harder and what is easier?
There are obviously some big challenges - an entrepreneur opening a business in a foreign land. The food, the suppliers, and being in Canada where beef and meat were common fresh ingredients. Here it’s fish – it’s adapting to a new atmosphere, which I love. The flavors and expectations are different because of the heat/humidity and how much people eat. It might be a challenge, but I welcome it and we overcome it all.
How would you describe your culinary style?
I would describe it as unique, fresh, globally inspired, and very artistic.
I call it true artistry, interjects Roman, Tyco’s brother.
What do you like about being the chef at Su Casa?
It’s a very inspiring place to work. We have amazing musicians that come through, great staff, and people inspire me to push the envelope with the food. Su Casa is an amusement park for your senses, not just a restaurant. That’s why it’s exciting to come to work everyday.
What are your favorite, fresh from Sayulita ingredients to use?
I’d say the biggest one of all is love. It’s the secret ingredient. It’s in every meal and every recipe. There’s so much trial and error and perfecting and passion going into the food. It’s food for the soul.
When creating a complete meal in Sayulita, what factors do you take into consideration?
I take the sweet and the savory, and I’m thinking about pairing it with a beverage. I’m thinking if I can smoke it in the smoker - from a chocolate cheesecake to a simple ham sandwich. I’m also thinking about spices and adding spice to compliment the dish.
Do you have a signature dish? If so, what is it and how would you describe it?
Yes, the smoked pork ribs. They’re rubbed with an in-house java rub (dark roast coffee), smoked for hours, infused with citrus as they are smoking, and then smothered with our in-house bitchin’ BBQ sauce.
Will you share your most entertaining “kitchen disaster” story?
I decided I was going to get into the sausage business and made a few hundred pounds of sausage, and then loaded up the smoker full of meat. It was my first time smoking sausage, and when I opened the door to check on it, fat was dripping down into the fire, and all the meat was in flames. There was nothing I could do. Hours and hours of work, all gone in a second. I got out of the sausage business after that.
What’s your favorite kitchen tool to use in Sayulita and why?
Well, my least favorite is propane. I had an oven explode on me once. But, my favorite is the smoker – the crafted meals and the things that come out of there are amazing. The variety of wood I use here is also exciting – cinnamon, mango, apple, mesquite, and hickory.
If you could recommend one other Sayulita restaurant other than yours, what would it be?
Aloha – they have awesome aguachile and the people who work there are great.
If you had to choose a last meal, what would it be?
Probably a rack of lamb, frog legs, and Alaskan king crab. And a ganja granola bar.