Chef's Spotlight: Adam Kucenic, Chef/Owner of Muddy Waters Oyster Bar
Born and raised in Greensburg, PA, Adam Kucenic started cooking at the age of 16 at Mr. P’s restaurant and lounge. Local legend Jack Perkins took a liking to the young man and took him under his wing, mentoring Kucenic throughout high school and college. By the age of 18, Kucenic was running the kitchen at Mr. P’s. Kucenic went to Indiana University of Pennsylvania on a football scholarship, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in sports administration and business. Kucenic moved to Florida in 2004 to pursue a job in sports administration, but, instead, he was pulled back to the kitchen – this time at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion. Mentored by Roy Yamaguchi and many other talented chefs for 5 years in Tampa, Kucenic rekindled his love of the restaurant business. He returned to his hometown in 2010 to become the executive chef of the Pepperwood Grille, where he helped to rebuild the failing restaurant into a success. After stays in Paris at Violon de Ingres under chef Christopher Constant and in Moscow at Delicatessen under chef Ivan Shishkin, Kucenic decided it was time to return home and open his own place in Pittsburgh.
He and his girlfriend, Diana Strekalovskaya, came up with the concept for Muddy Water Oyster Bar, a Cajun and Creole-themed restaurant which they opened together in December of 2015. The concept, which includes an East Coast/West Coast oyster raw bar and a large selection of champagne and New Orleans-inspired cocktails, has been well received in Pittsburgh. Customers frequently call out the fried green tomatoes, gator bites, cheesy grits, gumbo and po' boys.
Where are you from originally?
When did you start cooking?
When I was 16.
Who was your mentor?
Jack Perkins, from Mr. P's restaurant in Greensburg.
What are you known for?
Large varieties of fresh oysters and Cajun-inspired cuisine.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Working for myself and having full control and freedom with what we do.
What is your favorite fish to work with? Why?
Orange Marlin because there are so many things you can do with them. They're very versatile. It's fun to work with.
What do you do for fun? Share a day off with us.
I love spending time with my girlfriend and my daughter. Any family time is good!
Why do you work with Land & Sea?
They have fresh, quality products and they are reliable.
Three things always in your refrigerator/pantry at home?
Olive oil, hot sauce, eggs... We don't eat at home much!
Favorite book/movie/TV show?
Outliers, Training Day, The Wire
How do you want to be remembered?
Good father. Good husband. Good man.
What is your favorite/signature dish?
Shrimp and grits / Seafood gumbo
Any ingredients you won’t work with?
Favorite part of working in the Pittsburgh area?
I love the East Liberty neighborhood. Big Steelers fan.
If you could cook for anybody in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Bob Marley because I think he is a pretty interesting guy.