21 Questions with Dee Hernandez and Jules Van Bergen from Pressed for Time Paninis

In this edition of 21 questions, we interview Dee Hernandez and Jules Van Bergen – the co-owners and smiling faces behind Pressed for Time Paninis in beautiful downtown Guelph. Keep reading to learn more about this awesome duo.

Where were you born?

Dee: Guelph, Ontario

Jules: St. Catharines, Ontario

Where did you grow up?

Dee: Guelph, Ontario

Jules: Niagara on the Lake, Ontario

Your first job?

Dee: Picking grapes at Cox Creek Cellars with my younger brother.

Jules: My first job consisted of working in greenhouses in the mornings and scooping homemade ice cream in the afternoon and evenings at a family run operation hosting both businesses on the same property.

Biggest inspiration?

Dee: Good quality ingredients and my mom.

Jules: Visiting farmers markets in local and foreign cities. I’m always fascinated by the diverse produce and handmade artisanal products so proudly displayed by the proud merchants who sell them. It’s a true way to see cultural traditions for what they still have to offer. 

Top 3 ingredients in your pantry?

Dee: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, homemade chimichurri herb mix, any kind of onion – red, green, shallots

Jules: San Marzano tomatoes, my homemade spice blends and popcorn kernels — I’ve got to have a huge bowl of that crunchy goodness at least once a week.

What do you make for a lazy supper?

Dee: If I’m alone a quick Carbonara. With my family — we would bust out a plethora of cheese, crackers, breads, pickled veggies, some quince jam and of course, wine.

Jules: Most likely something involving eggs. Spaghetti carbonara using whatever I have on hand or a grilled cheese with a fried egg in the middle, dipped in our really really hot sauce. 

Favourite vacation spot?

Dee: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jules: The Mediterranean  

Favourite food city? 

Dee: Buenos Aires –You can find fantastic asado, fresh pasta and empanada shops and local produce – I have a soft spot because this is where my parents and family are from and we would visit every other year.

Jules:  Anywhere along the Amalfi Coast of Italy. They showcase an excellent use of regional ingredients, done simply, but oh so well. Fresh seafood, local cheeses, incredible tomatoes, the more obvious pizza and pastas, and not to mention their lemons. Like nothing else!

Favourite item on your menu?

Dee: One of our original babies – The Whiskey Blues Grilled Wrap Panini, I am so proud of this one. It consists of a slow braised balsamic brisket that we cook on low for 14 hours, deliciously sweet caramelized onions, soft and tangy blue cheese crumbles, and our homemade Whiskey Mustard – we soak a mix of yellow and brown seeds in whiskey for 48 hours and then blend with a few more ingredients to make a mustard that packs a punch but yet helps balance all the flavours in this Grilled Wrap Panini.

Whiskey Blues Grilled Wrap Panini

Jules: Our Opa Spanakopita grilled wrap panini – A beautiful balance of textures which is important to me. It’s the perfect blend of some of my favourite ingredients, beautifully rich, not overly briny sheep feta cheese, garlic sauteed spinach, slow-cooked, shredded chicken, a special blend of fresh herbs, crunchy green onions, freshly grated nutmeg and our homemade creamy Greek feta sauce. 

What’s the last [Netflix/Television] show you binged?

Dee: Street Food – still making my way through it, and the IT Crowd – because you can’t just binge watch one.

Jules: SALT FAT ACID HEAT – Samin Nosrat

Favourite Instagram account?

Dee: @elarroyo_atx – their dad joke/pun game is strong

Jules: @brad_leone from Bon Appétit 

Go-to lunch spot in the area?

Dee: Ooo that’s tough, depends what I am craving I love Indian, Middle Eastern, Pizza is always a classic… let’s go with frequency and say Tangy & Tasty Shawarma!

Jules: Owning a primarily breakfast and lunch based restaurant, I can’t remember the last time I went out for a daytime meal. But I used to frequent The Nguyens in Guelph. Hard question to answer in a constantly changing industry!

Favourite restaurant to celebrate a special occasion?

Dee: Toss up between Buon Gusto and Diwa Indian Cuisine

Jules: Bin 23 downtown Guelph, but if I can escape the city, El Catrin in Toronto’s Distillery District has yet to disappoint me.  

Best coffee in the area…

Dee: Capistrano

Jules: Smile Tiger in KW

Guelph’s best-kept secret?

Dee: Used to be Portuguese Marios and then sadly that shut down, luckily Na-Ha-Thai swooped in and stole my heart.  

Jules: The people! Also a little spot I know by the river where I forage fiddle heads in the Spring :).

What’s your favourite thing to do outside of work?

Dee: To unwind, I enjoy playing Ultimate Frisbee and I’m obsessed with board games. I also love spending time with the fam – my parents, siblings, brother-in-law, niece and nephew – we are a pretty wacky bunch and we know how to have fun.

Jules: Hiking and exploring new places near and far. Going home to Niagara for a rest. The water is my happy place. 

What food trend needs to go?

Dee: The Keto diet/any fad diet – not sure if that’s considered a food trend but I don’t like it! People need to eat what they want and what brings them joy (within moderation)!

Jules: Overly iced and overly priced cupcakes.

Name 3 guests at your ideal dinner party?

Dee: Jamie Oliver, Freddie Mercury and Wanda Sykes

Jules: Chef Lydia Bastianich, Author Michael Pollan, Niagara local Anna Olson.

3 things you’d tell a new chef?

Dee: Cook with ingredients you love, let your creativity sore, surround yourself with a solid support team.

Jules: Keep your station clean, be organized. No rush lasts forever –  take deep breaths. If you don’t have the passion for this industry, look for something else. 

What would be your mediocre superpower?

Dee: Falling asleep anywhere.

Jules: My memory.

Who should we interview next?

Dee: Jordan Holmes, Smile Tiger Coffee Roasters

Jules:  Katherine Sowden, Owner & Chef, Bella Roma Foods

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