Cooks at Home: Josh & Michelle Wynne
Join the Wynnes for a meal and it’s abundantly clear that this family lives for the home-cooked menu.
For his “sky is the limit” birthday meal, Dylan, 14, requested a reproduction of his dad’s creation: the Leftovers Burger aka The Kitchen Sink Burger aka The Trash Can Burger. Josh Wynne started with a grilled venison burger, then topped it with sharp cheddar, leftover homemade taters au gratin, leftover slow-hickory-smoked pork spare ribs, week-old caramelized fajita onions, and his wife, Michelle’s Dill Pickles, on a toasted potato roll finished with homemade ranch dressing. Jenna, 11, is partial to anything involving duck or lobster, such as lobster BLTs on croissants, topped with chipotle aioli.
Eldest son Brandon, who currently attends Florida State University, will no doubt be lured back to the family table on Siesta Key on many occasions with promises of delectable homemade favorites.
The Wynnes estimate 90% of their family meals are cooked at home; they eat restaurant fare only when their busy family schedules don’t allow otherwise (or when Josh and Michelle want a parents’ night out at one of their favorite restaurants). The majority of the week, Michelle is in charge of meal planning and execution. Whether baking fresh sandwich bread or making award-winning chili, she plans her meals to the nth degree, drawing inspiration and pulling recipes from food blogs and Pinterest.
“I like to chop it all up, measure it out and have everything done and make it look like the cover of Bon Appétit,” she says.
But when Josh is in charge, anything in the fridge is fair game. He goes about his meal creation with a laid back yet efficient use-what-we’ve-got-no-recipe-needed technique.
“It’s a little of this, a lot of this, taste this, try this, shake it up however,” he explains.
But the true magic happens when the Wynnes cook together.
“There’s a great synergy, we cook together well. There is really no bickering when it comes to cooking. It’s fun,” says Josh.
Whether they are armed with a few cheap pans and utensils, preparing fresh-caught lobster while on vacation in the Keys, or equipped with their favorite tools and appliances (such as Lodge cast-iron pans and the Green Egg grill), making braised venison barbacoa tacos with roasted garlic and chipotles, roasted tomatillo salsa, and ranchero and lime crema, they play to each other’s culinary strengths. Josh calls Michelle an amazing sous-chef, while Michelle says Josh’s forte is meat and seafood. The kids are the taste testers and cleanup crew.
But the most notable quality about the Wynnes’ cooking is their zeal for the ingredients. Maintaining a keen focus on these items, they call their home cuisine “ingredient-centric.”
“Growing up, my dad was a great cook and still is a good cook,” says Josh. “He always told me that the most important part of any meal is the quality of the ingredients.”
The Wynnes use local and organic ingredients whenever possible (and wherever they are), which means you can find Michelle trading fresh baked goods for local eggs, and Josh bow fishing off the dock of their Siesta home for the Sheepshead for fish tacos. Dylan hunted the venison in tonight’s chilli, and Michelle procured and canned the locally grown tomatoes. Also in the pot: homemade broth and Josh’s home-brewed beer.
Michelle only uses King Arthur flour and yeast in her baked goods and she also renders her own lard. And, in addition to the above, the Wynnes make and can relish, jams, pickles, chicken, and apple butter.
“If you take quality ingredients and you prepare them well,” says Josh, “you’ll have a fantastic meal.”