Luis Bruno | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Luis Bruno

If you believe that life can come full circle, you might also buy that some people's lives have more than one circle. Circle No.1 for 34-year-old Luis Bruno started when he was 13 in Tivoli, N.Y.—upstate about 20 miles from Hyde Park where his family had moved from his native Bronx—at his brother's business called Bruno's. "It was a produce, meat ... seafood market, dairy … deli … [and] a pizzeria later on, from there we had a family restaurant," he says. Bruno decided that attending culinary school was the next logical step for him. He packed up and moved to Clearwater, Fla., where he attended Pinellas Technical Education Center for two years. There he met his wife, Kathleen, a native of Mississippi, while in school. "We graduated top in our class," Bruno states with a soft glow in his brown eyes. After graduation and getting married in 1995, the Brunos moved to Jackson to be near her family.

Here Bruno worked as chef, supervisor, manager, and executive chef at different establishments. Then a dream came true in February 2001. Bruno's Eclectic Cuisine, in the Quarter on Lakeland Drive, became known for its delicious food and sophisticated atmosphere. Unfortunately Bruno's closed at the end of 2003—family and health priorities made this difficult, emotional decision a must. Bruno says, "I feel like I've retired from playing football for 30 years. People have even called me at home." His employees gave him the most outstanding support: "I made 18 phone calls and told them. I was crying at the same time." Many were there within the hour to help pack up the restaurant. Bruno's had come full circle.

His second circle was waiting, though. One of those establishments where Bruno had worked as executive chef was the Governor's Mansion where he fed the Kirk Fordice family for three-and-a-half years. Now, beginning with the inauguration of Haley Barbour, Bruno again takes over as executive chef. We talk there in the kitchen where the only big change will be a new floor. He'll cook using the pots and pans already there. Of course, he'll bring his knives and essential utensils with him—two boxes—"I've got years-ful of knives," Bruno, who favors Wusthoff cutlery, tells me as we talk in the quiet kitchen. Bruno said about his return to the executive mansion, "This is vacation for me, after the restaurant."

His 4-year-old daughter Emma appears happy to go on this vacation with him. "She is attached on me like Velcro," he says.

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