City Chefs 2017

. October 1, 2017.
city-chefs-2017

Since last year’s dining guide, we’ve been chomping at the bit to talk more with Washtenaw County’s talented chefs. Now, local Chefs and Restaurateurs dish on their favorite dishes, wildest kitchen moments and origins of chefdom.

city-checfs---Adam-Galloway,-Vinology

Adam Galloway

Head Chef, Vinology

Where’s your go-to local grocery store when cooking at home?
Generally, I try to eat foods you’d be more likely to find at the farmer’s market than the grocery store. That said, Sparrow Market in Kerrytown is my go to grocery store. Their meat selection is second to none. Bob cuts meats himself and is an expert. I also know I can get unique items, like the ribeye cap. Plus, not only are the products at Sparrow great, I feel good being able to support a local business.

What are your favorite local ingredients to employ in dishes at your restaurant?
I look to Goetz Farms for fresh, local produce, and I let them tell me what should be my favorite item at any given time. They know what’s in season, what’s having a good season, and what I should be putting on plates at home, as well as at Vinology. Letting our vendors share their expertise is really an across-the-board thing for me: We source all the products that go into dishes and glasses at Vinology from the best of the best. I trust their expertise and guidance; if I didn’t see them as expert in their field, I’d be looking for new vendors.

Where do you go for a night out?
Given my heritage, I have a bit of a soft spot for Scottish and English cuisine. I also like farm-to-table restaurants that put the best food from each season on their menu and find unique ways to bring out those flavors. And, if we’re talking night out, I’d definitely stop in for the great beers at Jolly Pumpkin.

victoria-Carrow-Luckys-market

Victoria Charow

Culinary Manager
Lucky’s Market, Ann Arbor

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in a kitchen?
When opening a new kitchen it’s important to know where your sprinkler heads are. If you don’t, you can place an oven too close to a sprinkler head, and when the heat from the open oven door hits the sprinkler, you and everything around you gets covered in black water…#blackwaterincident2015

Where do you go for a night out?
How about brunch? See you at Sava’s at 10:30 am.

Aside from your home restaurant, which eatery is your favorite in Washtenaw county? What do you love about it?
Spencer. I love the ever-changing menu. It’s an exciting culinary adventure every time! And I’m sure they use some kinda magic in their vinaigrettes, because I have never had better.

What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
My grandma would make “Monster Cakes” with me. We would take anything I wanted out of the cupboard, mix it up, and then put it into the oven. We never ate it.

What metaphor would you use to describe your cuisine?
Lucky’s food is like an RV, all the comforts of home, but you can take it anywhere!

What would you choose as your last meal on Earth?
A pot luck with all my family and friends. I love good food, but a meal is made by the company you keep.

city-chefs-Kelly-Johnson--Evan's-street

Kelly Johnson

Executive Chef
Evans Street Station

What are your favorite local ingredients to employ in dishes at your restaurant?
My favorites change every week depending on what’s in season. In the spring it’s the first morels of the season, sunchokes, ramps, fiddlehead ferns, smelt, asparagus…and then in summer when everything blows up…tomatoes, squashes, berries, sweet corn, melons and everything else. Then fall, which is my favorite, comes and the wild game…rabbit, goose, venison, duck and about the same time the chanterelle mushrooms, currants, all the cool wintery squashes, apples, the hearty greens like kale and chard and when we move to winter we swap to heavier cooking methods with braised items like pork cheeks or lamb shanks, short ribs and heavier starches like celery root puree, gratins. Any and all these are local and all are my favorites at different times throughout the year.

What country or environs do you find yourself turning to for inspiration?
I love SE Asian cuisine. The clean, crisp, bright flavors and the salt and sweet and heat are really crave-able.

What metaphor would you use to describe your cuisine?
“Neutron Star Food.” I strive for one tablespoon of carrot soup to have the flavor of a pickup truck of carrots.” I don’t do “subtle” very well with anything in my life.

Describe the moment you decided to become a chef…
I got into a fist fight with the lead singer of our band on stage at a club in Toledo (I played Bass). The promoter was skimming our door-sales, we were making little to no money and I was cooking anyway to pay to play. I decided to take the cooking seriously and signed up for culinary school the next week.

What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
My mother was a horrifying cook. I don’t remember the age but it was tomato soup as a survival tactic.

What would you choose as your last meal on earth?
Anything with oysters, foie gras, sea urchins and a vat of whiskey.

travis-cafe-ollie-chef

Travis Schuster

Chef, Ollie Food & Spirits

What country or environs do you find yourself turning to for inspiration?
Around here. What my family and friends eat; foods and cooking traditional to this region. I’ve lived most of my life in Washtenaw County, it’s home and I want to share that Midwest comfort with the food.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in a kitchen?
I saw a man get hit with a pizza from a good 20 yards away. It was beautiful.

Describe the moment you decided to become a chef…
I wanted to work with my hands and with food, turns out I enjoy cooking more than farming.

What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
Either competing with my dad to see who could doctor up jars of Ragu better, or microwaving saltine pizzas.

Aside from your home restaurant, what’s your favorite Washtenaw County eatery?
Yotsuba. I’ve had a lot of lovely meals there with my family. The staff is wonderful and the food is delicious. I’m particular to the kitsune soba and yakisoba.

What would you choose as your last meal on earth?
My mother’s chicken noodle soup. It would be a comfort.

city-chef---Raul-Cob-Ferrer--Aventura

Raul Cob Ferrer

Executive Chef, Aventura

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in a kitchen?
My first restaurant in Valencia, Spain, was specializing in wild fish and seafood. We used to buy wild fish not only from the markets, but also directly from sport fishermen. One day I bought a Mediterranean sea bass of about 10 pounds, big and beautiful, which was still alive and breathing. I put it in the refrigerator as usual, in a box and covered it with plastic to prevent the skin from drying out. The next day, about the same hour, 24 hours later, I proceeded to clean the fish, and to my surprise I realized that the fish was still alive and breathing, which was impossible!!!!! I am not a superstitious person, but that fish should be a kind of superhero and I killed him. 😉

What country or environs do you find yourself turning to for inspiration?
As a Spanish chef in a restaurant with Spanish cuisine, Spain is my inspiration. But I must admit I also love taking ideas from Japanese, Thai and International Mediterranean cuisine.

What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
Cooking Paella Valenciana with my family on Sundays with woodfire, in Valencia, Spain. There’s a very nice tradition in my country of getting the family on Sundays to cook and eat together.

What would you choose as your last meal on earth?
Iranian Beluga caviar, Spanish barnacles from the Cantabrian Sea, Spanish red shrimps and sea urchin roe from the Mediterranean sea, Japanese kobe meat and Iberico Bellota ham from Huelva with some 1997 Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé champagne bottles – a couple of pounds of each of these ingredients, would not be bad at all :).

haymaker-public-house

Woodrow Williams

Executive Chef, Haymaker Public House

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in a kitchen?
I had a situation where we unknowingly hired both a mother and her adult son in the kitchen. Without getting into too much detail, the son lasted maybe a week before he became aggressive and violent and eventually had to be physically removed by our GM. Not more than a week later, his mother began to complain daily and soon became verbally aggressive in much the same way. She too, had to be removed from the restaurant and it was weeks before she stopped calling at all hours of the night. I mention this story because it definitely goes beyond the “normal” crazy you may find in a restaurant.

Where do you go for a night out?
I love Ann Arbor because there are many quality restaurants in the area. Mani Osteria would definitely have to be at the top of my list. Chef Brendan is a very passionate and talented individual, and Chef Nick may be the hardest working man I know.

Describe the moment you decided to become a chef…
I never had an “ah ha!” moment in which I decided to become a chef. I grew up watching my father cook, and after becoming a line cook accidentally in 2009, I haven’t left the kitchen. I simply like to do what I do and do it well. Fortunately, my work ethic has allowed me the opportunity to be where I am today.

What would you choose as your last meal on earth?
My last meal on Earth would have to be what my father called “mop water soup,” essentially a black-eyed peas stew we would smother with two pieces of white bread. Simple and delicious, and also something I haven’t had since I was a child.

logan-restaurant

Thad Gillies

Chef/Owner, Logan Restaurant

What are your favorite local ingredients to employ in dishes at our restaurant?
Heirloom tomatoes, and we grow them ourselves on our organic farm.

Where do you go for a night out?
My favorite night out is cooking in my backyard. I hook up my smoker, slow cook some meat, grill some vegetables, drink a few beers and play catch with my dog.

What country or environs do you find yourself turning to for culinary inspiration?
Southeast Asia. I’ve always been attracted to taste and smells of countries like Thailand, Korea, China and Japan. The eastern approach to food is so different from the classic French techniques I’ve been trained with. You’ll see the influence all over my menu.

Describe the moment you decided to become a chef…
I cooked my way through college flipping burgers and always loved the restaurant business. Then when I got done with my business degree, I realized I could cook for a living and dedicated my life to the craft of cooking.

What is your earliest memory of cooking?
Making cookies with my grandmother. I still have the same cookie recipes at Logan to honor her memory.

Aside from your home restaurant, which eatery is your favorite in Washtenaw county?
Yee Siang dumplings, it’s the most authentic Chinese food in the county. Thinking about their chili and Szechuan peppercorn dipping sauce is making my mouth water.

andy-northside-grill

Andy Lawson

Kitchen Manager, Northside Grill

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in a kitchen?
When I worked at the Gandy Dancer, I passed out on the line and had to be rushed to the hospital because of toxic materials the roofers were using.

Where’s your go-to local grocery store when cooking at home?
Ypsilanti Food Co-op.

Where do you go for a night out?
Depot Town in Ypsi. I can walk there and back.

Describe the moment you decided to become a chef…
When I figured out I didn’t want to be a waiter anymore.

What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
Frying bologna in a pan as a toddler.

Aside from your home restaurant, which eatery is your favorite in Washtenaw county?
Jerusalem Garden – consistently great falafel.

city-chef-Heidi-Kelleer

Heidi Keller

Executive Chef
Guy Hollerin’s Ann Arbor Bar and Grill

What are your favorite local ingredients to employ in dishes at your restaurant?
We grow our own herbs, tomatoes and peppers on site during the summer.

Describe the moment you decided to become a chef…
Boredom is a killer for me. I came home from my first night working the line in tears. I knew I had found my challenge.

What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
Easy Bake Ovens! I got creative and used perfume instead of water in my cake mix! It was terrible. It turns out, you can ruin chocolate cake.

Aside from your home restaurant, what’s your favorite eatery in Washtenaw County?
Right now, Mikette is my favorite. Cocktails are innovative, cuisine is French comfort food, bartender feels like family. I am happy every time I go.

What would you choose as your last meal on earth?
Anything shared with friends and family…and a bit of chocolate.

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