City Chefs

. December 1, 2019.

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Washtenaw County’s best ingredient

High heat, sharp objects, open flames, and picky customers. A chef’s life ain’t easy— but it is inventive and demanding. Meet the Washtenaw County chefs who live for the thrill that’s only offered up by a fast-paced, bold and creative kitchen. Full of local love and fresh ingredients, these city chefs have your plate covered— from farm to table.

Jesse King, Culinary Specialist

Photo Courtesy of Lucky’s Market.

Lucky’s Market
1919 S. Industrial Hwy.
734-368-9137.
luckysmarket.com
8am-10pm, daily

What would your last meal be? Beef spare ribs and roasted potatoes with bone marrow sauce 

How have you seen your industry change? The food industry has become a kinder and gentler environment. ​ 

What kitchen lesson do you wish you had learned sooner? Humility and cooperation go a long way, big egos get in the way. 

Who has taught you the most about being a chef? Chef Erik Goldstrom took me under his wing early in my career. 

Favorite pot, pan, or kitchen tool? Tongs and towels (my security blankie). 

What are some of the most interesting current industry trends? The ​Slow Food Movement, the Fair Kitchen Initiative, and farm-to-table. 

Is there a chef you admire the most? Chef Doug at Chartreuse
Detroit. He helped me out as a young chef and is extremely talented.   

Does it bother you when customers ask for a lot of substitutions or changes? No, I’m here to make people happy. I enjoy giving people what they want.  

Thoughts on celebrity chefs? My grandma might read this, ​I probably should keep that to myself.

What’s one dish every beginner should master? The perfect omelet. 

Chef Matteo Melosi

Hilary Nichols Photography

Westside BBQ
108 E. Madison St., Ann Arbor.
734-585-0806 | westsidebarbecue.com

How would you describe your style of cooking? Have fun, be patient, and believe in the process.

Where do you find inspiration? There have been so many celebrations that we have been a part of at Westside: weddings, graduations, birthdays, block parties, and goodbyes. When you have had the opportunity as a team to prepare someone’s “last meal” at the hospital, what an honor and inspirational moment.

Favorite local place to source ingredients? Definitely Argus Farm Stop.

What would your last meal be? Easy… Ida’s fried chicken and chocolate chip cookies!

What’s your go-to meal to make at home? Aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, oil, red pepper flakes). It doesn’t get any better than this classic Italian dish.

Thoughts on celebrity chefs? I don’t have any. The roots of barbecue have been totally ignored by the celebrity industry.

What’s one dish every beginner should master? A fried egg.

Chef Brandon Johns

Hilary Nichols Photography

Grange Kitchen & Bar
118 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor | 734-995-2107
grangekitchenandbar.com
5-10pm, Monday-Thursday (bar open until 11pm).
5-11pm, Friday & Saturday (bar open until 1am). 10am-3pm, Sunday.

What’s the story behind one of your favorite menu items? Our Fried Pig’s Head, which has been on-and-off our menu for all of the ten years we’ve been open. We do a lot of whole animal butchery at Grange, so we come up with creative ways to use the “other” parts. This dish was created out of that necessity.

How would you describe your style of cooking? Straightforward and clear. With occasional unusual combinations. I like to let the exceptional ingredients we use at Grange shine.

Favorite local place to source ingredients? After 10+ years of sourcing almost exclusively local ingredients we have a long list of favorites. We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without Tantre Farm, especially in the early days. And they still provide us with a ton of produce. Larry Doll from Old Brick Farm in Chelsea has been providing Grange with the best ducks around. Detroit Mushroom Company is hitting is out of the park as well.

Chef Christian Hang

Photo Credit: Dan Blakeney

The Ravens Club
207 S. Main St., Ann Arbor.
734-214-0400 | theravensclub.com
Bar hours: 4pm-1am, Monday-Wednesday. 4pm-2am, Thursday-Friday. 5pm-2am, Saturday. 5pm-1am, Sunday.
Kitchen hours: 4pm-midnight, Monday-Saturday.
5pm-midnight, Saturday. 5-11pm, Sunday.
Happy Hour: 4-6pm, Monday-Friday & 9pm-close, Thursday.

How would you describe your style of cooking? French and Asian.

Where do you find inspiration? Watching the TV show Iron Chef.

What ingredients are you most excited about right now? Indian curry.

What would your last meal be? King crab legs.

What’s your go-to meal to make at home? Ramen noodles.

What did you have for dinner last night? Homemade soup.

Favorite pot, pan, or kitchen tool? Tweezers!

What are some of the most interesting current industry trends? Gastronomy and hyper-local foods.

Is there a chef you admire the most? Eric Ripert, who is known for his work with seafood.

Executive Chef Allie Lyttle

Hilary Nichols Photography

The Standard Bistro & Larder
5827 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor
734-263-2543 | thestandardbistro.com

11am-9pm, Monday-Thursday. 11am-10pm, Friday. 9am-10pm, Saturday. 9am-9pm, Sunday.

How would you describe your style of cooking? Fresh and funky.

Where do you find inspiration? I strongly feel that being a chef is a continual learning process. I go out to eat to stimulate new dish ideas. I own more cookbooks than a healthy human (or chef) probably should. I think about food 75 percent of my day. Inspiration comes while driving in the car, or rocking my daughter to sleep. Usually whenever it’s quiet and calm or full-blown chaos is where I find my best ideas.

What ingredients are you most excited about right now? Winter is coming, so I am amped for cranberries, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, squash (ALL OF THE SQUASH), apples, carrots, greens…. so many things.

Favorite local place to source ingredients? Cherry Capital Foods is incredible, but I try to buy from as many small local farms as possible. I particularly adore Champion Farms, Gifted Grass, Feral Daughters Farm, Tantre Farms, Handsome Farms, White Lotus Farms… I could keep going. We’re so lucky to have so many amazing farmers in Michigan.

What would your last meal be? I feel like this could change at any moment, but my answer today is seared halloumi cheese, good a$$ bread, olives and bourbon.

What’s your go-to meal to make at home? Walking Tacos.

What did you have for dinner last night? Roasted veggies, quinoa and hummus. You caught me on a good night— usually, it’s cheese and Lacroix.

Chef Ji Hye Kim

Hilary Nichols Photography

Miss Kim Korean Restaurant
A proud part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses
415 N. 5th Ave.
734-275-0099 | misskimannarbor.com
11am-2:30pm & 5-9:30pm, Tuesday-Sunday.

How would you describe your style of cooking? I’d say my cooking is simple and I really look for balance in flavor and texture, and joy in deliciousness. I spend many hours researching into Korean cuisine, whether it is into centuries-old historic cookbooks or bugging my mom for stories, looking into regional or Buddhist cuisine, or how Korean food tradition evolves and mutates outside of Korea. I work hard to understand the story behind each dish and its makers and consumers. Having a better understanding of the food and the people helps to fend off that guilty feeling that I’m messing with tradition! Additionally, I get very inspired by working with great ingredients, most of the local produce and meat in Michigan communities closest to Ann Arbor.

Favorite local place to source ingredients? Miss Kim is a stone’s throw away from the Kerrytown Farmers Market, and it is my favorite place to get local ingredients. We have a seasonally changing menu, so walking around the market and seeing what’s available right now is essential to what we do, and local farmer and producer community is a huge inspiration. I love chatting with my favorite farmers (Goetz Farm, Prochaska Farm, Ann Arbor Seed Company, too many to list!) to see what’s coming up. “Will the asparagus season will start later than last year and how much longer can I get them?” “When will the foraged mushrooms be available?” “It’s a bummer that the peaches and plums are not doing well this year.” “Do you want to collaborate on a vegetarian feast together?” To me, a bouquet of gold and candy cane beets or french breakfast radish is more joyful and beautiful than flowers, though there are a lot of that there too!

If I miss a market day, then my next go-to place for local ingredients is Argus Farm Stop. I discover smaller farmers that may not come to the Kerrytown Farmers Market or more delicate items that need indoor environment, and that’s always fun. Kathy Sample does an amazing job working with farmers and making local food more.

Louis Goral, Executive Chef and General Manager

Photo Credit Andrew Potter Photography

Blue LLama Jazz Club
314 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
734-372-3200 | bluellamaclub.com
5-11pm, Wednesday & Thursday. 5pm-1:30am, Friday & Saturday (featuring a special late-night menu to accompany the new late-night shows). 11am-3pm, Sunday.

Tell us the story behind one of your favorite menu items. Our Foie Gras PB&J was a lot of fun and took about one year to perfect. As we were doing research for this project, I learned that Billie Holiday’s favorite food was a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We decided to create our version of this dish using foie gras mousse, Michigan strawberry jam and Marcona almonds stuffed inside a fried sphere called pani puri, which is an Indian snack that is similar to a crispy round hollow crepe! We tried various versions of bread and dough to perfect this and the pani puri is definitely the best!

How would you describe your style of cooking? I’m from Iowa originally, so I’m very much a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Through my travels and working in some fantastic restaurants in large markets, I developed a refinement of my technique and style. At Blue LLama we use the phrase “relaxed refinement” a lot to describe what we do. We feel that we are high end but approachable and we present a fine dining experience in a laid back and comfortable environment.

Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration in a lot of places! Mainly I love being inspired by the talents of my amazing team. I have an awesome group of hospitality professionals who inspire me with their ideas and creativity. We really work together as a team to conceptualize not only new menu items and specials but ideologies in running a great hospitality business. Above all else, my team inspires me to improve the guest, team and artist experience every day.

What ingredients are you most excited about right now? I love local and fresh ingredients. I am at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market two times a week because we partner directly with White Lotus Farms. I love to walk through the market and pick up fresh seasonal ingredients for our menu. We are really excited about Michigan’s green beans. We are triple frying them and pairing them with anchovy lyonnaise and pickled ginger. 

Chef Thad Gillies

Hilary Nichols Photography

Logan & Chow Restaurants

Logan Restaurant
115 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor.
734-327-2312 | logan-restaurant.com
5-10pm, Tuesday-Saturday.

Chow Asian Street Food Restaurant
208 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor.
734-369-6942 | chowannarbor.com
11am-10pm, daily.

How did you get your start? I’ve been cooking for 35 years. I’m a self-taught chef, with a passion for the culinary arts. In my early days of becoming a chef, I worked my way through New York City. Working at great restaurants like Union Square Café and Lespinasse to name a few. The goal was to open a place of my own in Ann Arbor, a city that I love and where I wanted to raise a family. The dream finally happened 15 years ago when I convinced my brother to join me as my partner. Now that Logan restaurant has established itself as one of the best restaurants in Michigan my brother and I decided to open a chef-driven fast casual restaurant called Chow. Chow is an Asian street food themed restaurant that specializes in custom made bowls, bao bun sandwiches and bubble teas. My passion for Asian food has no bounds and I am so happy to have a place where I can explore the flavors that I love.

What do you love most about your job? Creating new recipes and teaching them to the next generation of cooks. Teaching new recipes and techniques allows me to grow as a chef.

What’s your go-to meal to make at home? That changes with the season. I cook dinner almost every night when I get home from work. In the summer I love to grill and smoke meats in the back yard with my trusty French bulldog at my side. Now that summer is drifting into fall, I’ve moved back indoors. What I’ve been currently obsessed with making is a new type of burrito. I call it the “rectangle-rrito”. Yes, it sounds exactly how it is, you make a burrito any which way you’d like, then you grill it in a cast iron pan. Keep it slow and low, and let it become golden brown on all four sides to make a perfect rectangle, making it look like a rectangle! Top it with your favorite toppings, delicious!

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