Chef’s Corner: Blake Reetz—The Eat Chef’s From-Scratch Approach

. October 31, 2018.
Photo Credit: Casey Claflin.
Photo Credit: Casey Claflin.

Eat (1906 Packard St) chef/owner Blake Reetz spent his childhood on a family farm, where he and his family cooked meals with a bounty of fresh ingredients. Fast forward and Reetz now cooks colorful, family-style meals for a living.

Eat brings gourmet quality to carry-out friendly menu items that span to-go sandwiches, pre-measured ingredients for cook-at-home larder meals, and elevated TV dinners, lending the restaurant a sense of imagination that consistently retains surprise. Reetz is known for showcasing his culinary creativity through old school throwbacks like using a heated rock to keep a bowl of soup warm. Here, Reetz espouses a from-scratch cooking ethos, sharing his favorite local eateries as well as a delightfully unrefined last meal preference.

How would you characterize the appeal of Eat’s cuisine? I like to think of our food as interesting and approachable. It’s comforting but also modern enough to not be boring. A lot of our wedding clients come to us looking for something that feels like a homemade family dinner. We make everything from scratch which adds an extra layer of love.

What’s the quintessential ingredient that sets Eat’s food apart? I don’t know if I could put my finger on one specific ingredient, but I think the fact that we make everything from scratch with our small staff really shows in our food.

Chicken tagine. Photo by Casey Claflin.

Chicken tagine. Photo by Casey Claflin.

How has your relationship to cooking evolved since you started Eat? I don’t cook at home much anymore. The great thing about this profession is that you can never stop learning, and working with other great cooks and chefs who are inspired by food is wonderful. I’m always learning new things.

Where do you eat in the Ann Arbor area aside from your restaurant? Logan is always great for special occasions. Spencer is doing great things. I’ll always love the original Knight’s for its old school charm. My favorite places to get carryout in Ypsi are Casablanca, Macheko Korean, Yee Siang Dumplings, and Antonio’s Coney Island.

What is your all-time favorite meal? Nothing is ever as comforting as my mom’s lasagna.

Your last meal on Earth would consist of what? A whole fried catfish and a 6-pack of cheap beer.

Describe the moment you decided to cook for a living. I grew up on a farm so growing our own food, canning and preserving, and big family meals were always part of my life. I guess cooking for a living just seemed like a natural progression.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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