So I wrote a great piece on the power of food and sadly had to submit before I could get material from all of my sources (curse you procrastination !). I still have great stuff rolling in and I’m not one to waste.
This has led me to an awesome new idea I will be calling, “Ask a Chef.” Hopefully this one won’t be the first and last.
So without further delay, the first official Monocacy Munchies ” Ask a Chef” is Rory A Watts II, Chef de Cuisine for Hootch and Banter.
1. People tend to travel to restaurants for celebrations. As a chef, do you also celebrate with food?
As in most families, celebrations are always anchored by food. It can be a son winning a basketball game and wanting pizza, or turkey during the holidays. Coming from a rather large family, when something brings us all together, there is no space in the kitchen. We have a couple of grills going outside, prep being done on the front porch, and everyone is involved. Food is definitely a great equalizer and no celebration can happen without it.
2. Food for many plays on the senses of sight, smell, and taste. Some sights and smells recall happy (or sad) lifetime memories. Is this true for you and do you have a personal example?
Being a chef there are several times a day when a sight, smell or taste engages your memory bank and sometimes this will spark something that can either make you smile or tear up. It’s just like the scene from one of my favorite movies, when the food critic takes a bite of a dish from his youth (Ratatouille) and it sends him back to beautiful memories of his mother. I too, had an epiphany such as this very recently, when making a Portuguese staple, Kale soup for the first time on my own. While it was cooking, the smell brought back so many memories, I had to message my mother immediately.
3. Have you found that sharing images of your food either in menus, signage, or online have boosted sales?
I have always felt social media was built just for the Culinary profession. I have always posted to Facebook, as sort of organizer for the dishes I have composed. After becoming a head chef, the use of Facebook and now Instagram by both myself and the restaurant, has definitely helped to bring in business.
People are looking to see what we are doing each week, and they use our posts to make decisions on whether to come to the restaurant and eat or not, what exactly will they order and are they going to bring their family and friends. Just recently, I had a friend that I hadn’t seen in 20 years, make a special trip to eat at the restaurant just because of the posts he had seen. This could also be a curse if you don’t continue to push to always be better, negative posts can take away business. As a couple of wise chefs once told me, “As a chef you’re just renting time and the rent is due every day.”
4. Is there a food you think is god-awful ugly but tastes amazing?
Well two things that jump out at me are Monkfish and Artichokes. If you were to see a Monkfish and someone asked you to eat it, you might break out in laughter or total disgust. It looks like a prehistoric fish that is the stuff of nightmares, but I promise you will not be disappointed if you ever find it on a menu and try it. Now Artichokes aren’t ugly per say. You have this vegetable that looks like someone enlarged the top of an asparagus and 90 percent of it you really don’t want to eat. It takes several minutes to break down to this single little disc, but when it’s cooked, it is almost heaven for me!
Thanks for the great responses Chef!