Food & Wine: Chef Michael Stoltzfus
Photo © Sara Essex Bradley

Michael Stoltzfus

F&W Star Chef

Restaurant: Coquette (New Orleans)

What dish are you are most famous for?
Shrimp and Anson Mills grits. We change it seasonally and always have fun with it. We’ve done it topped with barbecued pork. Right now we’re doing it with a kumquat sauce and grilled kale.

Secret weapon ingredient?
Good vinegars. Our go-to is Blis, which makes a really nice sherry vinegar that we’ve been using for seasoning sauces, fish. It lends a well-rounded acidity.

What’s your current food obsession?
Barbecue. We bought a smoker to take part in a competition—a big charity event in New Orleans—and I’ve been playing with that, with shoulders and ribs, trying different woods. You could probably fit two pigs in there.

What is your favorite snack?
Taco Loco Taceaux Loceaux, a great food truck. They have a barbecued pork taco, and a scrambled egg and chorizo taco that’s really good too. It’s good late night food. They’re usually parked outside a bar, so you go to a bar, grab a beer, then come outside and eat your tacos on the street.

Favorite cookbook of all time?
If I ever do cook at home, I usually cook out of the Momofuku cookbook.

Best-bang-for-your-buck food trip?
Germany. Munich was really cool. They have all the outdoor beer gardens. And Bavaria was absolutely amazing. Everything was really nice and simple: braised pork, cabbages, dumplings. It wasn’t too heavy but it was very hearty. Sitting outside and having a great beer—that’s something I like better in Europe: the fact that you can go to pretty much any city and sit outside and you’re not right on the street. It’s such a great atmosphere.

Do you have any pre- or post-shift rituals?
At the end of the night, if we do more than 100 people, all of the kitchen gets shots. It might be Jameson, it might be moonshine, it might be tequila. It’s usually decided by committee, but some nights, if someone did an extremely good job or really got their ass kicked, they can choose.

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