Heritage Radio Talk: The Impact of F&W Best New Chefs (Audio Only)

F&W editor Nilou Motamed stops by Heritage Radio show "The Front Burner" with Jimmy Bradley and Andrew Friedman to discuss the 2016 Best New Chefs and the platform's impact since launching in 1988. Joining in the conversation: BNC alums Tom Valenti (1990) and Katie Button (2015) as well as new inductees Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske.

Read the transcript of this video
Today's program was brought to you by Whole Foods Market. For more information, visit wholefoodsmarket.com. Today's program was brought to you by the 2016 Food and Enterprise Summit, presented by Slow Money NYC. Tickets available at foodandenterprise.com. Hi this is Joe Campanelli, the host of In The Drink. You're listening to Heritage Radio Network. Broadcasting live from Bushwick, Brooklyn. If you like this program visit heritageradionetwork.org for thousands more. [MUSIC] Welcome to The Front Burner, with Jimmy and Andrew, where we serve a weekly menu of industry commentary based on what the market has to offer. I'm Andrew Freedman from Toqueland.com. I'm Jimmy Bradley from The Red Cat. If you follow the chef world, as we imagine most of our listeners do, you probably know that Food and Wine Magazine announced its best new chefs inductees for 2016 this week. It was a list that included chefs from New York and Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco, Austin and New Orleans. Miami and Chicago, but what you may not know about Best New Chefs is that the program actually dates back to 1988. With ten inductees every year, sometimes 11 if a restaurant has two chefs as one of our guest restaurants does today. The first class included such future legends as Thomas Keller, Daniel [UNKNOWN] and Rick Ballis and the Food and Wine Best New Chef program continued to predict A lot of top talent in the ensuing years and continues to do so today. And the roots of the award actually go even further back to a very famous at the time food and wine honor roll that the magazine published in 1983, which recognized a number of players in the then fledgling community of American chefs, such as Jonathan Waxman. [UNKNOWN] Susan Finiger. Berry Wine. And the late Lesley [UNKNOWN] and Judy Rogers. And actually [UNKNOWN] was an impressively co-ed group of chefs and influencers. In the studio today, to talk about best new chefs then and now, we have food and wine's Relatively new Editor in Chief Nilou Motamed. Welcome. Thank you for being here. Thank you for having me. And two of this year's best new chefs from Contra and Wilder restaurants here in New York City. Jeremiah Stone and Favian von Hosk. Thank you for being here, guys. Thanks for having me. Thank you. And big congratulations. Thank you. We also have by phone Katie Button. Are you there Katie? I am. Welcome. Katie's from Curate Restaurant in Asheville where I've eaten, it's fantastic. Asheville, North Carolina. And the young Best New Chef veteran who was inducted last year. Also, want to mention if I'm not If I'm correct on this, Katie, your book Curate, Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen, is due out this October. And in a little while we're going to be joined on the phone by Tom Valenti, most recently of Ouest Restaurant in New York City who was a really early inductee into this program back in its third year back in 1990, alongside such people as Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton. So Neela let's just start with you. You know, it's a huge chef world out there in this country and I was just mentioning the early years. There's exponentially more talent out there. And more notable talent probably and a lot more places can you just talk a little bit About how the magazine goes about doing this, how the names come in, how are they vetted, and how in the world do you guys whittle it down? It's not easy, as you say, there's an amazing amount of talent in the US The chef world is more dynamic than ever. You said I was relatively new, I'm under a month right now. Okay, I was trying to be polite. No, I think it's exciting. The magazine has taken the chef culture incredibly seriously And has been a pioneer in showcasing shoves, and we will continue to do that. And for this program, which I think is one of the programs that is as important both to our readers as it is, to the industry, I really appreciate the fact that chefs look at this as a real milestone in their careers. And so we take it Incredibly seriously and it's a year long process in which we start out by putting out feelers, just like you do with any kind of curation in a magazine. And reach out to local critics, reach out to the people who we We trust in our network and once we get that original list then there is a process of going incognito to the restaurants and trying them ourselves. So this takes a long time. Our restaurant editor, Kate Crater leads the march on this but many of the editors are involved throughout the year. And what I loved this year since I'm new was hearing from the chefs that in fact they had no idea when Food and Wine visited. And it truly is something that we do completely in cognito. And then. And after that, about just over a month before they come to New York for their best new chef award, which was just a couple of days ago. We reach out to them and tell them the news. We don't tell them who else is on the list. And then we Ask them for their recipes. So it's a kind of a fast forward, getting all their recipes, testing their recipes, getting them ready for our July issue, where we feature them in the magazine. When you say you reach out to them, is there a specific way you do it? And also, in your selection process Do past recipients of the award inform you or recommend candidates to you? Of course. The thing is that what we say when the new class of best new chefs joins us is that they're part of our family, and Jimmy, you know this, it's one of those things where All of the former best new chefs really are part of the Food and Wine family and part of our culture. And so of course they are definitely people who we reach out to. And we trust their insights because they know who we are and what Food and Wine stands for. In terms of the way that the chefs find out, it's either by phone call We have done it on Facetime before, which is entertaining. And we did it once by video, just to freak people out. We have two best brand new chefs here who can attest to how it feels to get that call, but But I think it's a pretty exciting time. And I think the hardest thing must be keeping it to yourself for over a month. That's really, really hard. But I'm super, super impressed that none of the chefs seemed to break. And they do really Make up all sorts of excuses for why they're gonna be coming to New York, especially since a lot of them do know each other and have worked together before and have done pop ups together before or have worked together in other kitchens. They take it as seriously as we do. Yeah it's funny, I got to compliment these guys because I was at Wild Air for dinner maybe two weeks ago. and we'd already been talking to the magazine about doing this show--with you--with the magazine we didn't know who was going to be winning and I said, "Hello" to Fabiat and he says, "How's the podcast going?" and I said, "Okay" and he said, "You know, we'd come on sometime if you want?" and I'm like, " that'd be--". So the other night I saw him at the food and wine best new chefs party. I said, "Did you know you were coming in when you said that to me?" and he said, "Yeah, I knew". But it was a good poker face. Yeah, don't want to play poker against you guys. So guys, Fabio, who's phone rang? Or did the restaurant phone rang? How did it happen? How did you guys get the news? Yeah, so the day before we got the call we got this Cookie for Cancer event and Cake Creator was there. And, yeah. I've known Kate for like seven years. She's always been on me, even before the restaurant, which I really appreciate. And we had a very personal conversation with her. And it kind of felt weird. And she sent me a text a day after, like, super early. And she's, like, are you with Jeremiah? I need to call you. I was like okay, and she called me, and that was it. That was the call. Well I have goosebumps now. Yeah, it was crazy. I think when we saw her at this charity event it seemed like she had this dead body she needed to dispose of. She was really nervous and she needed to tell us something but she couldn't. We were like what's going on with her. And then she calls the next day, she's like I really wanted to tell you yesterday. And what's it like, I mean this is the kind of thing like how people talking about getting the Michelin call, right? And it's just instant pandemonium in the restaurant cuz it's basically the day of the event or the day before when the list is about to come out, so it kinda gets out pretty fast. How did you guys? You had to keep this quiet, how did you pull that off and not- Did you guys leave the restaurant to have a celebration, like what do you do? We were just outside the door- On the street? Yeah right I grabbed Jeremiah by the arm and Just took him out on the street. I was in the middle of talking to somebody I think and he just like ripped my shirt and was like, come on. He was like, Food and Wine. And I was like, okay. And so we went outside and then he was like, he put her, put Kit on speaker phone and she was just like, she told us. There's no one else outside and she told us. And we were freaking while standing still and not trying to [INAUDIBLE] we walked back in to the restaurant. Took a moment to just take it all in. Gave each other a big hug and then went back to work not saying anything to anyone. But every time we saw each other, big smile on our face that we were knowing something that we've got to keep a secret. Right. Right. It's amazing in the industry when you get your review as well. You have this moment, but then you walk in and then you go back to business as usual. Yeah. Does the amount of time you allow yourself to celebrate sometimes is- Yeah, we knew we had to get back to work, and there'll be a time and a moment for us to share it, and to celebrate. And I think that was You know it was really fun. Everything culminating this past weekend and sharing it with family and friends and being able to tell everyone. And some people being like, you didn't tell me! I'm like, yeah we didn't tell anybody. [LAUGH] Katie, I'd love to know you're one year from your being inducted into this. What Beyond obviously, the honor of doing it, what has the program meant in your professional life? In other words, you know, the three or four days that you were in New York around the induction last year. Did you meet chefs you didn't really know well. Have relationships formed out of that? Just sort of What's the, what's being a member of this sort of club meant in terms of your professional life? It's been an amazing experience. First of all it's something that the magazine issue of The Best New Chefs is one that I would flip through every year. like, timing for. Thinking of, "gosh, how amazing would that be?" and then, you know, when I got the phone call it is--it's an amazing moment. I had just had a baby two weeks prior and I was sitting there at home and got a phone call from the editor it was Dana Cowin at the Time and I Couldn't even believe it. But since then, you know, just the relationship all of a sudden, first of all my Twitter exploded with messages from tons of former Best New Chefs. People that I greatly admire. You know, David Chang, he sent a Tweet out. I'll never forget that, to me. I've never even met him. But [LAUGH] it just. It felt like you were joining a family and also getting recognized by your peers and being a part of that club. It's pretty special. What about the whole experience in New York? I mean I know, I assume it's a little bit different every year. But I know You know everyone's brought out a day or two, the ones who don't live here, a day or two before the party. I know there's usually a dinner of some kind. What, can you just describe what that whole sort of coming out week is like? When you're in the middle of this? Program. Absolutely. Well, it was a whirlwind. I mean, our days were packed with events and, you know, meet and greets. And a photo shoot. And then the big party, where you're meeting. Up for you're finally being announced as one of the best new chefs. And I barely remember the actual, like, I remembered the whole time but it was so--such a whirlwind of emotions and excitement and nervousness all at the same time that it kind of, like, blew by me but it was certainly a moment that I'll never forget. That's great. And what about, did you, I mean are you in touch with people who were in your class or people you met through this program. Absolutely. I keep running into the people in my class and other best new chef recipients at events. Fiddles all over the country and it's pretty amazing. You feel you have this immediate connection. I've become friends with, you know, a bunch of people that I didn't know before. Greg and Gabriel Denton from Ox, and Portland, I keep running into them over and over, and we kind of have this Special thing that we share, knowing that we were both in the Best New Chef recipients. Great, we're gonna take a minute here. Tom, are you there? [BLANK_AUDIO] Tom? Yes. Hey, how are you? Can barely hear you. [BLANK_AUDIO] Can you hear us now? Say again? Can you hear us now? No, not very well. Okay, we're gonna take a second to get things sorted out with the tech side over here. Guys, why don't you just tell us this? Well first of all, I actually would love to just ask, I've interviewed you guys. You seem to be, you have a pretty good familiarity with culinary history and whatnot. What is your awareness of the heritage of this program, and what it meant? It seems to me like, I don't know, the best new chef program seems to me to really Kinda stand out in the chef world. I mean people seem to at least know that it's been around for a long time but what sort of it's place in your mind? I mean for me personally, I think the first time I saw it, it was like 2004 and I'd I was cooking, not in a fine dining restaurant, not in a place that was like chef driven, and I saw that, you know, it's a kind of cover that grabs your eye when you're like at a bookstore or supermarket and you see magazines and there's just a bunch of people in chef coats. And if you're in some, you know, you're in the industry in some way, you're what is this? Like it's some sort of honor, so I think I picked it up probably over 12 years ago. I was like this is another level. I didn't know why, but I was like I wanna be on there one day. Yeah. I think it was seeing everyone, kinda the way they held themselves, and you open it up and it's like You know, these guys are here because of this and then I think as I've started to get more into restaurants and seeing like just some of the names that I didn't know who these people were at the time and then it was like being exposed to them. And immediately thinking where is this restaurant? What is this chef about? And kind of learning about new cuisines. And I think especially like If you're in one place, you kind of get stuck. Even in New York, with all these people coming in, you get stuck in knowing all the people to know in New York and then you kind of forget about places like Kansas City and Seattle Yeah And you're like, someone's doing something really cool out there and I think that exposed me to a lot of Different areas and how there was a huge community of chefs. And everyone was doing something different. Everyone was trying to push the craft. Yeah, it's one of those things Every year you see it, and you're like I have to know who's on there and it's just an incredible, it's always shot differently, but it always looks the same you know what I mean? Yeah. Like you always see these bodies. You see ten bodies on the cover that says food and wine. Or lemons. [LAUGH] Or lemons and so you know what it is and yeah it's crazy for us to just think about that cuz I think You know you set goals for yourself, and you do the best you can, but you never expect anything you know?>> Sure, Tom.>> I wanted to add one thing.>> sure Katie>> The best thing that has happened in this past year since Being nominated is all of a sudden I felt like I have Food and Wine Magazine in my corner. I mean that's been amazing. They're calling me up asking me for opportunities, events, publicity. It's really neat, and it's a dedication that You know, they're making a commitment they're making to the chefs that they're nominating, not just this one time award happening and then kind of being forgotten about. Yeah, yeah, that's great. Tom, can you hear me okay? Yes again. [CROSSTALK] Welcome to the show, Tom Valente. Thank you and congratulations to [UNKNOWN] recipients. I'm very proud. Thank you. Tom, I'd love to just get a sense from you cuz I think it's hard for people to understand that you were inducted into the food and wine Best of chefs in 1990, was the third year of the program, we mentioned the top of the show, predates even and your introduction action predated by a year even the James B rewards. [INAUDIBLE] Can you just talk about your memories of when This program first kind of surfaced on the Chef Horizon and what it meant in the early days, before there was this sort of sea of similar programs and before there was a Food Network. What it meant to have this Thing that sort of connected these dots around the country for people and what it meant to then find out you were part of the third class. Right. Well Andrew obviously we all know that the culinary globe was much, much larger then. We had the big three, food and wine at the top. And leading up to my Award in 1990. The previous three years, for me because of the lack of access made me think of making culinary pilgrimages to such exotic lands as Berkeley or LA or Chicago. And it you know, it I think that the wide eyed wonderment, I wanted to know what these people were doing. How different regions around America were performing. Were they American bred, were they french trained? But, you know? It has no less impact now than it did then. There's just a lot more things going on. That can be maybe distracting sometimes. Yeah, but when you say the pilgrimage, you meant these days so many people are sorta coming and going with such frequency. You meant really to just kinda even see what someone was about in a time before there was as much readily available information, I guess, as there is now. And maybe fewer Forums for you all to kind of be in the same place. Yeah I feel very much so. I mean if I want to watch Alice Waters cook like I did then I could just go on YouTube now. Right, right. I have a thought. Yeah, go. You know, hey Tom, Jimmy, how you doing? Jimmy how are you? Great, thank you. I've been a long time, miss you man. Yeah, you too, right back at you. [LAUGH] I guess receiving the award in the 1990's some time ago and then being part of the landscape through the years and the changing of the landscape, I'm a little curious about Did you have a sense of, what is going on now? Did you have a sense of what it might lead to? Were you feeling then, about some of the progress that's come out today, and chefs would be more spoken about. And there's opportunities for chefs to speak to each other more, and get to know each other more, and things like that? Well you know I think that back then we had a group that was local to New York. And we kind of all knew each other. Many of us were, for I guess New York and the east coast, we were the first wave of French trained American Chefs coming up in the ranks. And I really was kind of limited to what we were doing, and you know, it was all kind of encased on the island of Manhattan for the most part. We didn't really see anything coming until the advent of Food on tv. And I'm not talking about [UNKNOWN] Julia Child, but more of this phenomenon that took us from blue collar workers to media stars. And obviously that brought on a much greater interest in Youngsters who had access to see Mario, Bobby, or Emerald. And I think that's when it really exploded. There's TV in like every living room in America. Yeah, it's funny Tom. You talk about the explosion. I'm sitting here with a full list with the last. The awards going all the way back to 1988, if you go backwards from 90, just in the first three years, 90 being your class. Todd English and Nancy Silverton were that year. David Boule and Nobu the year prior and then in the first year, Rick Baliss, Daniel Balu, Thomas Keller. At the time Each of those people had one restaurant. That's right. I mean it's really a completely different universe that you all are kind of working in today to what it was back then. For sure. For sure. A lot of people obviously the demand of The demand of more and more restaurants across the country. The investment interest in being involved in somethings as [LAUGH] hardy har har, glamorous. [LAUGH] Perpetuates more and more. Consequently the culinary Educational institutions have a higher degree of interest and consequently more and more people are applying and graduating. And that's when you start seeing multiples of restaurants. It's an issue of demand. Great. Sorry, Nilou wants to get in. I think the idea of these chefs, these very young chefs, like the ones that we have here as entrepreneurs, is something that we are really seeing on the list. These mini empires, that chefs who haven't even been on the list Have already put together. I think two of our chefs have done Ted Talks, three of our chefs started their restaurants in their own homes. So the idea of being so engaged in the idea of communicating their culinary vision, and I think I would say a lot of that comes from Having seen Food and Wine Magazine and having seen Best New Chefs along the way and seeing that this is an opportunity where you can actually go beyond one restaurant to being an empire builder. That's good. [INAUDIBLE] Did you have something you wanted to say Jeremiah? I think yeah it's kind of crazy that like, I always talk to I've been around a lot of the older chefs. Like Andre Sutner and [INAUDIBLE] and all these guys that I consider mentors. And they, Andre Sutner had one restaurant for 378 years. 37 years. Yeah like five [INAUDIBLE] of work in 30 years. And everyone offered You know Tokyo and like [UNKNOWN] and Vegas. And you know, I think that I kind of have that mentality. And you see like- especially in New York people like Dave Chang like helped pave the way. And helped the younger chefs understand like That there's a lot of things that need to go into opening a restaurant and running a business. And in this economic climate being in New York and not kind of squandering the opportunities cuz we talk about all these things happening, the awards and the attention. And it's kinda like, what do you do with that? Do you invest that? The right way. You know you're given all these pieces and do you put the puzzle together or do you just sit there and say, well thank you. And put it in your back pocket. I think there's obviously a way to go wrong about that, but I think it's kinda learning How to do that, how to keep the level of quality up and then how to say well, you know we have all these eyes and this attention and people helping us. And how do we turn that into something, you know Use that entrepreneurial spirit, and, kind of, keep pushing it forward. Tom, I wanted to ask you about this. I guess back in the day, how did receiving this award impact your career, and how did it impact the restaurant at the time when you received the award and maybe in the subsequent year? You there, Tom? Yeah, it was huge, you know, it was huge. I think that it put a stamp of approval on our foreheads. [LAUGH] You know, and it just was, it was, a big, moreover, it was Such a prestigious thing that I think we all hold on high to be counted among this, you know, this incredible talent surrounding you within that context. You know, food and wine Did their homework, and they continue to do their homework. It must be increasingly more difficult to select, because there is a sea of talent out there. And it's very cool. Yeah, maybe you should do it monthly. Yeah. [LAUGH] Well that's the thing. It is very challenging to narrow down all that talent to ten restaurants. And something we take very, very seriously. Because honestly, as I did the same thing that you did, which is look back at the years we've been doing this. The 28 times we've done this. And the sheer immensity of the program, the sheer immensity of the talent that's represented, and the fact that you all are part of that... History is incredible, and so we take it So seriously, and then every month is a good idea. Let's all get right back on that. Now don't hate me when you're pulling those all-nighters every, the 28th of every month. I want to make sure I get February in there. The one other thing I'd just love to touch on, connecting a little bit of this and then maybe we'll go to our break. But Jeremiah was just talking about the chef as entrepreneur, and Tom, I mean maybe you could just speak to this for a second? You know? Even that notion, I think, when you were coming up, was a relatively new thing, you know? You talked to people who were in Los Angeles. And there was very much, I think the real demarcation line was sort of when, you know Wolfgang, I think, maybe went from being basically an employee at [UNKNOWN] to being the owner with Barbara [UNKNOWN] at Spago. A lot of New Yorkers point to Jonathan Waxman and Mel Master- Or Michael McCarty.- in New York as being, I know I've spoken to Tom Clincio about this, as seeing, we can own restaurants or Charlie Palmer doing oriole in the late 80s, leaving Riverside Cafe to open his own restaurant. There was a lot of really empowering stuff going on right around those few years, no? Yeah, absolutely. For some of us, I think it was like a dog facing a car in terms of owning your own restaurant. The problem is that sometimes The dog actually caught the car you know.>>>Right.>>>Couldn't reach the pedals and you no opposable digits consequently you know they go out in flames because it's a whole different discipline. I mean you know a lot of us grew up you know learning the craft on the job and learning how to cook and really not Having a full comprehension of, yeah, I actually have to make money doing this? In order to continue to pursue our craft. You know what I mean? Yeah. It's really interesting progression. Katie, did you want to get in? Yeah, I do. I think that, you know, this It is true that receiving the Best New Chef nomination, it makes you pause and take a moment and decide. What are you going to do with your career? What does this mean, what are you gonna do with this opportunity? And kind of all at the same time I've got chef and owner of two restaurants. [BLANK_AUDIO] Cook book coming out as you mentioned earlier. This weekend I'm giving a talk at the Mother's News Fair about sustainability in the restaurant industry. And so I think that it's like Food and Wine Magazine is giving you a platform and it's deciding What are you gonna do with that? And right now I'm kind of in this moment where I'm like gosh I need to find my voice and figure out what it is that I want that to be about and who I want to be in this career. And so it's an interesting place I think for chefs to be in and Food and Wine is a big part of that. Great. Well we are gonna take a break in a moment. We are chatting with Nilou Motamed, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine, Katie Button from Curate restaurant in Asheville, Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske of Contra and Wildair in New York City. All of those guests will be staying with us. Tom, we're gonna say goodbye to you. Thank you so much for joining us, it was great to have your perspective today. Thank you. Great to hear all your voices. And again guys, congratulations. Thank you, Tom. Thanks so much. Thank you. All right. In the Front Burner with Jimmy and Andrew. We'll be right back. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] Today's program is proudly brought to you by Whole Foods Market, America's healthiest grocery store with more than 400 locations throughout the United States. Download the Whole Foods Market app on your smart phone for recipes, sales, information, and digital coupons. Or visit WholeFoodsMarket.com to find a store closest to you. [MUSIC] Have you listened to A Taste of the Past? It's a show devoted to connecting our current food world with its storied past. [MUSIC] Host and culinary historian, Linda [UNKNOWN], welcomes chefs, scientists, authors, scholars, and revolutionaries into the studio to discuss food culture and history from around the globe. Have you seen the culture. Nature of food change over the past 25, 30 years. It's been incredible. Linda covers content relating to the history of black chefs in the white house, to behavioural psychology and the evolution of Italian food in America. You can listen to a taste of the past anytime, on heritageradionetwork. org or on iTunes and Stitcher. Welcome back to the front burn with Jimmy and Andrew. Here we're talking about the food and wine, the best new chefs which announced its class of 2016 earlier this week. In the studio with us, we have Nilou Motamed, editor and chief of the magazine. Jeramine Stone and Fabian Ivana who's Contra and Wildair restaurants here in New York City. And on the phone we have Katie Button of Curate restaurant in Asheville. I'd love to talk to the chefs here about this right now and starting with you, Katie. But this is our last Show of the season. It's our first season and Jimmy and I were just taking about this earlier today as we were getting ready to come over here. Our very first episode was called Staying Alive. And we were talking with at the time it was Amanda Cohen, Gavin Casin and Harold Moore. And we were talking about sort of how hard it is for restaurants these days to stay kind of top of mind for their customers. It seems like, and this is something actually that I talked to Jeremiah and Fabian about when we did an interview for Mike Toland last year. You know, it seems like it's a real sort of short attention span atmosphere out there. That there's a proliferation of restaurants that seems almost never-ending. And it seems to me like an award like this has gotta be beyond the honor of it and everything else. It has to provide some sort of precious Lifeblood of attention. So Katie, I'd love to ask you, I mean I've spent a little bit of time in Ashville, I mean there's a vibrant restaurant community down there. I know the population of that city is Expected to increase dramatically over the next decade. But what's it like down there? When you hear people talking about these topics, is it a similar dynamic there? Or is this a challenge that you face? And how does something like this benefit your, just on a bottom line level? Not to be crass or mercenary about it, but how does it How does it help you guys out? Yeah, well I mean it is true that you do feel like as a chef you gotta keep on the forefront of everybody's mind. And therefore you have to always have something that you are doing or you can say or announce. And I think A new restaurant, an expansion, a cookbook, events that you're traveling to and participating in. The food and wine announcement. You just have to have all of these. The James Beard award. These little things that constantly saying, look at me, look at me, look at me. Come in. It gets to be a little bit exhausting and it definitely brings up the question for chefs because what we do is, we wanna be in our restaurants and it's challenging to put people in those places and be able to travel and do these events. And participate in things and still maintain your restaurant. So it's kind of a Give and take in that area. In Ashville we're a smaller community, so while the locals for sure know their favorite places and they're really loyal and going back and frequenting the places that they just love. And having a chance to rotate through all the restaurants, the We get 10 million tourists that come to Asheville every year, and it's getting their attention. It's captivating like, that audience. You have to, people in town have to be buzzing and talking about you. And therefore there has to be something new and interesting. And it can feel like a lot of pressure to be that new and interesting thing. Was this a part of what you do that you anticipated when you decided to become a chef owner? You know the analogy I always make, just having this conversation with so many people in the last year, is when you hear people in Congress interviewed and they say they spend. 50% of their time legislating and the other 50% on a phone somewhere, off-site, making fundraising phone calls. So that that they can keep being in their job. But was this part of the life something that you anticipated coming into it? Or was it something that you kind of slowly realized, this is a real Necessity I had no idea. It was, I mean, I just, I was thinking I'm going to open up a restaurant. I am gonna be the chef and I'm gonna be in my restaurant everyday running service and keeping the quality and doing my thing. But it quickly became Very apparent. First of all being in a smaller community, I think sometimes we have to shout a little louder for everybody to be able to hear us because we are competing with Chicago or New York or San Fransisco. And we've been very fortunate in Ashville because it's kind of been a booming moment right now so we're getting a lot of attention and we're trying to Seize on that publicity, the positive publicity for Ashville. But either it's not something that I expected at all, but it's something that I quickly realized was really important because for each event and network you meet people, then another opportunity comes up. Then something else and in another city and pretty soon the people who are in the food world in that city now know your name, and So it snowballs in a good way. Great. [UNKNOWN] Well, I was just taken by what Katie was saying. I think there's a couple of threads that seem so so important. One of them is Social media and the fact that you have to feed it. And so I don't think that, I mean Instagram to me is where we all communicate and the fact that chefs now have to make sure that they're present there otherwise they're absence is very felt. Another area which I'd be curious to hear about from the point of view of chefs is Is having PR. I was talking to one of our best new chefs at our opening night party, and I said well how's it going? Are you getting lots of PR requests? He's like, well I'm the one who handles the PR. I said well I don't know if that's gonna be maintainable for you, and he said really? You think I need a PR person? I said Yeah. I think you're gonna need a PR person and so I think it is so amazing to me the fact that these are really, really a kind of homemade entrepreneurs and the fact that suddenly there's going to have to be as I imagine you guys have experienced the idea of having a network around you that supports you and enables you to be in the kitchen but also be out of the kitchen. Yeah how was it, I mean Fabian and Jeremiah, how does this kind of evolution work for you? I remember we interviewed I think early in the fall and I remember you saying to me, you know, Contra was such a hot restaurant, still is. But I remember you saying like at the end of I think your first year maybe or year and a half that you guys had started to actually see a little bit of a Reduction and reservations and then you've got a lot of the end-of-the-year mentions, like you're on a lot of Best-Of lists and that kind of pumped it up again. It does seem like even for two really hot restaurants right next to each other, feeding each other, I imagine, in some ways Even for you guys this is a thing. Yeah I mean like Katie said, I think when you're open, especially as we open we were like really young. I was 23. You were 26, 27, and we opened. No one really knew about us, so I think it's a very difficult landscape to navigate when no one knows you. Can you quickly learn that you want all these awards you wanna be best in your shift because the ambition is there but you kind of realize that in order to be influential and in order for your business to survive, to pay payroll, to keep your staff motivated you need to get these things because then that will help you. Be a force in the industry. And I think that having [UNKNOWN], having someone who understands and who can translate that to the media and to other people is very important. I mean, we work with two of our great friends So that helps a lot, yeah. Yeah, honestly we did our own everything, we did our own reservations, we didn't have a reservation system, we took it by book. I think it's funny because even though we opened in 2013 We still started off like we were opening in 1984, you know? It was like we had a book for reservations. Yeah. We didn't work with anyone. I was a saucier, working breaking down meats. And I was like, I don't have time to, we had big publications reaching out to us that we missed out on and that we messed up because We didn't check our email enough. You know? And I think that's>> That's actually much more common thing than people probably realize. I've heard so many young chefs say to me, you know, kind of smack themselves on the forehead, like, we blew it, or we missed that. Yeah. I think Thomas Keller could have emailed us and said hey I wanna meet you guys and we probably would have missed it cuz we just lost it in our inbox, you know? Yeah. But that also kept you in your kitchen more, and maybe it's helpful in being where you are today. Maybe that's why we're here today cuz we were focusing on the quality, we were focusing on the thing we were best at At the time and that we still focus on his cooking. And I think working with our friends doing PR like a lot of that was just, we need someone to be, hey, it's important that you email people back and that when they ask for something you send them a photo of yourself. That's all they're asking for. And we're like Yeah, I totally forgot about that. I was gonna do it yesterday, but then I had to, you know, I was breaking down, like, you know, three whole limbs.>> Yeah. You know, I just forgot about it, you know. Yeah, there's definitely, there's definitely a class out there to be added to sort of a culinary institute. I don't mean, ->> [LAUGH] specifically the CIA, I mean to cooking school Yeah. curriculums. About this piece of the business, cuz it's a very, it's a very common thing. And also just for anyone out there who's trying to reach chefs, text them, don't e-mail them. Yeah That's my advice, don't e-mail a chef [LAUGH] I think, you know, the other thing is I've got to give credit to people like- I remember running into, talking to Carmalini, talking to Chang and their advice for you is never- I see these guys and I'm like ' you want to open a restaurant, hopefully, next year. Their advice for you isn't like 'Hey, this is how you season a sauce.' They, everyone expects you to That you're gonna do your thing. You're gonna know how to cook and if you're gonna attempt something like that. And it's like any time you talk to chefs who are in it, their advice is always about, make sure you're doing this with your staff and doing this. These are the numbers, and think about the important things about maintaining a business. It's like, and all those guys have been Incredible mentors, and even though you hear it sometimes you, they'll tell you the numbers, they'll tell you everything that you need to do. And then you open and you're like, I gotta make this sauce and [LAUGH]. Right, you know what's so funny, years ago I did a, I think the second book maybe that I ever worked on and it was an anthology. It was based on the CBS show Chef on a Shoestring. And huge breadth of chefs involved. And I just started to be writing in around this field. And the thing that was so fascinating to me was the higher you went up in terms of stature and success, the people you thought would be the hardest to get to and get a meeting with and all that, they were actually the easiest. It was really not a tough thing to get time with Mario Batali, it was not a tough thing to get time with Eric Ripert, it was the sort of independent one off people who haven't figured out what you guys are figuring out, or what UKD are figuring out, just people who hadn't figured out how to deal with that part of their lives Were the ones that it was actually the hardest to get to. It wasn't, to your point, the people who had made it to the top had gotten there, not just, I think, not just cuz of their chops. I think they'd gotten there because they understood professionalism and how to run a business. Yeah, and you don't reach out to a chef during lunch and dinner to expect to speak with him. Right, yeah. We're gonna take just a quick second before we thank our guests, because Jimmy, it's our last show of our first season. Check it out. We've made it through it [CROSSTALK]. We made it. One of the three seasons. We should have planned a wrap party. But we wanted to thank the guests who have been on this show before. We've done 12 shows, it's It's been the support, and the people have come out have been amazing. Whether it was David Kinch calling in from Los Gatos or Sam Sifton calling in from The Times, or Kat Kinsman coming on to talk about her Chefs with Issues program in its, I think, its 10th or 11th day of existence. Hannah Raskin with her- Hannah Raskin, legends like David Waltuck and Droony Porent. Then young guns like Alex Stupak and Gabe McMackin. Yep and some great thinker chefs like Amanda Cohen and Gavin Kaysen, its just been great for us. And that's just a very few of just too many people that we've been really humbled to have on. We have a couple of things In the works that we can't talk about for our second season which begins April 28th. But some pretty big guests and some people we're really excited about who have some news and some things launching that we believe we'll have in here right around the time that those things happen. We'd like to thank our guest Katie Button. Katie, thank you for calling in we really appreciated having you on. Thank you so much, it was a pleasure. Thanks, Katie. Jeremiah and Fabian from Contra and Wilder, thank you guys. Great to see you, congratulations. Thanks so much. Yeah, thank you. Nilou Motamed, Editor-in-Chief of Food and Wine- Yay, Nilou. Again, since you're calling it a new job I'll say congratulations again, great to have you here. It's pretty exciting. Thank you so much. And I'll be at the Chef's Collaborative [INAUDIBLE] this Tuesday at New york City at NYU. I'm seeing their short talks which is just part of a three day program which begins this weekend. For more information or if you'd like to attend visit chefscolalborative.org. Thanks as always to Store Front Music for our theme song Heavy metal Gumbo. And to our engineer, David [INAUDIBLE]. And that's it Jimmy. That's it. Great doing the season with you. It's a wrap Andrew. With that I'm Andrew Friedman. I'm Jimmy Bradley. We'll see you back here in a few weeks on the Front Burner with Jimmy and Andrew. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] Thanks for listening to this program on heritageradionetwork.org. You can find all of our archived programs on our website or as Podcasts in the iTunes Store by searching Heritage Radio Network. You can like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at heritage_radio. You can email us questions anytime at info@heritageradionetwork.org. Heritage radio network is a non profit organization. To donate and become a member, visit our website today. Thanks for listening.
Sponsored Stories
Heritage Radio Talk: The Impact of F&W Best New Chefs (Audio Only)