2 Detroit Chefs Discuss Detroit’s Exciting Food Scene

It can probably be said that most of us miss our favorite Detroit restaurants very much. Even if we visited them or picked them up to take away, the food in the restaurant just hasn’t been the same since the pandemic started. But for those in the industry– –the chefs behind our favorite dishes– –How was the pandemic?

A lot has changed in the last year for both the chef and owner of Karl’s Kate Williams and the Shinola Hotel’s head chef, Don Hammond, but that doesn’t stop them from learning, growing, and creating delicious food.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST MOST ABOUT PREPANDEMIC FOOD?

Kate Williams: “I mean, I miss the guests, I miss the service… I went into this industry to take people in and make them

DON HAMMOND, SHINOLA HOTEL EXECUTIVE CHEF

Feel special and create a fantastic dining experience. I never dreamed that in my 18 years of professional activity in the industry we would somehow do something to take away everywhere. ”

Don Hammond: “It’s easy. Just the energy, the pulse of a crowded dining room, loud glasses, people laughing … that’s what we live on as chefs and restaurant workers in general. It feels like we’re without one of ours Arms work without this hard energy pumping through the place. “

What worked well during the pandemic?

Williams: “It was a lot about transparency and really just about testing the comfort of the staff. I felt safe when I came back. That was one of the reasons Karl’s was really only take away. I think that helped a lot in these two reopenings in what they ended up being, and I think the same goes for guests…. To be transparent about what we did and then hold ourselves accountable for it.

Hammond: “I think one thing worked very well for us [San Morello]They know how to prepare meal sets. We did pretty well on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, and even a little on Valentine’s Day. ”

WHAT DID THE PANDEMIC TEACH YOU AS THE CHEF?

Williams: “First, that it’s so fragile and that … we had to really look at ourselves as guests … what the industry is and how it really supports its people and its community. I think small business has been shown to bring the economy to its knees, you know. Everyone is talking about big businesses, and they certainly have a lot of power, but I think we’ve all seen these essential workers and small businesses[es] is really the key to any economy – a sustainable economy.

“I think the collapses in meat production and all of that… just to teach ourselves again, we really need to look carefully at what we do as a company, what we are as an industry, and what that means for workers around the world You know all the possibilities … the need to bring food to someone else’s table in one restaurant. ”

Hammond: “I think it definitely taught us to be more creative about product use and I think what I mean by that is that we … maybe have 30 dishes on the menu and there are no repetitive points in the dishes because we wanted to keep it very … creative and authentic and all those things but now it looks like you see sunchokes in two different dishes, right but they are completely different and we only do this because the sourcing To be honest, turning products into a real product is a thing. “

HOW DO YOU PLAN FOR THE FUTURE?

Williams: “I think you know, just to repeat what I said before [the pandemic] showed that it is [the industry] really fragile and i think so [the pandemic] Lots of people left the industry to be honest. It kind of shows that we really need to rethink our entire business model. ”

To that end, Williams suggests a few things that should be implemented in the future of the post-pandemic industry:

“In a good way, I think the wage rate needs to go up…. Just being transparent and communicating with the team openly that this was a public health crisis so now make sure we are all together and what other safety measures we can take so they can feel safe then to go back to their jobs and make sure that the guests feel safe … and we can operate. ”

“In future things I do, now this lady [of the House] is closed, I also look at different types of restaurants. I’m just wondering what it means to be a chef and what else I can give. “

Hammond: “We created incentives, you know [people]… Come to work here…. I hate to say that because it always sounds so sterile, but cost is really going to run into a lot of things right now. I think we have to invest in the future. I have a feeling that many … owners are beginning to understand this. “

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE DETROIT FOOD SCENE?

Williams: “I love that… the industry is very collaborative, and I still think that even if it has grown on par with other big cities in terms of caliber… it’s still a small city, collaborative, supportive, and less competitive. “

Hammond: “The camaraderie of it…. I really like that, I feel like there aren’t a lot of egos in this city like the culinary world…. It just feels like I’m part of a cool club and I think that’s awesome. ”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH IN THE CITY?

Williams: “It all depends on what you feel like doing! Oh my god, okay, give me a sec … I mean, guilty pleasure is definite Sweetwater Tavern. The steak tartare at Selden standard… any noodles with Wolf, and how mud– Oh my god, I think they have some of the best sandwiches in the state. “

Hammond: “It’s funny because I work in a southern Italian restaurant, but my love and passion is Southeast Asian food and Takoi is probably my favorite restaurant in town. Brad Greenhill makes really good food. He has a dish on the menu called Naem Khao death That’s sour pork and crispy rice. It’s super spicy and very tasty. “

WHAT EXCITES YOU NOW?

Williams: “I mean, obviously eating out with more people, you know, and being able to… party in places again.

SHINOLA, SAN MORELLO RESTAURANT INTERIOR

SHINOLA, SAN MORELLO RESTAURANT INTERIOR

Sure, the buzz of the restaurants, how high were we there for a second at 25%? I mean, it’s like … radio silence in the places and it … loses a bit of its appeal to me. “

Hammond: “I’m very excited to see what these stalled cooks, so to speak, know, so to speak, that they’re all frothing up to get out and really bend over, and I’m very excited to see what James [Rigato] will do at Mabel Gray and what is Seldon [Standard] Will you retire … I know they have a few things up their sleeves, they’re just that kind of people. Kate [Williams]Do you know how to get things moving Charles and the whole thing, it’s an exciting time and I think yeah man I think it will be very cool to see what these chefs are doing. “

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