08 Oct
  • By Jordan Hewitt
  • Cause in

Stone Soup Supper Chefs Q&A

Stone Soup Supper wouldn’t be as successful of an event if it wasn’t for the kind hearted chefs and their restaurants and businesses that support us. These chefs work long days and come happy to serve hundreds of guests, donating gallons and gallons of soup. We sat down with them to get to know them a little better. Don’t forget to buy your tickets early before they sell out. Buy tickets here.

Kevin Smith of 41Hundred

Favorite part of your job?
Creative side of things – being able to use past experiences to create new things. Love to make a 4-6 course dinner from scratch without any guidelines and use my past experiences to make a different end game. Love seeing that creation and watching guests enjoy it.

Most challenging ingredient?
Whole artichokes

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
My mother – she is not a professional chef by any means but she cooked for us 7 days a week and it is her passion. It wasn’t always easy because she was working, but she always got dinner on the table and it was always delicious!

Chef Spencer of Big Ed’s Restaurants

Favorite part of your job?
Teaching is my favorite part of my job. I enjoy being able to train and bring along new cooks and team-members.

Most challenging ingredient?
There is not one particular ingredient I find most challenging, rather, the real challenge is making each ingredient come out consistently.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
I admire the work of and think highly of Chef Walter Royal at Angus Barn.

Andrew Poliquin of Braise at Raleigh Marriott Crabtree

Favorite part of your job?
To be creative and teaching.

Most challenging ingredient?
Chocolate because it’s very temperamental.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Norman Van Aken – I grew up in Florida and he brought bright Caribbean flavor and mixed with Florida flavors.

Allan Cope of Carolina Ale House

Favorite part of your job?
Cooking.

Most challenging ingredient?
Black Truffle because the amount of flavor it puts off.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Matt Kelly – he’s brought a light on food in Durham and people have no idea what area it’s from. They are experiencing flavors they have never tasted before from different countries.

Jason Strickland of City Barbeque

Favorite part of your job?
Guest and employee interactions. Love getting to know everybody!

Most challenging ingredient?
Brisket. Getting the trimming and seasoning just right to hold to our competition quality standards.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
All the Mom and Pop owners out there in our industry who work so tirelessly everyday.

Teddy Diggs of Coronato Pizza

Favorite part of your job?
Crafting the overall guest’s experience; sharing great food with them and creating a comforting environment. I love being able to see and feel their enthusiasm for a job well done.

Most challenging ingredient?
That’s a good one! Sugar, seems simple and straight forward but it can be finicky (and sticky) during the cooking process. I admire pastry chefs.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Jose Andres, a legendary chef from Washington DC. Among running a restaurant empire, he founded World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that feeds thousands of meals for people in need which he did most dramatically last year in Puerto Rico for the island that was devastated by Hurricane Maria. He started a movement that demonstrates what one can do by simply feeding people who need to eat, and he does so around the globe. Chefs don’t have a lot of personal time, as you know; his efforts and successes are most admirable.

Colin Bowles of Donovan’s Dish

Favorite part of your job?
The people I work with.

Most challenging ingredient?
Anything involving flour and baking.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Vivian Howard because she goes the extra mile to research the southern recipes she makes.

Melanie Dunia of Empire Eats Catering

Favorite part of your job?
The constant steadiness – always moving, there’s never a dull moment.

Most challenging ingredient?
Whole fish.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Elizabeth Karmel. She has had a huge impact on the barbecue world and even more with her being a woman in the field from North Carolina. She is the original “grill girl”.

JoAnn Rey of Hayes Barton Baptist Church

Favorite part of your job?
The interaction with people. In other restaurant jobs, I didn’t have that and it was something I was missing. I am the biggest extroverted introvert you will ever meet!

Most challenging ingredient?
Seafood.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Those who take the time to impact your life in a positive way. I went back to school Wake Tech as a mid-life career changer enrolling in their Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality management programs. The first chef instructor I had saw something in me that I didn’t know was there and encouraged me to keep going forward. I originally enrolled for 1 culinary certificate and graduated with 3 Associates degrees, largely due to the chef instructors who selflessly poured into my life. In a world where they could choose more elaborate careers to showcase their gifts and talents, they have made a choice to reach out and mentor the next generation of upcoming chefs which is admirable.

Sean Fowler of Mandolin

Favorite part of your job?
Cooking and eating.


Most challenging ingredient?
Least favorite ingredient to work with is artichokes – they are laborious and not a lot of return on investment.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Frank Stitt because of his contributions to Southern cuisine. Walter Royal because of his character the way that he elevates all of the people around him. Alice Waters – because I think that she has had the biggest impact on the way that current American chefs view food and source ingredients. While she is relatively well known, the scope her impact on modern American restaurants and diners goes largely unrecognized by a whole generation of chefs and consumers. She changed the relationship that we have with our food and continues to do so today.

Andrew Pettifer of Margaux’s Restaurant

Favorite part of your job?
Enjoy all of it – it’s all encompassing.

Most challenging ingredient?
Fish sauce.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
No one famous; two chefs that I worked with; Tony Barlow and Robert Ridley. They are well rounded chefs and aren’t full of themselves.

Ria Dodworth of Oak City Meatball Shoppe

Favorite part of your job?
Everyday is different, keeping me on my toes. Never gets too monotonous.

Most challenging ingredient?
Chicken. I know it sounds crazy because it’s so many peoples favorite thing to cook, but I have an aversion to raw chicken. I don’t think I will ever get over it. I don’t want to eat chicken either, unless it’s fried, because I’m not completely crazy.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
My mom. She can make incredible meals with inexpensive ingredients. She taught us all to love vegetables and not be picky eaters. And she makes the best pies!

Beau Schoenholz of Shiki Sushi

Favorite part of your job?
The guests – my goal is to make sure every guest has the best experience they can every time they come in and always be consistent. The repeat guest is the best guest.

Most challenging ingredient?
Chinese 5 spice. A little goes a long way.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Julia Child because she was the first cooking person I watched on public television as a child and watching her even with the most difficult things; she made them look easy!

Aaron Mooty of Taverna Agora

Favorite part of your job?
Having the opportunity to be creative and work hands on in creating exceptional dishes for our guests.

Most challenging ingredient?
Rose water. It’s one of those ingredients that people either love for the floral flavor, or they hate it. A little drop goes a long way.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
A past colleague of mind, Chef Eric Raymond. I worked with him for four to five years and he was a hard worker, always willing to step in and help our a team; great work ethic. I admire his great work ethic and try to exemplify that in my own work.

Jeff Pineda of The Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham

Favorite part of your job?
Helping to nurture the students and seeing them get their confidence.

Most challenging ingredient?
White Chocolate-if you look at it wrong, it will burn. I personally go out of my way to never use it.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Rachel Ray – I saw her at Meredith when she came here and she started off with 30 Minute Meals pushing people to make good food quickly.

Michael Rehm of The Raleigh Times

Favorite part of your job?
I’m glad that the culture of the Times allows me to explore multiple recipes in the culinary world, while utilizing as many local products as possible. It also gives me the opportunity to experiment with various techniques and ingredients. Long and short of it is I like feeding people good food.

Most challenging ingredient?
That’s a tough one! Sugar. To start, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. While I have no problem adjusting sweetness of most recipes, when it comes to sugar I associate it mainly with desserts. Since I’ve become Chef I’ve only had a few opportunities to focus on confectionary/dessert ideas, so the challenge is all up to me.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Harold McGee author of “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” and Alton Brown of Food Network fame. I feel that most people can learn flavor profiles, and techniques through experience and practice. These gentlemen explain the science behind food. The why and (more importantly) the how applying heat changes the molecules of the things we eat.

Alex Cordova of Tonbo Ramen

Favorite part of your job?
Introducing the combination of slow cooked broth and fresh ramen noodles (not packaged) to the Raleigh area.

Most challenging ingredient?
Not cooking with pork! Developing a great vegetarian ramen broth was challenging. I wanted to create a vegetarian dish that appeals to all ramen lovers.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
David Chang from Momofuku in NYC has inspired me in creating ramen dishes that are enjoyed by both ramen purist and foodies like me. He’s always on the cutting edge and it shows in his menu. He uses simple ingredients and combines them to create great umami flavors!

Aaron Whitcomb of Vidrio

Favorite part of your job?
The creative freedom in developing new dishes

Most challenging ingredient?
Pig uterus – I worked with this as an ingredient in a dish for a Zimmerman dinner. We used it like you would prepare tripe; first we braised it, julienned it and paired it with a crispy salad.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
Thomas Keller because he’s the most balanced chef that understands not just food, but a chef’s life. He said you have to have work/life balance. He is the best in the business and his food is amazing!

Aaron Matyac of Whiskey Kitchen

Favorite part of your job?
Working with local vendors and farms like Interfaith Food Shuttle. They provide education and outreach throughout Wake County. Their quality is unparalleled to any vendor and I feel like I have my own private farmer.

Most challenging ingredient?
French technique was the focus of the Culinary Institute of America and I was taught pairings with wine or beer; paring dishes with whiskey is hard for me as I’m not a whiskey drinker.

Who do you admire in the kitchen and why?
I’m very saddened by the death of Anthony Bourdain. He touched on lots of different aspects of food, politics and food waste. He was the voice for the disenfranchised and marginalized laborers in the food industry. His transparency about the realities of the food service industry were unlike any authors or chefs at the time. He taught me there was a lot of hard work being a chef. I frequently reference Julia Child’s book, Mastering the art of French Cuisine and grew up watching her show on PBS with my family. Paul Bocuse is also one of my favorite French chefs.

#GetSoupedUp and buy your Stone Soup Supper tickets today!