Compliments of the Chef with Paul Kahan

This week, Chefs Feed met up with renowned chef Kahan at his butcher shop, Publican Quality Meats, in Chicago's West Loop.

January 1, 2014 ● 2 min read

CF: I'm best known for my _______ style of cooking but I can make one hell of a _______. 
PK: non-Southern; rack of badass ribs 

CF: A few words your sous chef would use to describe you. 
PK: Patient, fair, and fun-loving. 

CF: What are you most excited about right now in your restaurants?
PK: All of our chefs de cuisine and pastry chefs. We have the strongest pastry team in Chicago without exception. Amanda Rockman (Nico Osteria) is super technical and makes incredible desserts, Dana Cree (Blackbird) is off-the-charts creative, and Anna Shovers (The Publican) is both creative and soulful in her approach to pastry. I'm excited about Nico Osteria because it is of the moment and new, and Erling Wu-Bower and Kim Leali are doing an amazing job. Their gemelli with tripe is the best pasta I've had. I'm also obsessed with puntarelle right now, an Italian green we are using. It's at quite a few of our restaurants.

CF: Which chef would you drop everything to stage with? 
PK: Olivier Roellinger in Cancale, France. He is known for simple cuisine with incredible layers of flavor. He makes these great spice blends inspired by destinations he's been to around the world. He bought a romantic, little 12-room château on the ocean named Château Richeux and opened a restaurant inside called Le Coquillage, serving what he calls "buccaneer food" after realizing he didn't want the kind of responsibility that his previous three-Michelin starred restaurant had. I would absolutely love to spend some time in that kitchen. 

CF: Insider tip from the kitchen for diners. 
PK: Our group is all about hospitality; we really want people to have a good time. Our restaurants aren't this strange void where you feel like you can't say you have a problem with something. If you want something different or you don't like what you ordered, just ask your server. We are always thrilled to provide you with whatever you need, but just ask nicely. Be kind and people will be kind to you. 

CF: Message to professional food critics. 
PK: Thank you for seeing what we do as special. We've never *knock on wood* gotten a bad review. 

CF: One piece of advice for aspiring young chefs. 
PK: When you start working in a new kitchen, do what you're told. Keep your head down. Don't be like one of those jabber mouths who says where they've been and what they already know. Just get your "sea legs" and work your way into the culture slowly. Make sure to always work hard and ask a lot of questions. Oh, and finish your stage; do not ask to leave early. 

CF: Is there anything you don't like? 
PK: There is very little that I don't like, but on that list would be durian, things with too many ingredients, and mini desserts. 

CF: Thick or thin patty? 
PK: Thin and griddled. 

CF: What's for family meal tonight? 
PK: Chef David Posey of Blackbird is a really accomplished ramen guy, so once a month we get some pretty serious ramen with all the garnishes and everything.