The Chef Who Would Feed Escoffier a Ramen Burrito
Chef Beau Schooler answers to Blunt Inquiry.
January 13, 2017
Blunt Inquiry is an ongoing questionnaire series put forth by the creator of those aprons you covet on a deeply stylish level of your soul (Bluntroll, obviously): the one and only Tanya Kelly. We'll be publishing her choice entries from now until eternity! Today's two-step concerns one Beau Schooler, Alaska's chosen son.
What is your idea of a perfect restaurant?
I think any restaurant that presents itself without any pretense or putting on airs, is a perfect restaurant. Or, where it's obvious the kitchen is having fun and cares about the food. Eating good food off chipped plates, at a wobbly table, sitting in a chair with duct tape on it is an extremely enjoyable dining experience for me.
What is your greatest fear at work?
The day it all comes crashing down.
Which working chef do you most admire?
There's too many. If they're still getting their hands dirty with the dishwashers, then I respect them.
What part of work ‘you’ do you most deplore?
What would instantly make you fire someone?
No-call-no-showing, or fighting with other crew. Other than that I don't fire people. I just find the job that's right for them.
What was your most extravagant purchase for your restaurant?
Other restaurants? The wood-burning oven at Lupo cost us a good chunk of money with all the crazy installation costs.
What is your favorite food journey?
In Japan, a family friend took us to an unmarked restaurant that appeared to just be a house. A family ran it, the grandmother washed dishes and looked close to 90. The meal went well past midnight, we drank shots of turtle blood, I had milt for the first time. It was amazing.
What words or phrases do you most overuse at work?
Fuck, god damn it, what am I doing, did I wear a coat today.
What do you regret most after all your years in the business?
I basically missed the first year of my daughter's life [while] working. There's no getting that back.
What do you love most about this industry?
The sense of family that people form with each other.
If you could change anything about the restaurant industry where you are, what would it be?
How people value restaurant employees' time. I'm constantly accused of being overpriced. But whenever I hear that, all I hear is "I don't value you, or your employees' time." If you're an electrician making $35 an hour, don't complain about my $3 tacos. I have a hard time looking grown men with kids in the eye and telling them I can only pay $14 an hour. And if they think I'm banking it they can come check out my one-bedroom apartment.
What do you consider your most essential ingredient?
The work/life balance struggle is real. How good of a juggler are you? Tips?
I'm getting better at spending more time away, but I'm still terrible about it. If I had one tip, it would be: don't make a stranger's dinner more important than dinner for the ones who care about you.
What is your most treasured kitchen tool?
My knife from Nick Anger, he's an amazing craftsman and I have no clue why he takes the time to work with me.
When you finally retire, where will you live?
Somewhere in Alaska, always.
What is your most marked characteristic?
You tell me. (Tanya: “The depth of your wit, Beau.”)
What is the quality you most like in a chef?
What is your greatest inspiration/motivation?
To make sure my kids don't have some of the experiences with poverty that I did. My daughter was able to pick out books at the book fair recently, something I didn't get to do. I was so fucking happy.
Superman or Spiderman?
My prep cook Junior, dressed as Superman.
What is the first thing you remember cooking?
Beck or Clapton?
You have to cook Escoffier’s death row meal. Menu?
Ramen burrito, with all the fixings. And a soda with ice. If we are talking real-life dorm cooking that is.
Favorite kitchen word or phrase?
Yeah, sure, fuck it, let's see what happens.