Compliments of the Chef with Paul Fehribach

Compliments of the Chef with Paul Fehribach

This week, Chefs Feed met up with renowned chef Fehribach at his restaurant, Big Jones, in Chicago's Andersonville.

December 6, 2013
CF: I'm best known for my _______ style of cooking but I can make one hell of a _______. 
PF: Southern heirloom; pad thai 

CF: A few words your sous chef would use to describe you. 
PF: Intense, kind of psycho, and funny. 

CF: What are you most excited about right now in your restaurant? 
PF: Our barrel-aged punches and our new mixology program. We're taking cherry tree buds (the unopened buds of cherries) and turning them into bitters. We're curing them on salt (like capers) and even pickling some. We also just finished our first ever pawpaw orgeat made with wild local pawpaws. It's pretty amazing! We are also approaching the end of canning season, but not before we sneak in a bunch of preserved quinces; they are my favorite. 

CF: Which chef would you drop everything to stage with? 
PF: I place a really high value on chefs who have one restaurant. There's something to be said when you can expect the chef to always be cooking in their own kitchen. Chef Michel Bras from Restaurant Bras in Laguiole, Aveyron consistently blows my mind year in and year out. He finds inspiration from the landscape of France to determine a lot of his plates. Le gargouillou de jeunes l├ęgumes, a salad he is known for, is always pristine and perfectly manicured (it has more than 100 herbs and lettuces at the peak of the season). I would love to learn how to cook vegetables with him, even just for one day. 

CF: Insider tip from the kitchen for diners. 
PF: We let our tables order however they want, but if you're planning to sit down and have a proper meal, I think you'd have a better time if you ordered your entire meal all at once. This way, we can pace your meal properly. 

CF: Message to professional food critics. 
PF: Before you go to a restaurant for the first time (or even the second time), make sure to wipe your slate clean in terms of your expectations or preconceptions on different kinds of cuisine. No matter how traditionally based the cuisine is, any restaurant you go into will be a completely different experience. It's a personal reflection of the chef, which is a good thing, so just let go of your preconceptions and open yourself up to a new possibility. 

CF: One piece of advice for aspiring young chefs. 
PF: Feed your mind. Read every day. Cookbooks, chef memoirs, or even things that have nothing to do with restaurants, just keep reading. It will help you stay sharp. 

CF: Is there anything you don't like? 
PF: Brunch. Even though it starts "late," it is still getting me out of bed too early. 

CF: Favorite fro-yo combo? 
PF: Vanilla with peanut butter cups or crumbled Snickers. 

CF: What's for family meal tonight? 
PF: We usually wait to see what meat we have left over and then whip up some tacos to go with it. Tonight, it's pulled lamb tacos with vegetables and cilantro.