Compliments of the Chef with Randy Zweiban

Compliments of the Chef with Randy Zweiban

This week, Chefs Feed met up with renowned chef Zweiban at his restaurant, Province, in Chicago's Near West Side.

December 6, 2013
CF: I'm best known for my _______ but I can make one hell of a _______. 
RZ: South American and Spanish flavors; Italian pasta 

CF: A few words your sous chef would use to describe you. 
RZ: Pretty intense, but for the most part a happy guy who's always excited to come to work every day. 

CF: What are you most excited about right now in your restaurant? 
RZ: Our mushroom rillette. I love that it's vegetarian, but it is also one of those dishes where it wouldn't matter if you cared about that or not. We confit the mushrooms in olive oil then blend them with lots of herbs and roasted garlic. We warm all of that in a CVap and top it with some goat cheese fondue to give it the "rillette" look. 

CF: Which chef would you drop everything to stage with? 
RZ: Nobu Matsuhisa. He spent some time in Peru, and you can see those sorts of South American flavors show up in his food, such as how he spices and cooks certain things, although his Japanese side still always shines through. The guy is an absolute artist. 

CF: Insider tip from the kitchen for diners. 
RZ: I think it's really about talking to your server and finding out what they're excited about, because it will usually be the newer dishes that the kitchen's been working on. Servers are also educated on which wines pair best with the new menu items, so as the guest, you can really get a great experience just by talking with them. 

CF: Message to professional food critics. 
RZ: Great food critics follow up with chefs to fact-check. The ones that aren't don't and end up presuming what they think is in a dish, which oftentimes isn't correct. I think it's very important to get the facts straight, because we put so much work into what we do. No matter if the review is positive or negative, we just want it to be accurate when it's printed. 

CF: One piece of advice for aspiring young chefs. 
RZ: Focus, focus, focus, and pay your dues. There are no shortcuts. 

CF: Is there anything you don't like? 
RZ: I'll try anything once, but there are things I don't gravitate towards. Jackfruit is pretty miserable. It has this kind of slimy quality to it. 

CF: Thick or thin patty? 
RZ: Medium. You want to be able to get a good sear on it and enjoy it at your desired temperature. You also don't want it too big because then you can't get all of those fun accoutrements on it. 

CF: Favorite fro-yo combo? 
RZ: Blueberry lemon fro-yo. We've actually been making it here at the restaurant and it's really good. 

CF: What's for family meal tonight? 
RZ: Braised beef short ribs with some veggies and rice served with a nice vegan salad.