Compliments of the Chef with Justin Large

Compliments of the Chef with Justin Large

This week, Chefs Feed met up with renowned chef Large at his restaurant, Big Star, in Wicker Park.

December 6, 2013
CF: I'm best known for my _______ cooking but I can make one hell of a _______. 
JL: Mexican; country terrine 

CF: A few words your sous chef would use to describe you. 
JL: Terrifying. No, just kidding. Hopefully driven, diligent, and someone who can juggle multiple plates. 

CF: What are you most excited about right now in your restaurant? 
JL: I'm excited about my new position as Director of Culinary Operations. It's been a really interesting ride from starting at Blackbird as a culinary intern to working all the way up to where I am now. It's been great to get back into some of the restaurants that mentored me and helped me form my culinary voice. I'm most excited about the creative aspect and the ability to start driving and creating new concepts. I'd also like to be more than just a shoulder to lean on for the chefs de cuisine, hopefully someone who can also help them out and give advice. 

CF: Which chef would you drop everything to stage with? 
JL: Stéphane Jego at L'Ami Jean in Paris. It's been open since the '30s, and I believe he is only their third or fourth chef since it's been open. I had the ulimate meal of my life there. The setting is very casual and lively, and the restaurant is always packed. Chef Jego is putting out the best food I have ever tasted out of this very tiny, little kitchen. Oh, and he's a real screamer, so he's a fun one to watch. 

CF: Insider tip from the kitchen for diners. 
JL: Nowadays, we live in a culture of convenience, and I think this tends to make diners very impatient. What's often forgotten is that there are people behind the scenes who are putting a lot of heart, soul, and care into the products that restaurants are putting out, so please remember to try and be a little more patient. 

CF: Message to professional food critics. 
JL: I've read some pretty rough reviews directed at certain restaurants. Yes, critics are trying to do a service to the dining public, trying to have a very educated take on what restaurants are putting out, etcetera—but I think oftentimes the human element gets lost in the shuffle there as well. In the end, we are all making our living off one another. 

CF: One piece of advice for aspiring young chefs. 
JL: Keep your eyes open. Ask as many questions as you can and write stuff down. 

CF: Favorite fro-yo combo? 
JL: I'm kind of an old-school guy. I'm big with the swirl, just straight up chocolate and vanilla with chocolate sprinkles. 

CF: What’s for family meal tonight? 
JL: Family meal at Big Star is generally an interesting affair. Since we're open all the time, there is no real sit-down meal, period. Oftentimes my prep cooks will bring in some kind of really off-the-beaten-path stuff from Mexico, or we'll whip up some scrambled eggs and chopped hot dogs wrapped in a tortilla. It's magic.