Compliments of the Chef with Charlie McKenna

Compliments of the Chef with Charlie McKenna

This week, Chefs Feed met up with renowned chef McKenna at his restaurant in Bucktown.

December 6, 2013
CF: I'm best known for my _______ but I can make one hell of a _______. 
CM: barbecue; grilled cheese. I usually go with country white or brioche bread. 

CF: A few words your sous chef would use to describe you. 
CM: Disciplined, irritating, focused, and sometimes overbearing. 

CF: What are you most excited about right now in your restaurants? 
CM: I am really excited about the reopening of our Bucktown location and providing great food for all of Lillie's followers who couldn't have it for three months after our water heater caught fire. We’re just happy to be able to make our guests happy, and the response has been incredible. I'm also excited about our new Bourbon Barrel sauce that we aged in bourbon barrels for six months. It was just released so we're anxious to get it and the rest of our sauces to the masses. 

CF: Which chef would you drop everything to stage with? 
CM: Thomas Keller at the French Laundry. 

CF: Insider tip from the kitchen for diners. 
CM: Trust the chef. I know people have things they like and dislike, but sometimes it's good to say, "Hey, I know I don't like salmon, but please go ahead and cook me anything else." Know that what they're going to give you is something you will really enjoy. And if you don't, I'm sure they'd take it back and make you something else. 

CF: Message to professional food critics. 
CM: I think it's important to remember that this is somebody's life and career that you're judging, so be careful with some of the words you use and how you critique things. Even the good things said about restaurants need to be a little more focused. Some food critics are big enough to really break a place, so be weary about some of the power you hold. Oh, and please fact-check—it's important. 

CF: One piece of advice for aspiring young chefs. 
CM: Put your head down and focus. If you want to make it in this career, it's going to be a lot of hours and time and you're not going to get paid what you're worth. But if you work for the right people and do the right things, you'll come out on top in the end. Just try to do the best job you can do. Learn as much as you can from everyone, not only the chef but the line cooks as well. 

CF: Favorite fro-yo combo? 
CM: Dutch chocolate yogurt with gummy bears, marshmallow fluff, and sprinkles. 

CF: What’s for family meal tonight? 
CM: Pulled pork. Ha!