Chef Interview Series: Chris Stallard

Chef Interview Series: Chris Stallard

It is this love of learning that fuels Stallard to push the culinary boundaries of his craft.  Recently moving to Nashville from Knoxville, Tennessee, Stallard serves as the pastry chef and sous chef at Flyte World Dining & Wine.  He has served as Executive Chef and Pastry Chef at Bistro by the Tracks in Knoxville for the past year and 3 months.  Before moving to Knoxville, Stallard assumed the role of Chef de Cuisine at Tristan under Chef Nate Whiting.  Stallard is no stranger to the Tristan kitchen, serving as the interim Pastry Chef in 2009 while Teaching Full time at The Art Institute of Charleston where he taught Garde Manger, Asian Cuisine, Art Culinaire, and A la Carte Dining Room & Dining Room Operations.  The A la Carte Dining Room serves as the campus’ own student run restaurant with seasonally driven menus that under Stallard’s guidance focused on using classical and progressive techniques.  During his tenure at the Art Institute, Christopher worked numerous Wine & Food Festival events, Special dinners with local chefs, participated in Chef’s Feast, and Guerilla Cuisine.  Stallard left the Art Institute to accept an Executive Chef position at Chai’s Lounge in 2011. He also served as the Culinary Mentor for the Wando High School Pro-Start Culinary Competition team.  The team won the state competition and advanced to The 2011 National Pro-Start Invitational where the team competed against 42 teams and placed fourth in the nation. Stallard relies on an extensive background in the kitchen gleaned from more than a decade of study around the southeast.  While serving as Executive Sous Chef at the Orangery...
Chef Interview Series: Beth Somers

Chef Interview Series: Beth Somers

TL;DR We had the chance to chat with Beth Somers and learn about her journey into baking. If you are interested in reading more about interviews of other inspiring chefs, check out our upcoming book! Professional baker. Amateur cook. I love rallying folks around new ideas in food and flavor, and am a staunch advocate for homemade dinners on Sundays. I’ve worked in the Test Kitchen and Decorating Room at Wilton Industries for the past 6 years, developing recipes to drive product sales, advising decorators on their cake designs, and traveling the country on televised media tours. I’ve worked with top food bloggers and vloggers on their content, and have written lots of pieces and filmed many videos myself. There’s a trail of cake flour behind me leading back to my bakery days. I’ve made more cakes than I can count; for birthdays, weddings, and retirements, for divorces, lay offs, and random Tuesday nights. I’m also a Food Network Cupcake Wars winner, because you can never have enough cake. I’ve been an intermittent caterer, a wedding consultant, a menu planner for food start-ups, and had an extremely short-lived stint as a line cook. Can you start by telling us a bit about your background (what you do now and what other experiences)? I was a career changer really early on. After graduating from undergrad, I worked in ad sales for 5 years. It sounds silly, but at the time I was watching a lot of TLC wedding shows, and I really started getting into wedding cakes and how artistic they can be. I then decided to go to went to pastry school...
Chef Interview Series: Will Fincher

Chef Interview Series: Will Fincher

 TL;DR Here is a snippet of our interview with Chef Will Fincher. If you are interested in reading the full interview along with interviews of other inspiring chefs along with a lot more goodies check out our upcoming book. Being home-schooled in the small town of Decatur, Alabama, Will Fincher had plenty of time to work in local restaurants.  Will got his start in the food industry at age 15 and has worked in the business since that time.  In 2006, Will moved to Charleston to attend the Art Institute where he received a B.S. in Culinary Arts Management.  Upon graduation in 2010, after working for REV Group for almost 3 years, Will was promoted to Executive Chef of Monza and Closed For Business.  During his time there, Will also spearheaded menu development for REV Group’s other restaurant concepts. Over the years, Will has made Charleston his home and has established many rich relationships with his guests, colleagues and the farming community.  He has also volunteered with Lowcountry Local First, the Green Heart Project and many other local charitable causes. Will’s passion for Italian food, his commitment to Farm to Table practices and his outstanding reputation in the Charleston food and beverage community helped make him a natural fit to lead the kitchen at the Obstinate Daughter.  Having spent 6 months with Executive Chef Jacques Larson at Wild Olive prior to opening of The Obstinate Daughter, Will’s interim position on John’s Island helped solidify his mission to deliver well executed and simple seasonal cuisine. Can you start by telling us a bit about your background (what you do now and what other experiences)?...
Chef Interview Series: Emily Peterson

Chef Interview Series: Emily Peterson

TL;DR Get to know the incredible Emily Peterson in this interview we had with her. If you are interested in reading the rest of this interview along with interviews of other inspiring chefs, check out our upcoming book! Chef Emily Peterson is a food writer, culinary instructor, and Executive Chef at Astor Center in New York City. Emily is a professor of food studies at NYU and Montclair State University. Her work has been featured on Martha Stewart, Robb Report, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Time Out NY, Huffington Post, Edible, CBS, NBC, FOX, Food Network and Vegetarian Times. Chef Emily hosts the weekly call-in radio show Sharp & Hot on HeritageRadioNetwork.org. She lives on a 250-year old family farm in New Jersey with her husband, son, cat named Oyster, a flock of chickens and a dog named Rooster. Can you start by telling us a bit about your background?  Both my parents are great home cooks. My dad has always wanted to open a restaurant, and I remember before I even went away to college, he offered me the chance to open a restaurant with him. But back then I said: “No Dad! I’m going to be a graphic designer!” So I went to undergraduate art school and graduated with a degree in graphic design. After graduation, 9/11 happened, and it was very difficult to find a job. I worked in public events at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where I was able to run my manager’s job for two years when she was on leave, planning fantastic events like the Cherry Blossom Festival. After that, I ended up applying to be a New York City...
Chef Interview Series: Ülfet Özyabasligil Ralph

Chef Interview Series: Ülfet Özyabasligil Ralph

TL;DR Here is a snippet of our interview with Chef Ulfet. If you are interested in reading the full (amazing!) interview along with interviews of other inspiring chefs check out our upcoming book. Chef Ulfet was born in Istanbul, Turkey where she started to learn and develop her cooking skills specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. She has her Certification in Baking and Pastry from The Art Institute of Atlanta. After her relocation to Charleston, which is a new Food and Wine destination, she enrolled at Culinary Institute of Charleston to study under many talented chefs to sharpen her skills. Since February 2014, she has joined with Farmer Lee Jones as the Chef de Cuisine at the Culinary Vegetable Institute at Chef’s Garden. Recently, she was named the Best Chef at 2014 Asheville Wine and Food festival. She is the first female ever who competed and won! What is one book you most often recommend to aspiring student chefs? If I have to train somebody, or if I am talking to a student, there is always this one book I recommend. Personally, I was skeptical before I enrolled in culinary school. One day, I went to Barnes and Noble, and I bought Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. I finished that book in ONE DAY, the next day that I enrolled in Culinary School. That’s my go to source for what it’s like to work in a kitchen and be a chef. You have to feel it in your heart. I like to give this book to whoever works under me. Just read it, and you will understand what life is as...