In the first month after we opened, I got a call from Greg Cox, News & Observer restaurant critic. He was planning on featuring us in his Epicurean section and he asked the question that has continued to crop up since we opened, "who is your chef?". I stuttered, "well, uh...uh...." and quickly ran through the list of the eclectic crew who got this place up and running.
For starters, I am not a chef--with over 30 years of Raleigh restaurant experience, I have worn just about every hat except a chef hat and with no formal culinary training I draw on my years of customer interaction to simply know what people like to eat. My general manager, Kim Berryann, is not a chef--with a background in sales and retail management, she is a foodie experienced at combing the farmer's market every weekend for the best heirloom tomatoes and local salsas. My kitchen manager, Miguel Baldaras is not a chef--with a resume full of running the cleanest and fastest lines in Raleigh and a family background of owning bakeries in Mexico, he refuses to be considered as anything but a technician following our recipes. My assistant kitchen manager (and Miguel's wife), Laura Ortega, is not a chef--with just a special gift to know just the best way to cook anything we ask, I know she must she must fold in a sprinkle of love in every dish and every sauce.
So my answer to Greg Cox was, "well, uh...uh...we don't really have a chef." The truth is that Kim, Miguel, Laura, and I have been inspired by our own personal collections of recipes and cookbooks that we have modified to suit our commercial kitchen and our own individual taste preferences. We all brought with us a joint love of eating in interesting restaurants around the world, pouring through beautifully laid out cookbooks for inspiration, and watching the fascinating food network chefs to "borrow" ideas and make them our own (okay, that part is mostly me). Each of us has brought our own separate strengths to the Relish Cafe & Bar menu and I am positive that between the four of us, we make at least one very talented chef. In the end, all we can do is hope you all enjoy this culinary journey with us, chef, no chef, or many chefs!