Who's Our Chef?
In the first month after we opened (April of 2011), I got a call from Greg Cox, News & Observer restaurant critic. He was planning on featuring us in his Epicurean section and I definitely wanted to impress and dazzle him with Relish's greatness. Almost immediately, he asked the question that has continued to crop up since we opened, "who is your chef?". I stuttered and mentally ran through the eclectic crew who got this place up and running.
For starters, I AM NOT A CHEF--with over 40 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 Director of Operations, Kim Berryann, IS NOT A CHEF--with a background in sales and retail management, she has always combed the farmer's market every weekend for the best heirloom tomatoes and local salsas and was a "foodie" before the rest of us even knew what a "foodie" was.
My kitchen manager, Miguel Balderas, IS NOT A CHEF--with a resume full of running the cleanest and fastest kitchen lines in Raleigh and who comes from a family of commercial bakers in Mexico, he uses his mad skills to bring my ideas to life.
My assistant kitchen manager (and Miguel's wife), Laura Ortega, IS NOT A CHEF--with many years of both commercial and family cooking experience, she has a special gift to know immediately the very best way to cook anything and to patiently teach the rest of us how it is done.
So my answer to Greg Cox had to be that we don't really have just one 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 countless hours of 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 Craft Kitchen 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!
Sharon May, Relish Craft Kitchen & Bourbon Bar