Potatoes, garlic and lemon – I know it doesn’t make sense but neither does me ending up on a desert island.
What do you think is the most overrated food trend right now?
Innovation and change just for the sake of it. These things are what we should use to engage our patrons but I think it detracts from the experience at a restaurant when they become the conversation.
Is there any type of cuisine that you would like to experiment with?
There is no cuisine that I don’t want to experiment with and I am working hard on getting to them all. It is my goal when working with a cuisine that is new to me to understand the culture that produced it enough in the process to bring authenticity to my work and do it justice.
What are the essential ingredients for success in the restaurant business today?
A laser focus on the customer’s experience, flexibility and a commitment to being detail oriented.
If you could invite any person to dinner, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you cook?
That would have to be my grandmother, and I would cook the Lebanese table favorites that she taught me how to cook. I’d show her that I could prepare them almost as well as she did – almost.
What strategies do you use to attract and retain good kitchen staff?
Creating a good working environment that focuses on camaraderie, personal growth, learning and exploration through food and cooking.
Can you share a tip for controlling your food costs?
Keeping your menus based on seasonal ingredients helps, but nothing beats just being hands on with your food. That is to say, making sure the right amount is being ordered, that it is handled well, cooked right. There really is no magic bullet – it’s about doing a lot of little things right consistently and keeping your eye on the ball.
Do you have any culinary guilty pleasures? Food treats that you couldn’t live without?
Portuguese custard tarts – mmmmmmmmmm…
Click here for Chef Patrick Riley’s recipe for Oyster Margarita Shooters.