Yesterday, we brought you a short profile of chef Richard Chamberlain, owner of Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House and Chamberlain's Fish Market Grill. Today, the chef answers a few questions for us, and tomorrow he demonstrates how to cook one of his most popular dishes.
City of Ate: What is the best dish you have eaten? Chamberlain: Two weeks ago, at a dive restaurant in Port O'Connor, Texas, some redfish me and some friends caught that afternoon, half fried and half griddled, with some hand-dipped onion rings, shrimp cocktail caught by the shrimper that owns the restaurant and loaded baked potatoes. Life does not get any better.
CofA: How long does it take to dress a hog, and how do you prepare the best cut? Chamberlain: For three chefs about 1 hour. One using the knife, one taking pictures (so we can prove to our wives that we actually do hunt), and one calling friends for dinner. A lot of people think the front shoulder is just stew meat, but actually it is the best tasting. Being a less tender cut, you start by seasoning, searing in a hot skillet and then covering with a rich stock with roasted mirepoix, wine, fresh herbs. Cover and simmer slowly in the oven for about four hours or until it is ready to fall off the bone. Place the remaining stock in a sauce pan, bring to simmer and skim off oil. Reduce to taste and thicken slightly with corn starch. Serve over Yukon mashed potatoes with some roasted root vegetables. It is the best pork you will eat in your life.
CofA: What do you serve the vegetarian guest? Chamberlain: Mostly we pull from the many vegetables we have in house, I find our roasted portabellas make for a great meaty meal. We drizzle them with our homemade Worcestershire sauce. Frankly, I could eat our tomato and mozzarella salad every night for an entree. Roasted vine ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, rough chopped basil leaves, roasted onions, extra virgin olive oil, reduce balsamic syrup, sea salt and coarse ground pepper.
CofA: What young Dallas chef would you like to see on Top Chef? Chamberlain: Of course I am biased, but my steakhouse chef Lan Nickens would blow any of those guys away. Actually, he would out cook any of the judges.
CofA: If you were not a chef, what career would you most likely have chosen? Chamberlain: I really like working with my hands, so probably a craftsman or artist of some type. I also like kids and athletics so possibly a coach or teacher.
CofA: What is the oddest customer request you have had lately? Chamberlain: We had a guest not long ago order a steak, not extra rare, but uncooked. I am a fan of tartar and carpaccio, but seeing a guy eat a raw 12-ounce fillet served on a cold plate was odd.
CofA: What would you pitch to the Food Network? Chamberlain: Having had a steakhouse for 17 years, I am known in most media circles as the meat guy. I would pitch the ultimate in meat cooking, like roasting a whole 20-pound prime short loin, heavy salt and pepper, aged for two months, for a party of 20 guest, eaten with no forks or plates, just a sharp knife and a huge bottle of Cabernet. Wow, you just gave me an idea for a dinner party.
CofA: What is one thing you hope to accomplish that you haven't yet? Chamberlain: One project I am working on that I hope eventually happens is a restaurant and training center for underprivileged young adults to teach them to be chefs. Growing up with little myself, my life could have gone down a rocky road. By finding a passion for cooking at a young age with a great mentor like Dean Fearing, I was able to find direction in my l life. I would like to see others have the same dream come true.
CofA: Do you have any food trend predictions? Chamberlain: I don't care for trendy, but I am very open to what my guest want and if it happens to be a trend, then it goes on the menu.
CofA: What exotic meat would you like to cook and how would you prepare the dish? Chamberlain: Not so much into exotic, but being from South Texas, would have not problem shooting (from a distance) and cooking a rattlesnake. I think it would make a mean Texas style cassoulet with some wild boar bacon thrown in.
CofA: What is the worst dish you have tasted? Chamberlain: Kobe burger at a local sports stadium.
CofA: If you could master one sport what would it be? Chamberlain: Golf. The only time I play is for charity tournaments and I am really bad.
CofA: What is the best music to cook by? Chamberlain: Classic Rewind rock on XM.