The kitchen is unlike any other workplace out there. You can yell at your coworkers, you get paid to play with fire, and in some cases, it’s totally acceptable to take a nip of something boozy in the middle of your shift. This may be part of the chef archetype, sold to us in fancy movies and documentaries about world-famous culinarians, but make no mistake: food and alcohol are and always will be intertwined.
So we asked some of Dallas’ best chefs what they indulge in when they’re on (and off) the clock. Surprisingly, most of our favorite chefs are totally straight-edge during shift, and save all the party for the aftermath.
Misti Norris, Small Brewpub
“We don’t normally drink,” says Small Brewpub’s Misti Norris. “But if we do, it’s at the very end of the night, and usually we’re all drinking our Black Pepper Pilsner, or whatever new beer we’ve just put on.” Must be nice to have an endless supply of freshly brewed beer to imbibe after a particularly long shift.
Nick Amoriello, Rapscallion
Now that he’s planning to helm one of Lower Greenville’s highly anticipated new restaurants in Rapscallion, Nick Amoriello is going to have to focus on launching a brand new kitchen. “I never drink in the kitchen during service. After service, an ice cold Lone Star.”
Jeff Bekavac, Neighborhood Services
Even though he’s serving up some pretty swanky food, Neighborhood Services’ Jeff Bekavac’s own drinking tastes have a pleasant little hint of trashiness. “No way. I'm usually deep in the water and espresso during the shift. Way too much to focus on while we are cooking,” he says. “After the shift, who knows. Old fashioned, Negroni, Coors original, Pearl light. It all depends on how the night goes.” We’re guessing that those yellow cans of Coors original are reserved for the particularly in-the-shits nights. Bekavac is also a huge fan of a cocktail created with Neighborhood Services owner Nick Badovinus, and made with Austin East Ciders Original, Buffalo Trace bourbon, and a little ginger beer. It's not on the menu, he says, but the bartenders know exactly how to make it.
Brian Luscher, The Grape & Luscher’s
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Brian Luscher’s refusal to drink during service has everything to do with the practicality of running a busy kitchen. “No matter what, whomever is drinking always gets out of control. Inevitably, some bullshit happens. I've had to let some of my very favorite people go because they got 'housed during service,” he says. “Total straight-core here. I think we've all had our close calls. What's wrong with a drink? Sure, I'll have another.”
“Next thing you know you're volunteering to take the trash out so you can do some one-hitters behind the dumpsters with the bartender. Then, you know, while you're up, tap that whipped cream dispenser while you're "helping" clean out the pantry cooler...not that I would know anything about that type of thing. It must always wait until after the work is done or else you're done working.” As a result, Luscher’s “no drinking alcohol during service” rule is pretty hard and fast. “I do like a cranberry, soda, lime, splash of 7-up. Only one or two bartenders get it right. A million years ago, it would've been an Absolut-cran-lime.”
Brian Zenner, The Mitchell & On Premise
Brian Zenner is pretty straight-up about his occasional kitchen martinis, however rare they may be. “Vodka martini, stirred not shaken, no ice chips, two olives, and some vermouth.” Even though Zenner’s martini recipe is a little bit persnickety, he also requires that it be served in a coffee cup, like a legit lush. “It takes a pretty good (or bad) night to earn one of those,” he says.