You Like This: Featuring Chef Richard Graff of Meddlesome Moth and Beer Pickles

Welcome to "You Like This," in which we ask chefs two questions: 1) What's the best-selling dish at your restaurant? and 2) What's your favorite dish at your restaurant? We hope the answer to the first question will open your eyes to the fan favorites and the Dallas palate and that perhaps the answer to that second question will inspire you to go out on a kickass food limb once in a while. This week's You Like This features chef Richard Graff and Meddlesome Moth.

Hey chef! What's the best-selling dish at Meddlesome Moth?

As a chef, I am not usually too concerned with P-mix (product mix) reports on a daily basis and leave that obsession to the corporate management types. At Meddlesome Moth, I do review them occasionally if I need to fine-tune prep quantities or during menu changes. However, I prefer to take a more holistic “touchy feely” approach regarding the mix of dishes we sell. I get involved with what and how much the prep and line cooks are working on and monitoring the pass and seeing what is going out to the customers and talking with them, getting their feedback. With that being said and tasked with writing an article about our best-selling dish versus my favorite dish, I fired up my laptop and ran a P-mix report.

When I started as the chef, our hummus and pita plate was by far the biggest selling dish, week after week and month after month. The reasons were obvious: The price point and the ease as a starter in the shared plate concept we have at Meddlesome Moth drove the sales of the dish. In light of this, I was very surprised to see that our burger was now decidedly the biggest selling dish on our menu. In retrospect it may not be so surprising, as one of the strongest comments I received from our staff and customers when I started last August was about the type and quality of our beef.

A big component of my first menu change centered on using grass-fed natural beef from the local Texas ranch, 44Farms, and the ground chuck we use for the burger was part of that. We cook our burger on a griddle, which helps keep the meat moist instead of getting dried out on a grill, and our buns are delivered freshly and made every day from Empire bakery. Another change I made was presentation: I feel a burger should be presented in a manner that makes you want to immediately take it in hand and take that first juicy bite, feeling the juices running down the sides of your mouth. We had been serving the burger open faced (top bun on the side) and the customer had to fuss with it and finish assembling before taking that first bite. I felt it wasn’t visually appealing and the extra work took away from the immediate first experience. The final piece of the puzzle was the fries — after all, what is a good burger without a good fry? I worked with our purveyors on potato samples, as we cut and blanch our own fries at Meddlesome Moth. We found the potato we now use and then fine-tuned the blanching and prep process with our cooks for a consistent, crispy fry.

What's your favorite dish at Meddlesome Moth right now?

My favorite dish at Meddlesome Moth would have to be our Hungry Farmer, a fusion of a charcuterie plate and a cheese plate. I like to “nosh” and have a hard time eating big meals anymore, which started when I became a cook and chef (I have to taste things all day) so plates like our Hungry Farmer are right up my alley. As a cook starting out, I was always fascinated with making house-made cured meats, pickles and condiments. It’s a lot of work, and the chefs I worked for were more than happy to indulge my passion, partly for the prestige of offering house-made items and partly because they didn’t have to do the work, which can be tedious and exhausting. We pick cheeses ranging from hard to soft and change them up weekly so they are not always the same. The only cured meats we source out are prosciutto di parma and an aged salami as these require conditions and space we don’t have at the restaurant. We rotate around various quick cure and cooked meats such as house-made rillettes of rabbit, pork and salmon, as well as duck breast cured ham, country pork pâté, chicken liver pâté and foie gras torchon.

I also have a mild pickle obsession and all the pickles we use except one are house made. Baby carrots, Kirby cucumbers, cipollini onions, green beans, red onions, fennel and the list goes on. Recently I have gotten into pickling with beer, which is a natural for us considering we are craft beer-centric. I just finished a batch of IPA beer pickles that were so good that after a little tweaking they might turn out to be a signature item at Meddlesome Moth.

Did you hear that? BEER PICKLES, PEOPLE. I cannot wait to order me a Hungry Farmer with a side of some peerckles. Go to Meddlesome Moth and try some of their house-cured meats. You won't be sad about it. You like this.

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