More guys taking a chance. Even if it's just a sandwich shop or whatever. Break out!... I think you should train staff to run your kitchen, whether for a number of months or years, and then send them on their way. It's great for the scene and for the community. Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic.
Is it that important for chefs to have a place of their own?
Not everybody is an entrepreneur, but if you have creativity as a chef, you should find an avenue to explore it.
With the increase of high-stakes corporate-backed restaurants, those avenues can't be getting easier to find.
Yeah, in the '80s and '90s, you would have hotels open up restaurants and they wouldn't really know what to do, so they'd hire a chef to craft the cuisine. Now it's "We're putting in a SushiSamba here." So you don't have that blank slate anymore, and it's actually sad.
You went on a self-described "20-state romp" across the country with your daughters (ages 6 and 12) last summer, and you returned very high on Charleston's dining scene.
We stopped there for a night — I wish I had three — and I walked around to the James Beard-nominated restaurant Fig, three other restaurants, an oyster bar — on foot, like I was in the Village. The hospitality — and industry cohesion — was amazing. I was sitting around with some waiters, bartenders, cooks at this one place, and they were so proud of their fellow industry people: "That chef is great, and you should check this other place out." These were restaurants talking about other restaurants!
You like the food trucks going around?
I think they're great. I may do it myself. I see an oyster empanada...
Visit our food blog, Short Order, for the full two-part interview with Wessel.