…concluding Real Talk – The Chef Series with our final installment, part 8.
THD: What do you think is the next thing? What’s the next trend? What’s the next explosion, whether it’s here, whether it’s throughout the country, throughout the world?
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: Trends are trends, man. Trends die, that’s why we’re all classical cooks. We all cook.
THD: There’s got to be a next thing, though. I mean–
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: There always is a next thing, of course there is. But that’s going to die out and put you out of a job.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: Oh, I think there’s definitely–when the economy crashed or took a big dip in like 2009 or 2010, I remember talking with a chef who said, “You’re going to see now a lot of comfort food become more of”–“it’s going to really become a big thing.”
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: It was affordable.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: I mean, I was in one of the greatest restaurants in Chicago and we were–they were nice, I was getting sent home at four o’clock, you know what I mean?
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: Right.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: Because we just didn’t have anybody in because nobody could afford to eat what we were serving.
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: Yeah, right.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: So people brought the food down. But now you see the big trend is, which again, I think the farming table’s amazing, that’s like one of my favorite things, but it’s farming table comfort, so I don’t know if we’re going–there will be–I think a lot of it depends on the economy, how the economy goes. If the economy continues to tank, I think you’re going to see even more places kind of like this, tacos, but something affordable but that’s done with craftsmanship–
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: Yeah.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: –you know what I mean?
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: Fresh ingredients.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: And I think–but if the economy grows again, you’re probably going to see some uber fine dining.
CHEF DOUGLAS HEWITT: No, I’m with you. I think the local, seasonal, a lot of relationships with your farms so you can keep it affordable. I think like–a lot of like coarse ground sausage versus the air dried sausage, a lot of like, you know, braised meats versus the nice cuts. I mean, just like peasant food.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: All the awesome stuff that nobody wants.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: Everything that we like.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: Pretty much everything that we love.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: But at the same time I think local, seasonal, and farming table is a calibration. It’s not going–that’s not going away.
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: That’s a standard.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: And I hope it does, and I hope it doesn’t.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: Because it was the way for 20,000 years. We got away from it for like the last 50 and now it’s coming back. So that’s a calibration. I think a trend you’re going to see is peasant food, and that’s been a slow trend because you look at Daniel Boulud, you look at Thomas Keller, what the fuck are they doing? They’re doing trotters, they’re doing sweet breads, those are fucking feet and glands, man, and that doesn’t get more of peasant than that. Peasant food, I think you’re going to see that at Mitchell’s and, like, you know, Flemings, you’re going–
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: You’re going to have cassoulet night.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: –yeah, you’re going to see cassoulet, and sweet breads and grilled cheese.
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: Country pâté.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: I’m not quite sure about that one.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: I’m telling you in the next 10 to 20 years–
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: I don’t know if Mitchell’s will.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: I’m telling you, you’re going to see that shit. You’re going to see–
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: Really? Really?
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: –peasant food get mainstreamed. Dude, it’s going to be–
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: I think a little bit.
CHEF BRENNAN CALNIN: I got to put money on it.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: It’s going to be hip to be eating fucking liver and pig’s cheeks–
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: Yeah.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: –in the next, like, 20 years, and that’s–
CHEF DOUGLAS HEWITT: That’s me right now.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: –and that’s when we resort back to, like, fucking sirloin and, like–
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: Because of marketing.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: No, yeah, because it’s–now cheeks are $25 a pound and you can’t find a hock to save your life.
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: We’re going to be opening a Texas Roadhouse.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: Now we’re back to fine dining–
THD: We’re going to be listening to Garth Brooks.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: Yeah. That’s our retirement. Don’t fuck with me, that’s my retirement.
THD: I’m going to go into Novi and throw peanut shells on the ground.
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: We’re going to have signature sirloins with shrimp scampi’s.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: I love it. Prove it.
CHEF JEREMY KALMUS: It’s going to be sick.
CHEF JAMES RIGATO: Prove it.
Chef James Rigato is Executive Chef at The Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake, MI, and a contestant on Bravo TV’s Top Chef, Season 12 in Boston, MA. In 2012, Chef Rigato was nominated for the Food & Wine “The People’s Best New Chef: Great Lakes” and took home the Restaurant of the Year Award, for the Root, by The Detroit Free Press. He was voted as Best Chef by Hour Detroit in 2013 and again in 2014. Chef Rigato is also known for his “Young Guns” collaborative dinner series, which has been brought together six times.
Chef Jeremy Kalmus is the owner/chef of the new event and catering company Rock ‘N Roll + Caviar, formerly Executive Chef at Local Kitchen and Bar in Ferndale, MI, and NOVI Chop House in NOVI, MI.
Chef Douglas Hewitt, formerly Executive Chef at Terry B’s Restaurant and Bar in Dexter, MI is now taking over the kitchen at the upcoming Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails in Detroit, MI.
Chef Brennan Calnin is the Executive Chef at Imperial Mexican Restaurant & Bar and at the Public House, both in Ferndale, MI.
The interviews in this series were conducted by VATO.