Chef Val Stryjewski Looks Set For Long Term Relationship After Landing At Prohibition Taproom

B: What’s the biggest thing here, up front, that tells you this place is a good match.
V: The biggest thing was actually just sitting down with Michael, the owner. Him and I—it was one of those scenarios that reminded me of when I met Scott[Coudriet] from Lloyd. What was supposed to be a formal interview that was only supposed to last a short period of time, turned into an hour and a half conversation that was just completely random and all over the place. We were just two nerds talking about shit that we’re really into. We have much in common and we see a lot of things the same way . When you connect with someone on that friend level, suddenly it’s like, within twenty minutes, I’m not talking to somebody who’s the owner of a restaurant company that I’m trying to get a job with—I’m having coffee with a really cool dude and just getting along. What he sees for his company and what I want out of it is identical. Here’s the thing—I don’t want to job hop. I want this to be my last first date.

B: How would you describe your food?
V: A lot of it is mood oriented. Sometimes my food is glutonous, completely absurd, and gregarious. Sometimes, it’s simple and clean. Sometimes it’s just really silly and goofy. I take food very seriously and I don’t take food seriously. Food should be fun. It should be enjoyable. You know when you’re really hungover and you go to your favorite pho spot and your face doesn’t lift out of the bowl until it’s empty—that’s what food should be to everybody. That! I cook to feed people. When I was younger, I cooked for my ego. Now, I try to act like a little Italian grandmother who loves to stuff people with food all day.
B: Can you name a dish that speaks to that mentality?
V: The choucrute definitely, because that’s just wholesome, country cooking.
B: Perfect for winter.
V: I was walking here this morning and I was like, goddamn, I just want a bowl of it right now. I have it at home. I have a bag of it [the sauerkraut] and a pack of beef hot dogs from Kensington Quarters. I’ll probably go home and steam the hot dogs in the ‘crute, throw it on a bun with some mustard and I’ll eat that. My last day at Kensington Quarters, I did staff meal and I did hot dogs with choucrute. I got some kraut, I braised it down with beer and wine and bacon. Steamed hot dogs in it and made potatoes, and just set everybody up with choucrute dogs and the kitchen was stoked.

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