Rachel Yang can't say enough good things about Mark Schroder. Yes, she praises his palate and general culinary aptitude. But she says Schroder's also a guy who will pitch in washing dishes, or haul out a ladder and change a burned-out light bulb to make sure the restaurant looks its best when service starts. And if a writer asks him for a photo and he doesn't have one handy, he'll just whip out his phone and dispatch a pretty good-looking selfie.
Yang and husband Seif Chirchi have so much faith in Schroder that he will be the chef de cuisine at the couple's yet-unnamed new restaurant at 500 E Pike. The Illinois-born Schroder is so unenamored with titles that he had to go back and double check what his exact role would be at the new place.
Here, a few of Mark Schroder's favorite things.
Favorite item on the Joule menu: Smoked tofu.
Dish to make at home: When it's cold, any one-pot dish like beef stew or pork and cabbage soup. When it's hot, I grill everything.
Secret ingredient: Music. Music in the kitchen makes everything better.
Guilty pleasure: I stand behind all my pleasures, but for the sake of public embarassment....I like to put a can of chili and shredded cheese on anything, RUSH (the band), watching people fall (myself included), very bad action movies with Mark Wahlberg.
Place to drink on a day off: Home.
Breakfast dish: Last night's dinner.
Banned from your kitchen: At home, nothing I can think of. Maybe ants, but they're cool with me as long as I don't accidently eat one. I would never call work "my" kitchen, but I don't like salty cooks who don't want to get better or learn. I don't really like stinging nettles either. First of all, they used to sting me when I was young and would go swimming in the river or walking in the woods. They also taste like the color green and they are very disrespectful to prep cooks and dishwashers. I remember when they were becoming popular and the chef where I was working must have read about them somewhere and decided to order 20 pounds. He had obviously never worked with them because he gave them to the dishwashers to clean without giving them gloves! Yeah, me and nettles have got history.
Three things on your countertop right now: Salt, a cast iron skillet, a radio.
Being a white dude making Asian food is: Always a learning experience. It's crazy how much of the world's population is located in that region and how much variation there is. Us white dudes are a very small part the world's population, but we've dominated popular food culture. Also, most of the dishes do start with an Asian mindset but Rachel pulls ideas from everywhere.
Craziest work story that can be committed to print: I don't know. In kitchens everything seems crazy.