Meet Chef Chad Crete of Whiskey Bird and now, Little Bird, the restaurant's new takeout concept! We asked him a few questions about his culinary style, Whiskey Bird, and his advice for home cooks. Chef Chad's Chili Crisp Salmon meal kit and Frosmopolitan cocktail kit are on the menu through Thursday 7/22.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I'd say my cooking style is very ingredient driven, just as many other chefs. However, I always like to source out unique ingredients for recipes to make them different and unique. Perfect example is using the Chili Crisp in a classic vinaigrette to give a dish a distinct flavor/pop that many people would not think of. After All we've got to do something different with our recipes that many wouldn't recreate at home.
How did Whiskey Bird come to be, and how has it evolved since you opened?
Whiskey Bird was created over the course of a couple years between Anthony and I after we had just come back from a 3 week trip in Southeast Asia. I had cooked Spanish and Italian cuisine for the previous 5 years and knew my next venture would not be that. So once we came back from our trip in Asia, we began planning Whiskey Bird as a unique restaurant that would offer yakitori, small plates, and entrees. It has very much evolved over the course of the last 4 1/2 years from what we envisioned and initially set out to create. That is very much a part of being a neighborhood restaurant. As much as you may have a vision and a concept, in order to survive you have to adapt and evolve with what your clientele is gravitating towards. Unlike movies where you write the script and launch the movie into the public, restaurants are very much constantly evolving, changing, complex businesses that eventually form into their own over time.
What has most shaped who you are as a chef?
What has most shaped me as a chef is the need to continually evolve and adapt to your clientelle/neighborhood. A lot of chefs want to create food for themselves, but in order to be successful you ultimately need to listen to your audience and adapt. We never had a burger or a fish sandwich on our menu, but now they are two of the top selling dishes. People like familiarity, but we still manage to give those offerings with our own unique twists with sauces, seasonings, etc that you wouldn't find elsewhere. So if that's what people want, I'll strive to give them my best version of those familiar items.
What is the best meal you’ve ever had?
As a founding partner of Iberian Pig I was fortunate enough to take several trips to Spain and eat some incredible food. Once too much in one day. No one really has the stomach to eat 6 Michelin stars in one day, but for us it was the only way to fit them both of them into our itinerary. Outside of that trip however, my most memorable dining experience was at Asador Etxebarri in the Basque region of Spain. It was so simple, ingredient driven, and spectacular.
What do you do when you aren’t cooking?
When I'm not in the restaurant I enjoy spending time with my dog Sadie, going hiking and being outdoors as much as possible. Even better if its near a body of water.
If you could give one piece of advice to a home chef, what would it be?
You do not need a lot of pots and pans or knives. Invest in a few good pieces like a cast iron, good cutting board, chef's knife. You can pretty much do anything you need from there.
If you were a fruit or vegetable what would you be and why?
Would have to say potato. They are probably the most versatile and available and you can create a lot of different dishes with that one spud/varietals of spud.