Culinary Mavericks: Cooking Up Knockout Collaborations in Toledo

. April 19, 2017.
(L-R) Steven and Dustin arm wrestle. Matt and Sean cheer them on in the back.  Photo Credit: Nick Amrhein.
(L-R) Steven and Dustin arm wrestle. Matt and Sean cheer them on in the back. Photo Credit: Nick Amrhein.

What does it take to stand out as a chef in a city saturated with restaurants? If you’re a culinary maverick, getting noticed comes naturally. these Toledo chefs balance competition with collaboration. Rivals? Maybe. Adversaries? Not. Local chefs are allies, collaborating to keep Toledo’s culinary industry cooking.

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Steven Auxter

The Oliver House
27 Broadway St., 419-243-1302. mbaybrew.com

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
I love the numerous Asian and Middle Eastern markets that Toledo has to offer. Plenty of ingredients I am familiar with, but plenty I’m like “what the hell, let’s try it.”

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Improvisational couture. My favorite thing to do is to go to someone’s house and use mostly what they have on hand to make something exceptional and high end.

Something I could happily eat every day of my life is:
Ice cream and gelato— hands down, no question. I could live off the stuff. It has to be the real stuff, though, egg yolks and no thickeners or binders.

Who taught you how to cook?
My dad, who was always experimenting and trying new things while I was growing up.

Who are your biggest local influences?
Erika Rapp from Registry Bistro and Kengo from Kengo Sushi & Yakitori. I’ve followed Erika for years and Kengo since I’ve been in town.

Chef Sean Moran

Shortys True American Roadhouse
5111 Monroe St., 419-841-9505. Mancys.com

What did you have for dinner last night?
Braised pork roast lettuce wraps.

Something I could happily eat every day of my life is:
Marco’s Pizza.

My secret weapon is:
A 10 inch Wusthof Chef’s Knife.

What local chef do you admire the most?
Truly I can’t pick one chef that I admire the most because we have so many great local chefs in Toledo, and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one when they all have their own unique characteristics, and cooking techniques.

How did you really learn not to touch a hot stove?
I still haven’t learned.

Dustin Schoenhofer

Head Chef of Barr’s Public House
3355 Briarfield Blvd. Ste C, Maumee, OH. 419-866-8466. barrspublichouse.com

Every meal should have:
Balance and consistency.

How do you stay inspired?
Traveling six months out of the year and trying as much different food as I can. All the years of world traveling that gave me the opportunities to expand my palette.

Who taught you how to cook?
The late Chef Claude Estep of the former Dyer’s Chop House.

What local chef do you admire the most?
Chef Tony House (NINE Restaurant). We came up together and he’s always pushing the limits of creativity.

Most unique pairing you’ve offered at your restaurant?
Seared scallop and truffle deviled eggs with radish microgreens.

Matt Lawrence

Chef at Mancy’s Italian Grill
5453 Monroe St., 419-882-9229. Mancys.com

What did you have for dinner last night?
Toasted everything bagel sandwich: cream cheese, baked salami, colby cheese, and spicy pickled green tomatoes.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Controlled chaos with a pinch of finesse.

My secret weapon is:
Stamina, great work ethic and my unwillingness to ever stop trying to get better.

How do you stay inspired?
By eating at and keeping tabs on other trendy restaurants.

My go-to meal to make at home is:
Normally anything quick, easy and not messy. I don’t want to come home from work and do more work.

Steve Smith

Executive Chef at Mancy’s Bluewater Grille
461 W. Dussel Dr., Maumee. 419-724-5283. Mancys.com

What did you have for dinner last night?
I ate Great Grains cereal because I’m “too old for sugar cereal.”

My go-to meal to make at home is:
Balance of texture, flavors and color

My go to meal at home?
Homemade pasta and red sauce.

What was a defining moment in your life?
Moving to Pittsburgh and Pinehurst and experiencing new people and food.

(L-R) HoChan, Micheal, Andi, Matthew, Erika and Carlos.

(L-R) HoChan, Micheal, Andi, Matthew, Erika and Carlos.

HoChan Jang

Co-Founder & Head Chef of Balance Grille
Sylvania: 5860 W. Central Ave., 419-578-7777
Maumee: 514 The Boulevard, 419-893-9999
Perryburg: 26520 N. Dixie Hwy., 419-874-7777
balancegrille.com

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
Riehm Farms and Shared Legacy.

Every meal should have:
A variety of colors.

The kitchen tool I can’t live without:
A super sharp 10 inch chef knife.

How do you stay inspired?
By the community of other chefs around us.

Who are your biggest local influences?
Rob Campbell (Revolution Grille), Kengo Kato (Kengo Sushi & Yakitori) and Erika Rapp (Registry Bistro).

Michael Rosendaul

Executive Chef at Mancy’s Steakhouse
953 Phillips Ave., 419-476-4154. Mancys.com

My secret weapon is:
The ability to withstand extreme load of stress.

Who taught you how to cook?
My Chef Mentor was Chef Simon Pesusich. He spent two years training me as the Chef of Ciao! when it opened. I was the Kitchen Manager until one day he called me “Chef Mike”.

What was a defining moment in your culinary life?
After I graduating from the University of Toledo with a BS in engineering, I made the insane decision that I would pursue a culinary career. My twisted logic was: “I could not see myself cooking for a hobby, it was too much of who I was.” Countless burns, cuts, knee surgery, back problems and completely destroyed feet… I am afraid I still love it. It just doesn’t make sense.

How did you really learn not to touch a hot stove?
I have not learned that. You can ask my wife. She will confirm.

What local chef do you admire the most?
That is a hard one.. I could never pick one. I am fortunate to know some of the best chefs in the area, and regularly meet new very talented people. The level of talent continues to expand and they raise the bar. That keeps me pushing to do more and more.

Andi Lawrence

Chef/Owner of Foodology
2059 W. Laskey Rd., 567-970-7100. foodologytoledo.com

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
Toledo has a great Farmer’s Market and I’ve found several local products that I can’t live without. One of my favorites is Honey Goat Cheese from Turkeyfoot Creek Creamery in Wauseon, OH.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
As a chef instructor, my cooking style is either shock and awe or damage control!

The kitchen tool I can’t live without:
My immersion blender.

What advice would you give to the younger you?
Don’t cut corners. It ends up making a mess of things in the long run.

To feel inspired, I dine at:
Revolution Grille or Fowl and Fodder. Both have a
great mix of classical, modern and local.

Matthew Salgado

Chef and owner of The Displaced Chef Latin Cuisine
186 E. S. Boundary St., Perrysburg. 419-873-7388. thedisplacedchef.com

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
Farmers Markets. My favorite thing to buy is any unique produce.

Who taught you how to cook?
My Cuban Grandma and my brother.

What advice would you give to the younger you?
Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.

What skill has another local chef mastered 
that you are envious of?
Rolling sushi.

What local chef do you admire the most?
Jeff Dinnebeil, Executive Chef at Perrysburg’s Social Gastropub.

Erika Rapp

Chef and owner of Registry Bistro
144 N. Superior St., 419-725-0444. Registrybistro.com

Who taught you how to cook?
My first chef, Chef Jim Alleman, who is now retired. I ended up in his kitchen by chance at Maumee Bay State Park when I was sixteen. It was my first job and he made me fall in love with cooking and he had the patience of a saint.

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
I love shopping at all of the ethnic markets we are lucky to have. I’m at the Toledo Market on Dorr St., and Lai Lai Asian Market on Central Ave. every week.

What skill has another local chef
mastered that you are envious of?

Chef Kengo Kato’s knife skills are stunning.

The most underrated ingredient is:
Vinegar. I add vinegar or “acid” to everything. It brightens up a dish and pulls out the flavors that are hiding.

They key to ordering well is:
Trust the chef. Even it may be a little out of your comfort zone. Trust the chef, we obsess and lose sleep over how a dish will taste with every little ingredient working together. We are always happy to make a whatever adjustments you would like and prepare you meal to your preference. But if you trust us, we may introduce you to a new experience you haven’t had.

Carlos Mendez

Owner of Cocina de Carlos and Carlos Poco Loco
Cocina de Carlos:
27072 Carronade Dr., Perrysburg. 419-872-0200. 
205 Farnsworth Rd., Waterville. 419-878-0200. cocinadecarlos.com
Carlos Poco Loco: 1809 Adams St., 419-214-1655. carlospocoloco.com

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
Al Peake and Sam O’Kun.

Something I could happily eat every day of my life is:
Ceviche and Al Pastor Tacos.

Who taught you how to cook?
My Dad, Don Charly. I got my start with him when I was sixteen and our Pineapple Don Charly is named after him.

To feel inspired, I dine at:
Small local restaurants, like Poco Piatti and Balance Grill. Balance’s Mongo Tacos with Blue Tortillas is one of the most unique pairings I’ve experienced at another local restaurant.

Every meal should have:
Chiles— I love Hot Peppers!!!!

topchef3

(L-R) Jason, Rob and Saif.

Jason Cho

Chef at Kyoto Ka Central
6801 W. Central Ave., 419-841-2070, kyotoka.com

The kitchen tool I can’t live without:
In the kitchen: Nakiri, which is my knife for cutting vegetables. At the Sushi bar: Yanagi, which is knife for cutting fish into pieces.

How do you stay inspired?
By searching signature dish of other chefs around the world.

Who taught you how to cook?
My father (Chef Joe) taught me how to become a Sushi Chef.

What advice would you give to the younger you?
Travel around, experience and learn from different places around the world, broaden your point of view.

Who are your biggest local influences?
Mancy’s family owned restaurants.

Rob Campbell

Managing Partner and Executive Chef of Revolution Grille
5333 Monroe St. 419-841-0066. revolutiongrille.com

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
Riehm Farms.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Cheffed up comfort food.

The kitchen tool I can’t live without:
My Sous Chef DJ Narges.

My go-to meal to make at home is:
PBR.

My favorite thing to buy at a farmer’s market is:
Holey Toledough Donuts.

Saif Dari

Owner and operator of ZaZa Wood-Fired Pizza
3550 Executive Pkwy., 734-846-1329. zazawoodfiredpizza.com

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
Middle East Market.

What did you have for dinner last night?
Tortellini quattro formaggi tossed in red and white sauce.

Who taught you how to cook?
My Italian friend, Chef Arturo, from the Venice area that I worked with him when I lived in Italy.

How do you stay inspired?
Trying different styles of restaurants.

Every meal should have:
Passion and a love for cooking.

(L-R) Labib, Elias, Maher, Ziad and Riad.

(L-R) Labib, Elias, Maher, Ziad and Riad.

Elias Hajjar

Owner & Chef of Poco Piatti
3155 Chappel Dr., Perrysburg, OH. 419-931-0281. pocopiatti.com

Something I could happily eat every day of my life is:
Tabbouli.

Who taught you how to cook?
My parents and family (who opened The Beirut and Byblos restaurants).

Who are your biggest local influences?
My father and uncles. To be dedicated to one mission and to execute it for almost 40 years is very special. Especially with how much this industry changes. Not only food trends but staffing as well. We are very blessed to be have the most dedicated staff and community. We have over 12 kitchen members that work on the lines everyday and have done so for over ten years, and eight who have done the same for over 25 years. They are the only reason we are able to maintain the level of excellency and consistency that we do. We are family first.

What advice would you give to the younger you?
Slow down.

topchef6

(L-R) Bill, Tony (sitting in front), Marcel (sitting in back), Mikeal and Scott.

Chef Bill Kolhoff

Walt Churchill’s Market
3320 Briarfield Blvd., Maumee. 419-794-4000.
26625 N. Dixie Hwy., Perrysburg. 419-872-6900.
Waltchurchillsmarket.com

What did you have for dinner last night?
Tea smoked duck from Jing Chuan, which I shared with my cat, Simone.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Always learning, always exploring. Understanding the culture from which cuisines evolve and channeling that to the plate. Being proactive rather than reactive.

Every meal should have:
Good food. Good wine. Good music. Good conversation

My secret weapon is:
Perseverance. (Or, stubbornness?)

What local chef do you admire the most?
Chef George (and Chris) at Georgio’s, keeper’s of the flame.

Tony Bilancini

Owner, operator and team member of Swig
219 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 419-873-6223. Swigrestaurant.com

What did you have for dinner last night?
Chicken wings. I could happily eat them
every day for the rest of life.

Every meal should have:
Conversation.

Most unique pairing you’ve offered at your restaurant?
We offered Kangaroo and select craft beers a few years back. I couldn’t get past that I was eating a kangaroo so I couldn’t eat it. I’m not very good with rabbits, either.

What local chef do you admire the most?
Executive chef John D’Amico of Vermillion’s Chez Francois.

How did you really learn not to touch a hot stove?
I pushed myself up onto a stove as a kid to grab the “butter salt” for some popcorn and ended up with a concentric brand on the palm of my hand from a hot burner.

Marcel Hesseling

Executive Chef of Champions at Brandywine Country Club
6904 Salisbury Rd., Maumee. 419-865-2393. brandywinecc.com

How would you describe your style of cooking?
I have been fortunate to have travelled the world for work quite a bit. I have learned many cuisines and cultures in conjunction with my former training at a culinary school in traditional French in the Netherlands. I’m willing to tackle any style and love the opportunity to.

Who taught you how to cook?
Of course my mom started it all, but every Chef/Cook gets formed by lots of others. I have been lucky enough to have been influenced by several amazing Chefs as mentors.

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
Bersee & Utz Heirloom Farm in Waterville. They are herbicide and pesticide free and have been wonderful to work with in the past.

The kitchen tool I can’t live without:
Although they are not a “tool”, our team is one of our biggest tools to success. I couldn’t do it without them! Besides that, a very sharp Chef’s Knife!

Most unique pairing you’ve offered at your restaurant?
In the past I have done sautéed wild rabbit tenderloins wrapped in prosciutto served on braised red cabbage with apple, mashed Yukon potato and a dark chocolate demi-glaze. Currently we are featuring an Ahi tuna steak encrusted with sesame seeds and seasoning, served with a wasabi-soy glaze.

Mikeal Gentry

Executive Sous Chef at Ye Olde Durty Bird
2 S. St. Clair St., 419-243-2473. yeoldedurtybird.com

What did you have for dinner last night?
Chicken fettuccini with broccoli.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Fast and organized.

How do you stay inspired?
Desire to succeed.

The Toledoan I would love to cook for is:
Crystal Bowersox.

My go-to meal to make at home is:
Pork roast.

Scott Bowman

Chef and Owner of Fowl & Fodder
7408 W. Central Ave., 419-690-2490. Fowlandfodder.com

The kitchen tool I can’t live without:
My Nakiri Knife.

My go-to meal to make at home is:
scrambled eggs with fresh herbs.

My favorite thing to buy at a farmer’s market is:
Really fresh bread.

Something I could happily eat every day of my life is:
Pistachios.

The Toledoans I would love to cook for are:
The volunteers at TUC Garden.

Matt. Photo Credit: Kelli Miller.

Jason. Photo Credit: Kelli Miller.

Chef Jason Peelor

Ciao! Ristorante
6064 Monroe St., Sylvania. 419-882-2234. ciaorestaurant.com

Kitchen tool I can’t live without:
A well balanced large chef”s knife that fits comfortably in your hand. Precise knife cuts will make your food cook better and look better.

My secret weapon is:
Fresh herbs from the herb garden. They bring such freshness and flavor to whatever you are making.. We have a big herb garden at Ciao! to keep everything as fresh as possible.

Who taught you how to cook?
No one single person. I try to learn at least one thing from everyone I have ever worked with. So, I guess you could say that I have had hundreds of instructors, each bringing a different approach to cooking.

How did you really learn not to touch a hot stove?
My first job, at age fifteen, was at McDonald’s. I grabbed a hot tray from the oven with my bare hands. Lesson learned.

The person I love to cook for is:
My wife, Jennifer. She is the love of my life, and that love always comes through whenever I cook something for her.

Patrick and Doug. Photo Credit: Kelli Miller.

Patrick and Doug. Photo Credit: Kelli Miller.

Patrick Borucki and Doug Walker

Co-chefs at Black Carnation
Dinners served at Vistula City Club
1447 N. Summit St.
blackcarnationtol.com

The kitchen tool I can’t live without:
Spoons.

The most underrated ingredient is:
Vinegar.

How do you stay inspired?
If you are passionate about what you do, it’s easy. There isn’t any go-to or trick to stay inspired.

Who taught you how to cook?
Justin Thomas (M Osteria). His middle name is Patience.

What skill has another local chef mastered
that you are envious of?

Ben Tipping (M Osteria) can emulsify water and butter really fast in large quantities. He throws Thomas Keller’s technique out the window.

ginos

Chuck. Photo Credit: Kelli Miller.

Chuck Kreutz

Gino’s Pizza
originalginos.com

What’s your favorite local place to source ingredients from?
Sofo Foods.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Simple-rustic.

The key to ordering well is:
Order often.

How do you stay inspired?
Constantly read menus to learn about trends
from across the country

I got my start:
With a lemonade stand.

 

Chenchuan. Photo Credit: Kelli Miller.

Chenchuan. Photo Credit: Kelli Miller.

Chenchuan Wu

Sushi Chef at Hong Kong Buffet
3015 Glendale Ave. Suite 300, 419-389-1888. toledohongkongbuffet.com

Every meal should have:
Seaweed.

The kitchen tool I can’t live without:
My sushi knife.

My go-to meal to make at home is:
Noodles.

Something I could happily eat every day of my life is:
Rice.

To feel inspired, I dine at:
Soft music and a quiet place.

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