Chef Spotlight: Q and A
Name: Andrew Wildermuth
Residence: Davenport, Iowa
Position: Executive Chef
Q: What is your Signature Dish?
A: Being a chef gives me the opportunity to dabble, play and create. Chicken Tortellini Portabella, Chef Andy’s Rigatoni, and the Chicken Burger Club have been some of my signatures, but now I am working on new tapas.
Q: What is your food philosophy or mentality?
A: My food philosophy is to keep it simple and fresh. Too many steps leave room for error. Homemade is great and tastes great.
Q: What is in your refrigerator at home?
A: With 5 and 6 year old children there is a lot of BBQ sauce, ketchup, and ranch. There are a lot of grown up condiments that I like to experiment with, like new seasonings and sauces. The adult beverages are there along with the kids’ juice boxes.
Q: What kind of food do you serve your family?
A: We like to grill – steaks, pork chops and chicken – but with the little ones it needs to be quick. We host holiday get-togethers and birthday parties with friends and family and usually I make something I am testing for the restaurant. I guess my friends and family are the guinea pigs!
Q: Name anyone that you would like to have cook for you and what you would ask them to cook.
A: After watching Chef Jose Andre’s documentary, I truly think he is amazing. He is leading a new wave of chefs and using innovative techniques like nitrogen and cotton candy. I made reservations to go to his restaurant, The Bazaar, in Los Angeles. So exciting!!
Also, Chef Paul Prudhome, the “Godfather of Cajun Cuisine.” He can whip me up anything and I know it would be GREAT!
Q: Where do you get your ingredients?
A: Sometimes from my garden, local farmers or local purveyors.
Q: What is your comfort food?
A: Our Homestyle Pot Roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and celery. Hot dogs with homemade macaroni and cheese.
Q: What would be on the menu for your ‘Last Supper?’
A: Mom Jan’s Lasagna, my late Grandma Darwin’s Homemade Rolls, Brother Ron’s Salsa, Wife Kendra’s company and finish it off with unconditional love from my sons Gavin and Gage.
Q: Tell us one of your kitchen failures as a chef.
A: You always have a flub here and there. There is not just one. Whether it is going to a catering and always forgetting something or the oven goes out on a busy night. The one that always sticks with me is when we opened Thunder Bay Grille. We had a wood-fired grill and one of our first nights the power went out. With no exhaust fans, the smoke was filling the kitchen. The only way to get the grill outside was to go out the front door, and right past the waiting guests we went. We finished the night cooking outside.
Q: What is the most exotic dish you have served?
A: Farm-raised Ostrich from Monroe, Iowa. Also, every year at our Rajun Cajun Mardi Gras event I serve Gator: gumbo, stir fry, fritters or rotisserie.
Q: Who is the most famous person you served and what did you serve them?
A: Conway Twitty came to River City Cafe and had Jambalaya. Chely Wright came to Planted Earth Cafe and she had the Stone Ground Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit.
Q: Who/what inspired you to become a chef?
A: My father, Ron, started my brother and I cooking at the age of 5 – standing in front of the stove on top of a milk crate.
Q: Name anyone (alive or deceased) that you would like to cook for and what you would serve them.
A: My father passed away when I was 11, but I would want him to see what I have become. We would have macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and a nice cold Michelob Ultra.