Round two with Scott Yosten, exec chef of Steakhouse 10
This is part two of my interview with Scott Yosten, exec chef of Steakhouse 10. Part one of my interview with Yosten ran in this space yesterday.
Favorite food city: Chicago. The ethnic boroughs and neighborhoods turn out the best food you'll ever eat. Just like in New York, there's a gyros place on every corner, but in Chicago each place is different. This is a city that lives for its food, and you can tell that's true every time you put something in your mouth.
Guiltiest food pleasure: Great vanilla-bean ice cream with fresh berries and heated Melba sauce.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: Sushi Den. I'm a huge sushi fan, and every time I go here, the food and service are spot-on. Their ability to produce new menu items and daily specials will never let you down, and in our current economy, it's great to see that this place is always packed.
Favorite music to cook by: As a whole, we like the oldies, Kool 105, great jazz and, of course, classic rock and roll.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Work smart, work hard, work clean, respect the staff, and most important, respect the food. When shit happens, you have to adapt.
Biggest kitchen disaster: This leads me to one of the most tragic restaurant horror stories related to breakage. When you're training to become a chef and rising to an executive-chef level, you're exposed to some of the most incredible cooking and serving vessels known to man, and the vessels are the canvas with which you paint your plate and serve your beverage. When the chaparral in the Marriott was converted into a steakhouse with seating for 200 people, all of the china, glassware and flatware were imported. They started with 300 fourteen-inch round, ceramic entree plates that were hand-painted and imported from Spain. They were stocked on the line over the broiler and sauté station for easy access -- and to keep them warm for service. Apparently the guy who installed the shelving system for the plates missed the memo that made it clear to use bolts when you're securing shelves that need to support a substantial amount of weight. Rule number one in the restaurant industry? Food and glass don't mix. Sure enough, on a busy Friday night, we saw the bolts pulling out of the plate shelf from the wall over the sauté station. There were four of us on the line -- not enough -- so we immediately summoned help, and the first guy to show up was our exec chef, who was 130 pounds soaking wet. He grabbed the side of the sagging shelf and held it up long enough for us to remove 100 plates -- and then we all had to bail out because we saw what was coming. The other 200 plates came crashing down in dominoes fashion on the sauté station and the broiler, creating a thunder that could be heard on the twelfth floor. My culinary heart was in my hands for the next week. I wasn't just saddened by the loss of some of the most beautiful serving vessels I've ever seen, but the closure of the line for two days. I worked on and off the clock for those two days, living in the Marriott to get that line functional.
How do you handle customer complaints -- and what should customers do when they're unhappy? No gray area here -- only black and white. You have a customer that's either empathetic -- someone who understands that we're having an off night, or every so often we're going to miss a steak -- or you have a customer who's drunk and rude. Either way, it's not about how you cook the crow; it's about how you make it taste. We all have those great days, and you can be perfect for a long time, but in one night, it can go south real quick. The customer is paying hard-earned money to dine in your restaurant, so if you don't get right the first time, you do whatever it takes to get it right the second time.