Annabelle Forrestal, exec chef of Vine Street, Mountain Sun Pub and Southern Sun, on food critics, the French Laundry and hot sauce

Six words to describe your food: Classic, fresh, thoughtful, comforting, local and unique.

Ten words to describe you: Perceptive, observant, optimistic, independent, stubborn, playful, caring, happy, passionate and determined.

Best recent food find: The homemade pasta at Patsy's Inn is unlike any pasta I've ever had. Now I know what authentic Italian pasta tastes like -- and it's a gem.

Favorite ingredient: The beet. You can roast it, poach it, pickle it, purée it, and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every time I peel back the skin, I'm so amazed by its beauty that I end up photographing it. The color is so intense, and the flavor is so natural.

Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Growing Gardens arugula. Freshly harvested arugula, straight from the field, is so spicy and robust, so zesty and delicious, and drastically different from all the rest.

Most overrated ingredient: Hot sauce. It has such an overwhelming flavor, and it overpowers every other aspect of a dish, not to mention most people are addicted to it. Before they even take the first nibble of their food, they douse their meal in it. I'm all for adding extra heat, but maybe try the dish without it first.

Most underrated ingredient: Honey. Adding honey to soups, dressings and sauces can add a whole other dimension of depth and flavor. Flavors of honey can vary greatly depending on the source: Buckwheat honey is earthy; orange blossom honey is delicate and citrusy; and alfalfa honey is spicy and floral. No matter which kind you use, it adds a complementary sweetness to dishes.

Favorite spice: I know that most everyone says this, but salt is my favorite spice, and it's the most important ingredient I have in my kitchen; it's the key to bringing out all the flavors in my dishes. It's essential and necessary and a powerful tool for improving the flavor of food. A favorite customer of mine recently gifted me a book called Salted, and it's awesome.

One food you detest: I've never liked watermelon. The watery, semi-crunchy texture always leaves me wanting something more, and it's never satisfied any fruit craving of mine. It's just an empty food to me.

One food you can't live without: Good, freshly baked bread is unbeatable. It's a perfect complement to just about any dish. My family and I used to bake bread at our cabin in the winter in order to keep warm. I remember letting the dough rise next to the huge rock fireplace and keeping the 1940s Magic Chef stove lit to keep the kitchen toasty.

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15 comments
Everyone and my dog is a chef
Everyone and my dog is a chef

Not to be rude be she is NOT a chef. Just like the janitor at the hospital cant work his way up to doctor. Be properly trained if you want the title or just be straight forward and call yourself a "kitchen Manager". Really she is not a chef, she just found out what fresh pasta taste like for Tebow sakes...........

cook1
cook1

I thought she mode some valid and some silly points. They way she speaks about food is genuine but some of her answers like the one about having the cooks think for themselves sound inaccurate. As a chef it is her job to think for her cooks, or at least know what they're thinking. That being said she had some cool stuff to say and I've enjoyed all the beer and food I've have at vine street.

BoogerEater
BoogerEater

Calling yourself a chef by working at those places is to put it mildly , "a stretch."  Regardless of what the chef's does, the chef's food is not on the plate.  Essentially a some what well written article about a over glorified prep cook.  Ugh.  Exec. Chef my butt.

mattyselby
mattyselby

Chef Annabelle prepared some of the best gnocchi I've ever had at her Harvest Week dinner...I never got the chance to tell her!

A Chef
A Chef

I don't understand this.  I don't know whether or not she is a chef.  That term, whether defined by Webster or not, means that you have received some sort of training and now run a kitchen.  Kitchen manager, chef, head cook, really there is not much difference when you are at a restaurant of this caliber.  The pubs are not looking to have 4 star food, but they do have 4 star service.  If they mess up, they ALWAYS make up.  Burgers they serve, beer they pour, Booger Eaters not welcome.  Besides what other pubs do you see where when you walk in you are not assaulted by TV?  The pubs rock.

TinaBurgerMunch
TinaBurgerMunch

BoogerEater...Go eat some more boogers! Annabelle is one of the hardest-working people I know. She's very passionate about what she does, and I enjoy eating everything she creates. Who are you to say she is not a chef?! 

toeachtheirown
toeachtheirown

the opinion of this self-proclaimed "booger eater" is hardly worth noting, except for it's absurdity. on the contrary, chef annabelle has been an inspiration to the menu at all three pubs. cheers to her great food!

PCR
PCR

@fa0bb4899de4012151968d180b2b3147:disqus . Whether you call her a prep cook or a chef, the fact of the matter is that Chef Annabelle oversees 3 very busy bar/restaurants where the food is consistent and real. Perhaps executing someone else's menu is not what you call a "chef", remember, chef means nothing more than "boss". Finally, Ive had the pleasure of working sise by side w Chef Annabelle, and the gal can cook.And their wings rule, too

BoogerEaterLove
BoogerEaterLove

Over seeing three pubs makes you a chef?  The food is consistent and real at McDonalds too, but the head kitchen person in there does not call themselves a chef. So, to reply to that being some sort of qualifying criterium...NO.  Busy or not. It does not matter.  Chef is too fast becoming a bastardized term that is applied loosely to burger flippers, kitchen managers and the like.  This 'chef' does not order the food but for one place, does not develop recipes except on the 'special' board.  The kitchen is literally built around burger flipping and cutting french fries.  That's it.  ANYONE can write a menu and make is sound good and taste good.  That is NOT what defines you as a chef.  I was not picking on her, but her title.  As far as cooking a burger to temp.-well that is what you get when you have mildly culinary minded people cooking the food.  The pubs (all 3) are great, but if you go there for a 'gastro' pub type experience. You will be disappointed. Have a beer, it will anything taste good.

PCRisanidiot
PCRisanidiot

Chef means nothing more than boss.  You are an asshole.  Try to order a burger to temp at this "chef's"  Vine St. location.   

Santa
Santa

If anyone can do it than why aren't you? Oh thats right you were let go because your skill level was less than most that work at McDonalds. Don't hate. Grow Up. Remember Santa knows everything!

tooter
tooter

BoogerEater - What do you do for a living?  Have you ever worked in a restaurant or kitchen?  I did not see anything in this article that lead me to believe that the "pubs" are trying to be Gastro by any means.  Maybe you should apply to one of the pubs and try flipping burgers yourself.  BTW - Merriam-Webster defines 'chef' as: chef noun \ˈshef\Definition of CHEF1: a skilled cook who manages the kitchen (as of a restaurant)

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