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

Favorite music to cook by: TV on the Radio. They're melodic at times, intense at others. Listening to music is one of my favorite aspects about working in a kitchen as opposed to an office environment. I'm surrounded by music and food all day long. What an awesome combo.

Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Common sense. I love it when my cooks are inquisitive and can think past their position, and I encourage them to evaluate their situations and think for themselves instead of copping out and relying on someone else to do their thinking for them. I don't like to babysit; instead, I hold comfort in knowing that we hire and retain intelligent chefs.

Biggest kitchen disaster: I knocked the valve off of a serving tank of beer in the walk-in on my first day out of training. Nearly 186 gallons of Ruckus Wit Belgian Ale came shooting out, and the twenty pounds of pressure blew me out of the walk-in and across the room. I was soaked.

What's never in your kitchen? American cheese.

What's always in your kitchen? Wine.

Favorite food from your childhood: Artichokes that my dad would bring home from the Ferry Building in San Francisco. He'd come home from business trips with produce taking up most of the room in his suitcase. I'd run to help him unpack, and in return, I'd receive my very own, perfectly large artichoke. I had the cooking technique perfected at a young age, steaming them just enough to scrape the meat off each leaf. I'd sit there and eat the entire thing all by myself until I reached the prized heart. To this day, it still remains one of my favorite foods, and the California chokes were far superior in flavor than the ones I could get when I lived in St. Louis.

Favorite dish on your menu: Buffalo saison chili loaded with seasonal and local veggies, deglazed with some farmhouse Belgian saison, fragrant with the roasty spice from charred jalapeños, and served with fluffy, cheesy cornbread and whipped honey butter. I break the cornbread into the chili, and it all just melts in your mouth, and the buffalo adds a nice change from the traditional beef.

Favorite restaurant in America: The French Laundry. When I was in the fourth grade, my dad moved our family to a small town in Napa Valley called Yountville, and I was lucky enough to be introduced to some of the freshest and most delicious foods, unbelievable wineries and, of course, inspiring restaurants. The French Laundry was a five-minute walk from our front door to theirs. I vividly remember the ivy-covered building and the dessert of coffee and doughnuts. Fortunately for me, we ate there often, and I attribute my yearning for unique and stimulating dining experiences to this.

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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...........

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.   

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!

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