Round two with Randy Balch, chef of Wazee Supper Club
This is part two of my interview with Randy Balch, chef of Wazee Supper Club. Read part one of my chef and tell interview with Balch.
Favorite dish on your menu: The meat-over pizza, with Canadian bacon, pepperoni, Italian sausage and ham, is one of my top favorites, although for someone who wants to try something a little different, we've added a Thai chicken pizza to our menu that people can't seem to get enough of. It starts with a spicy peanut sauce, then we sprinkle it with mozzarella cheese and chicken and cook it until it's nice and crispy. It's then topped with snow peas, shredded carrots and chives and tossed in sesame oil. Delicious. We use super-fresh ingredients, I love our crust, which is rolled in corn meal, and our sauce, which has just a little bit of heat to it and a lot of flavor, is really popular, so much so that people come in often and ask if they can buy it. We have the best pizza downtown -- maybe not the world -- but definitely downtown.
Biggest menu bomb: We tried to put a crabcake appetizer on the menu, but it never really caught on or sold very well.
Most memorable meal you've ever had: In my younger days, I used to get in a bit of trouble. I spent a little time behind bars, and when I got out, I went to the store and picked up some Alaskan king crab legs and a ten-ounce ribeye steak. When I got home, I fired up the grill, seasoned the steak with garlic, rosemary and onion and cooked it to perfection. After being locked up for a while and eating that horrible slop that they call food, eating a juicy steak and crab legs was like having a kingly feast
Favorite childhood food memory: The big family get-togethers on the holidays like the Fourth of July, when we all gathered at the park and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, played games, watched fireworks, ate a lot of watermelon, and just enjoyed food, family and fun.
Favorite restaurant in America: I started cooking at the age of thirteen at the International House of Pancakes, and I remember washing dishes one night when all the cooks walked out in the middle of a graveyard shift. The manager asked if I'd like to be a cook, I graciously accepted, and that's when my illustrious cooking career began. But now, at the age of 47, having worked in more than twenty different restaurants, I've found that my home is my favorite restaurant in America.
Favorite junk food: Rocky Road ice cream has always been one of my favorite junk foods. I just can't seem to get enough of it.
What are your favorite wines and/or beers? Coors Light and Jameson.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? When I was sixteen, my mother realized that I was good at cooking, so she bought me a set of knives for my birthday. I love those knives; they lasted for several years and, as a matter of fact, I believe I still have the paring knife from the set.