George Eder, exec chef of Pizza Republica, on grubs, Groupons and the guest who was aghast
He was the director of operations for all of Sullivan's restaurants -- Ocean, Mao and Emogene (all closed) among them -- until he made the decision to open Pizza Republica in 2008. "I decided to do a pizza place because it's one of the most widely accepted segments to improve upon. We wanted to have a restaurant where guests would find familiar and comfortable food done in a way that was truly authentic in style," he explains, noting that all of his recipes were handed down by his mom and grandmother.
"The kitchen is my sanctuary," admits Eder. "I'm behind the line every weekend, stretching dough -- that's my therapy -- and making pizzas and stacking pizza boxes to the ceiling. I love what I do." In the following interview, Eder expands on his plans for the downtown location, explains why a chef who loses his cool is anything but cool, and exposes the guy who insists that chips and salsa should be a mainstay at every restaurant -- even Italian ones.
How do you describe your food? Warm, cozy, comfortable and a little quirky. I try to blend old-world recipes and ingredients with modern techniques and execution. It's always been my dream to bring the feeling my mom gave me growing up -- that warm sense of hominess and love -- to everyone who walks through my door. I want people to know that we take a lot of pride in what we do -- and that we really care.
Ten words to describe you: Driven, adventurous, introspective, scattered, honest, energetic, resilient, committed, loyal and slightly crazy.
What are your ingredient obsessions? Garlic in all forms and varieties: elephant garlic, black garlic, raw garlic, roasted garlic, fried garlic, sous-vide garlic -- every garlic. Every time you change a cooking technique, it changes with you, so garlic can be spicy, sweet, buttery or smoky; it all depends on how you use it. Plus, it's always healthy and keeps the vampires away.
What are your kitchen-gadget obsessions? Immersion circulators and great knives. My current knife obsession is any knife from New West KnifeWorks from Jackson, Wyoming.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Until it closed, it was Il Mondo Vecchio's porcini salumi. Now goat's-milk cheeses from Haystack Mountain and the MouCo Camembert are staples in my restaurant.
Food trend you'd like to see in 2013: A return to simplicity in the kitchen. I find more joy in a perfectly executed five-ingredient dish than trying to decipher the 100-ingredient cryptic message that ends up on some plates.