WRITTEN BY Tamberlyn Dobrowski
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Taylor Mathis
I have always admired Rooster’s and love going there to have lunch or dinner with friends and family. Phil Barnes, head chef, took a moment to sit down, cook and talk about his journey to becoming a chef. What a treat!
Read the full post to see a great interview with the head chef of Rooster’s and discover a few fabulous recipes!
Why did you become a chef?
PHIL: My mom was a great cook so I grew up loving and appreciating food. She loved Julia Childs and the French style of cooking. Breads, cookies, and cake were always around our house as well. Mom had a garden in the backyard and taught us how to pick fresh vegetables and love fresh food at an early age.
What is your background?
PHIL: I started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher when I was 15. I worked my way up from there. I have been with Jim Nobles’ group for 7 years and have been the head chef of Rooster’s for 2 years.
How do you choose the dishes on the menu and what dishes are you most proud of?
PHIL: Jim Noble has recipes that are the base of the menu, but he gives me a great deal of creative freedom with the daily special sheet. I am able to focus on what is fresh each day and make my dishes around those ingredients. I am most proud of execution, consistency and simple chicken being executed properly. Seasonality, locality, simplicity and southern-inspired with European techniques is the inspiration behind the menu.
Rooster’s is such a popular spot. To what do you attribute its popularity?
PHIL: Attention to detail and consistently looking at ways to make things better is number one. Overall leadership, Jim Noble is a great leader and he passes that down to the team. Consistency.
One of my favorites on the menu is the tomato soup. Do you use fresh tomatoes at times or canned?
PHIL: Tomatoes are very seasonal and we need to have great soup year-round so we use Alta Cucina canned tomatoes.
What local ingredients are you using?
PHIL: We have fantastic relationships with lots of farmers. We get fresh eggs, chickens, pigs and grass-fed beef. Fresh should go without saying…farm-to-table is the only way to do it. We really feel strongly about supporting our local farmers.
What do you see being the next big restaurant trend?
PHIL: Farm-to-table is here to stay, but we are always pushing to try new things. I think the next trend is a modern twist on classic cooking. We are seeing French techniques making a comeback, the twist is reimagining how to do things—a creative twist on French.
What are your favorite dishes for simple entertaining at home?
PHIL: Something off the grill. Chicken a couple of different ways, lots of sides. I just like for everyone to relax and enjoy. I am planning on making the tomato soup when I get home.
What are some other sides you like to serve with the soup for a spring luncheon?
PHIL: A vegetable plate, pan-fried corn, fresh spinach and beets.