I consider myself a “Foodie” and I like to keep up with the ever changing restaurant scene in Chicago. I LOVE when new restaurants open and I was extremely excited for the opening of Roister last year. Of course, I was excited because it was an addition to the Alinea group, but also because this restaurant is more affordable and casual.
What caught my eye the most was the restaurant concept. “The Restaurant is the Kitchen and the Kitchen is the Restaurant.” What does that mean? Exactly that….it’s an Open Kitchen! Patrons are gathered around a bar like area with the kitchen being the central focus. It was awesome to see the chef’s really put in the work. The name Roister itself refers to a vibrant atmosphere, bumping music, and creative cocktails in a high energy setting. Roister offers New American dining in a stylishly modern décor setting.
I went to check out the restaurant during the lunch time hours and my friend and I had such a great time. Besides the food being delicious I think what stood out to us the most was the music and the hospitality. We were listening to “Young Thug – Lifestyle” while dining at this pretty casual/yet classy establishment. 🙂
I interviewed Executive Chef Andrew Brochu (see below). Roister was nominated as a semi-finalist for the 2017 James Beard Awards for the Best New Restaurant category. Although they didn’t make it to the finals it was such a huge accomplishment to be nominated. In the restaurant industry the James Beard Awards is looked at as the Oscars of the food industry. I asked Chef Brochu below a few questions regarding Roister and the restaurant industry in general.
Interview with Executive Chef Andrew Brochu
First off, Congrats on being nominated for Best New Restaurant for the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards! You’re up against a couple other Chicago restaurants. How would you define Roister and what sets it apart from the competition?
Chef Brochu: I feel Roister is a fun entertaining restaurant, that is designed to allow guests to let loose, have a great time, and really enjoy a meal together. The quality and standards are organized so that the guests can sit back, relax, and get as rowdy as they want to.
I love how the “restaurant is the kitchen” concept. As a restaurant diner it’s exciting to see the food prepared. From a Chef’s perspective what appeals to you with the open kitchen concept? Do you feel more connected to your audience? Like being able to see the patron take the first bite or are you so into preparing the food that you’re more oblivious of the “audience.” I guess I would compare it to how some DJ’s feed off the energy of the crowd and some are playing more so for themselves.
Chef Brochu: I agree with that thought about a dj. We originally thought that the guests would feed off the energy of the kitchen, I feel that now that we have been open, the kitchen feeds off the energy of the diners. It’s a very fun environment to work in and I feel like the guests and employees really feel like they are together.
Speaking of music….Roister has some AWESOME music!! I went for lunch time and heard a lot of awesome hip hop tunes, but also some pop and rock. Who is in charge of the music selection and does the music help set the vibe to you?
Chef Brochu: The music is definitely part of the vibe, it sets the tone and is almost a topic of conversation with the guests. We have built a playlists that is all over the place and really leaves people not knowing what the next song will be.
Roister is known for the fried chicken. I read an article that you’re willing to give the recipe out to anyone, but it will be hard for someone to duplicate it. I totally get that! I’ve had so many experiences that no matter how many time’s I’m shown… some things are better left to the professionals. 🙂 Can you give me a brief summary of your career as a chef and if possible can you narrow down to one experience that took you to a higher level in your profession?
Chef Brochu: A lot of the food at Roister I really feel is soulful. It’s very important to everyone involved in the process. Most of the recipes seem really easy and simple but are time consuming detailed processes. I feel like Roister is a combination of all of the restaurants I have been a part of over time and really focuses on all the things we find important in food and dining.
March is National Women’s Month. A lot of industries are making special programs for woman to equalize the field. For example the James Beard Foundation has the mentorship Women in Culinary Leadership Program What advice would you give to women looking to enter the culinary world?
Chef Brochu: Man or woman, I would give the same advice. Work hard, stay focused, pay attention to how the restaurant runs and operates, and be patient. This is a life long career, it doesn’t happen overnight, enjoy the process of growing and learning.
So appreciative for Chef Brochu taking the time to answer Chi@Glance interview questions and I hope you guys get a chance to experience Roister for yourselves. Happy Eating!