Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 7:53 a.m.
Chef Julian Greaves of Tryst is best-known for making fresh, local comfort food. Often intended to pair well with Tryst's large selection of beer, his dishes encapsulate true gastropub fare. With Oktoberfest coming to a close in Germany (but still going here in South Florida -- here's our list of Oktoberfest 2012 parties in South Florida), we figured we would check in with the beer-loving chef.
Clean Plate Charlie: When and why did you decide to become a chef?
Greaves: I had been working as a waiter in a west Delray old-people's hangout for a few years when one night I almost strangled one of our obnoxious guests. I had reached a boiling point.
Being a valued employee of the restaurant, the owner approached me and offered me a job in the cave -- AKA the kitchen -- which I took. I ended up loving it and decided to go to culinary school.
Who hasn't felt that way? What is the most ridiculous thing a customer has done in your restaurant?
Besides leaving a wallet with $6,000 cash, another left diamond earrings -- big ones. I'd say the worst, though, was the devil mom that watched her kids smash every vase and glass candle we had out on the patio without even flinching.
Ouch. You've told us before that you grew up in England. How do you think that influenced you in terms of style?
I grew up in a town with a larger population of cows and sheep than people, in the middle of England. The smell of manure being spread across fields still rings in my nostrils! My mother -- a great cook -- would go to the local green grocer and butcher to pick up food from local farms. We would prepare them simply and traditionally. "Farm to fork" was not a movement: That's just how things were. My first job was at a small butcher shop. I was trained on everything, from slaughter to retail sale.
How do you feel about the Telegraph mocking American food?
The British press have never been known for their honesty, integrity, or open-minded views. The Brits were always jealous of America, in my opinion, because, quite honestly, life is just better here, overall.
What are your favorite things to eat in South Florida?
I really enjoy seafood -- and there are some tasty varieties found in our waters. Wahoo seared rare is awesome. I get it from a local fisherman, Bill Weiss. I love Cuban food too, but it has to be authentic. Havana in Lake Worth is good. And there's nothing better than Cuban coffee to finish off a meal!
Do you have a favorite dish on your menu?
I really like the roasted bone-marrow appetizer. At one moment, you feel like a Neanderthal chowing down on your latest kill. And the next, like a king savoring a hard-to-find delicacy. It's so decadent without trying to be.
What's in store for your fall menu?
Well, I guess, I'll have to bring back the grossly popular charred Brussels sprouts with house-cured pancetta. I also want to bring back a dish that I made at a friend's wedding a while back: duck confit on "French toast" with bacon-maple-bourbon syrup and wild mushroom and spinach confit. Pontano and Swank farms, amongst others, are just getting going again, now that the heat of summer is over. I will be buying some cool stuff from their new variety of veggies and herbs.
If you could have one last meal, what would you choose?
A runny-yolk fried egg sandwich with crispy bacon and HP Sauce [an English steak sauce] on crusty white bread. Washed down with an Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout.
English or American bacon?
English bacon, of course!
What is the strangest thing you ever ate?
My mom said I ate dry cat food when I was a kid, but I don't remember that. From my memory, I think it would have to be the 100-year egg [look it up
], which tasted like armpit cheese. But in a good way. Very strange to look at.
Do you have a favorite ingredient?
I like Indian spices -- very popular in England growing up, eating curries all the time. I find in small quantities and correct ratios, I can slip them into dishes like soups or rubs and people freak out over the flavors, but they can't pinpoint what it is.
What's your favorite thing to drink?
Water for life. Wine for dinner. And craft beer for pleasure.
If you could drop everything and go anywhere in the world, where would you choose to be?
Boise, Idaho. I fell in love this year while whitewater rafting. Best people, geography, climate, attitude, and way of life.