Posted On: 01/02/2014
Why Watch Him: He took one step back to take two steps forward.
Dinner at Cleveland-Heath was literally a life-changing experience for Jimmy Hippchen. After eating a “perfect” meal there, he put down his fork – and an executive chef position at The Crow’s Nest – to pick up an education as a line cook in the much-respected C-H kitchen in Edwardsville, Ill. Here, he shares everything from his favorite band (You’ve never heard of it.) to his favorite after-hours meal (You should make it tonight.).
Why work with food? I dropped out of art school, but food is kind of the same thing. You have a blank canvas, and you can do whatever you want with it. And food is reproducible. You make one big painting; that’s it. It’s done. But I can make 20 pappardelles in one night.
Who taught you how to cook? Jackson Noon at the Bleeding Deacon was the first one who showed me what food can do. But everyone teaches me how to cook; in every job you learn a little bit more. I still don’t know how to cook – but I know a couple of tricks.
I think you know how to cook. There’s still a fail rate. Sometimes you think you’re doing something great, but something goes terribly wrong. Like, I’ll make a dish at home, and I’ll think it’s gonna be the best, and then I take a bite, and I’m like, “Oh, we’re ordering pizza.”
What would you cook for the queen of England? A shepherd’s pie: roasted lamb, spaetzle, curried carrot sauce, peas and pea shoots. But I’d deconstruct it, which is just pure, brash, American brattiness.
What do you listen to in the kitchen? If I’m prepping, usually the most intense, over-the-top rap music I can find. But when I’m cooking, I like it cathartic. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is my favorite band. It’s my transcendental cooking music.
What do you eat after a long shift? I have become the king of leftovers in omelets. Like, take some fried chicken, put it in the skillet and make an omelet. People can say whatever they want, but a fried chicken omelet is the best thing ever.
Hypothetically speaking, what’s the name of your future restaurant? Plainview Tavern, named after Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. He’s a horrible person, but it’s gritty Americana, man.
– Kellie Hynes
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