When a restaurant invites you to talk food with their chef, you do not say no. When said chef agrees to answer any questions about anything, you take full advantage.
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with the Bill Wallen, Executive Chef at Grain on Main Street. He runs his small but mighty kitchen like a well oiled machine, resulting in some of UD’s favorite brunch, burger, and dessert options. With 30 years of experience behind him, including 8 years working with Bobby Flay, he had some words of wisdom to share to college kids who want to step past their microwave specialty days. Here are his top 5 tips:
1. You Can Always Put Bacon on Anything
It is easy to relate to the idea that bacon makes everything better. Second to that is cheese. You cannot go wrong with those two ingredients, so learn how to make and combine them in any ways possible.
2. Don’t Burn It
Bill said this was technically the number one rule in his kitchen prior to sharing his love for bacon. Cooking lets you get creative with ingredients, but burning something could ruin what could have been a magical creation. Invest in a kitchen timer and know the difference between browning a piece of chicken and burning all of the good parts off.
3. There Are No Wrong Combinations
What can often make a meal great is what makes it stand out. Walk into Grain and you might be one of the lucky people to try one of Bill’s latest creations that he tests with random customers. Good results even end up on the menu, like Captain Crunch French Toast. Now don’t necessarily pour syrup in your pasta, but combine flavors and appeal to your cravings in the kitchen. Circle back to tip number one if you want somewhere to start.
4. Fresh Ingredients Are Key
Grain’s walk in fridge is one that dreams are made of, especially when Bill makes sure the ingredients are fresh. Fresh vegetables and meats from your supermarket or local farmer’s market will guarantee richer flavors and prevent the chance of unthawed piece sneaking into your meal.
5. More Expensive Is Not Always Better
As a restaurant right off campus, Grain does a good job of offering reasonable prices. You won’t see many half priced items, but food never has to break the bank. Being college student does not mean we need to eat ramen noodles and sketchy dining hall beef every night either. Buying only what you need and using coupons can make a hug difference.
The bottom line is have fun with it and remember how much good food can improve your day. If you do end up burning your meal or getting a little too crazy with your ingredients, give Bill a visit at Grain.