Corporate Chef at Walker’s Grille, Virginia, USA
RestaurantWare Interviewer: Explain your food philosophy in 10 or fewer words.
Chef Keller: Under promised and over delivered Mid Atlantic Sustainable cuisine.
RestaurantWare Interviewer: What is your most unique attribute as a food professional?
Chef Keller: I run a “classroom environment” for my staff and emphasize safe food handling, menu integrity, “guest first” approach and taking pride in what our trade is. My cooks have all moved on to Sous and then Executive Chef positions and leaves me grateful that I can groom future Chefs.
RestaurantWare Interviewer: Explain the most innovative event you’ve ever thrown or dish you’ve ever created.
Chef Keller: A recent New Years Eve event was in held in 9 different banquet rooms of a 4 Star DC Hotel for 1000 guests with 9 different themes that included all different cuisines including Japanese, Scandinavian, French, Russian. The bill was one million dollars for one evening’s event.
RestaurantWare Interviewer: What is the most underrated kitchen product or food item?
Chef Keller: Beet tops – everyone loves baby beets and leaves a lot. Beet that.
RestaurantWare Interviewer: How do ecofriendly considerations enter your decision making process as a chef or caterer?
Chef Keller: At Walker’s Grille, we are committed to protecting the environment. Not only have we used recycled materials in the design and construction of our restaurant, our daily restaurant operations are also eco-friendly. We use a recycling program to reduce waste and high-efficiency equipment to reduce water and energy consumption. We believe it is important to support local farmers and dairies, all natural beef and poultry producers, providers of sustainable seafood, and artisanal producers of goods.
Our meats and poultry are hormone, antibiotic and pesticide free; they are raised on all-natural vegetarian diets that are free from animal by-products. We are proud to feature products such as Meyer Natural Angus beef, the only major beef company to receive “Certified Humane” designation from the “Humane Farm Animal Care Program.” We also serve beef from Harris Ranch, where cattle are exclusively sourced, fed, and humanely processed. Our chicken is Bell & Evans; they are raised in a minimal stress environment, free to roam the houses with plenty of room to move about as they choose. We serve Compart Duroc pork, bred, born, and raised on small, family owned and operated farms. In addition, we only serve sustainable seafood and attempt to obtain all of our seafood from domestic sources.
Finally, our dairy and egg needs are sourced from Kreider Farms, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and winner of the “Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award.” Our produce, when in season, is sourced as much as possible from local farmers and farmers’ markets. All of our cheeses are domestic and most are sourced from smaller, artisanal creameries.
At Walker’s Grille, we believe that the benefits of a sustainable future and an energy efficient environment are worth the extra effort.
RestaurantWare Interviewer: RestaurantWare is about providing a stylish presentation for food, explain your approach to plating and tablescapes.
Chef Keller: I’d describe it as “Inn Cuisine.” Simply presented local Virginia products with many micro greens, textures, color, plate height lends points of difference that allow our guests to enjoy the experience both culinarily and visually.
RestaurantWare Interviewer: List one tip that you would give to a DIY entertainer or at home chef who might need some professional inspiration to take a gathering to the next level.
Chef Keller: Utilize seasonal, organic and local products. Present them whole while preparing half of them for guests to enjoy. Everyone loves to be educated.
RestaurantWare Interviewer: What is the BEST thing you’ve eaten recently?
Chef Keller: A marriage of hot and cold Foie Gras with Sauternes Gelee and Fig Marmalade.
-By RestaurantWare’s CMO Jamil Bouchareb, follow the RestaurantWare brand on Twitter: @bambooware