Q&A, Part 2: Bellwether Chef Dan Ross-Leutwyler on Food Service Marriage, Eating Out, and Kitchen Music
Yesterday we spoke with Chef Dan Ross-Leutwyler about his recent move to Bellwether in Brooklyn and his approach to cooking. Today he discusses what it's like to have a spouse in the industry, where he eats out, and his connection to music. He even admits to the only food he will never eat.
Your wife is also in the industry, as one of the owners of Pies n' Thighs. What's it like to share that sort of connection with a spouse?
It's great. And sometimes it's also terrible. I think and talk about food all day. She thinks and talks about food all day. And what the hell do we do when we're alone after both working 12 hours a day? We sit around and we talk about food. But the other side of that coin is that she's incredibly understanding of the demands that this job places on me. So sometimes when I come home at 2 o'clock in the morning drunk after a lousy shift, she's sympathetic to that. She works as hard, if not harder, than I do. So it's nice to have that understanding. But sometimes you just want to escape food and not have to talk about it.
Do you guys cook much at home when you're not working?
We really try to, but sometimes it's just really hard to cook at home. Especially when you have to wash your own dishes. That's the main impediment to me to cooking at home--having to wash your own dishes. But we try to do things that will sustain us for a whole week. I'll run over to the Meat Hook and buy a bunch of meats to chop up and grind to make a meat ragout that you can eat for the whole week. We like to keep some salads in the fridge, but I'd be lying if I said we ate everything that we cooked.
What are five food items that you are never without in your house?
Hummus, Carrots, this fermented black bean paste we buy in Chinatown, tonic, and pistachios.
Anything you won't eat?
I'm not super interested in ever eating lung. That just sounds kind of gross to me. Every other part I think is cool, but there's a reason people don't cook with lung. Other than that I eat with an open mind.
Where do you like to eat and drink out, when or if you have free time?
Other than Pies n' Thighs? I really love what they're doing at Roebling Tea Room. I think they have the best burger in the city. Dennis, the chef, is always willing to take chances there and I really appreciate that. I just went to Mission Chinese for the first time and I can't wait to go back. But I'll never wait two hours in line for anything--let alone food--so that makes it kind of hard.
But the free beer sweetens the deal a little.
We went there and brought them a bucket of chicken from Pies n' Thighs and so it was like "Oh yeah. Just go sit down." I don't make it out there as much as I'd like to, but there's this place Bao Xuyen in Sunset Park that has amazing banh mi and avocado shakes. And I try to support local places. I live in Greenpoint, so I try to support places in Greenpoint. There is this great Mexican diner called Acapulco that's really satisfying.