Michael Rusconi Dishes on Vincent Guerithault, What He Learned at Lon's and His Pet Peeve When He's the Guy Getting Waited On
This is part two of my interview with Michael Rusconi, chef-owner of the new Rusconi's American Kitchen. If you missed part one, where Rusconi dishes about his guilty pleasure and what he metaphorically eats for breakfast, read it here.
Two New Brunches Hit the Valley in October: Mastro's Gets Its First (Bloody Mary Bar!) and Lon's Updates Theirs with Outdoor Marketplace
Favorite thing to eat growing up:
Growing up, I loved polenta and stew. We often ate at my grandparents' house and it was an incredible spread. My grandfather would prepare the polenta in the backyard over an open flame in a copper pot. We'd pair it with braised quail or dove stew and a spread of vegetables. It was like a gourmet, home-cooked buffet.
Favorite thing to eat now: Roasted duck with kabocha squash dumplings and a sweet and sour cranberry jus. I make it!
Describe one dish you've eaten (from any restaurant anywhere) that blew you away:
Buchanan Rusconi's paella
The dessert cart at Paul Bocuse restaurant in Lyon France completely blew me away. It was sick. It was a train of five carts that surrounded our table with cakes, gateaux and mousses. It was ridiculous.
The American food scene is better now than it was 20 years ago because: The public's increased attention on chefs has made top chefs do even better food.
Has the typical American diner become more sophisticated in the past 10 years? If so, how?: That is tough to say, but the typical American diner certainly has more of an opinion these days. Everyone wants to be a Nikki Buchanan!
How will Rusconi's be different from anything you've done before?:
I have worked in fine dining establishments my whole career. Recently resorts. We'll be much more down to earth and less pretentious with a very affordable price point. Also, I get to focus more on feeding Phoenicians, instead of just travelers.
Drawing from your own experiences dining out, how much of the overall impression of a restaurant is based on food and how much on everything else?: Service is the biggest element, I think. Food seems to come second, or why else would there be so many average restaurants?
Favorite dish at a local restaurant other than your own: Any dish Jared Porter does at The Parlor is great. Order his current pasta dish.