Chef Justin Olsen of Bink's Midtown on Working With Chef Jose Andres and His Bacon Tattoo
We're back with the second part of our interview with chef Justin Olsen of Bink's Midtown. Today, we get the story about how he landed a job with chef Jose Andres at his center for culinary experimentation, minibar in Washington, D.C. He also shares the one thing he wants you to know about Bink's Midtown and why he loves working with chef Kevin Binkley. If you missed the first part of the interview, in which Olsen told us about why this Texas-born chef loves his veggie-centric menu, you can double back and read it here.
Photos by David Zickl Chef Justin Olsen in the kitchen at Bink's Midtown. Evie Carpenter Ranch-style roasted pork from Bink's pig roast.
It was just about two years ago when Olsen says he found himself caught in a whirlwind of events that had him interviewing with James Beard Award-winning chef Jose Andres for a position at his Washington, D.C., restaurant minibar. He was working with Kevin Binkley at Binkey's Restaurant at the time, when his current boss set him up with the once in a lifetime chance.
"It was intimidating," Olsen admits about his interview with Andres and a handful of the chef's higher-ups. "He asked he after the interview if I ever smiled."
But the experience wasn't intimidating enough to prevent him from getting the job, and a week later, he was driving across the country to start at the new gig. He didn't have a place to live before he set off, but it would turn out to be quite a formative experience for the young chef.
"That's his baby," Olsen explains about minibar. "He likes to call [the employees] his delta force."
And it's pretty clear why. The restaurant offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience in which three chefs craft more than a dozen small courses for just six diners at a time. There are only two seatings five nights a week. The restaurant also doubles as Andres' center for research and development, where chefs try, test, and perfect ideas that get used throughout the Andres culinary empire.