Chris Collins of Grassroots Kitchen and Tap: "Enjoy What You Do or Don't Do It at All"
The best thing about being in the restaurant business: Every day is a new day with its own challenges and rewards. I never have the same routine or feel like there is monotony in my life. Whether it's with my team members or a guest, I get to experience someone great on a daily basis.
Courtesy of MMPR Collins' Carolina baby back ribs.
The worst thing about being in the restaurant business: My son is two weeks old and I would like to spend more time with him. March is a very busy time for the restaurants, and I'm blessed to have such an amazing and understanding wife.
Describe Grassroots in five words: Locally owned, genuine food, hospitality.
What drew you to the industry?: As a young man, watching my father's passion for his restaurants inspired me to devote myself to this craft.
Your earliest food memory: My father would work many late nights, and sometimes the only quality time my brothers and I got to enjoy with him outside the restaurants would be a late-night snack. We would hear Wally come home and we'd get out of bed to see what he brought that night. My fondest memories are of great cheeses and cured meats. I named my charcuterie plate "Dad's Grocery Bag" in honor of this special food memory.
Your favorite item on the menu and why: Shrimp and grits. Give me some of the best grits west of the Mississippi with our spicy tasso-ham relish and grilled white shrimp and I'm in heaven. My little secret is to add a little dash of local honey on the grilled toast to create a great balance of savory, sweet, and heat.
Your personal mantra: Enjoy what you do or don't do it at all.
Your culinary guilty pleasure: I really love Chinese food. One day I hope to learn how to properly cook fiery Szechuan-style cuisine.
If you had to eat three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?: Desert Jade Peking pork, my mother's carbonara, and La Grande Orange sea salt chocolate cookie.
Most memorable meal to date: May 22, 2013, in Paris on my honeymoon with my beautiful wife, Melissa Doyle Collins. We checked into the hotel, and I immediately asked the concierge to make a reservation for us at the famed Le Jules Verne, at the top of the Eiffel Tower. He looked at me like I was crazy and informed me it took months in advance to get a reservation. Nonetheless, he said he would try, and on the way up to our room, my wife teased me for even asking. Five minutes later, the phone rang and the concierge informed us there had been a last-minute cancelation and that we were booked. I will never forget the decadent food, bottles of champagne, and looking at my newlywed wife with the River Seine in the background. Absolutely a perfect evening.