This is part of a chef interview series. View all interviews here.
On a somewhat leisurely Monday afternoon, when 7th street market was winding down. I sat down with Chef Adam Spears of Local Loaf to talk about life and Charlotte and food. Not only did we talk about that, but I also found out how he likes to eat his eggs. More importantly, whoever cooks them better not screw them up. Just sayin…
What are your thoughts on social media playing such a huge role in the restaurant scene? Has it made a good or a bad impact?
I think we’ve had a really good role with it. I really think social media gets the word out. I do like it. Just refine it a little bit. I wonder if social media sites could monitor certain words and then say sorry you cannot submit. [In reference to a previous, disgruntled, employee posting on Yelp.]
We’re not Hollywood Squares. We’re here to cook. Everyone puts in their time. Blood, sweat and tears. That’s what people want to hear about. That’s why they want to say that was the best sandwich or best steak ever and that’s what needs to be said on social media.
What is the first thing you do after a long day at the restaurant?
I take the bullets out of the revolver…Just kidding.
I’m not the typical I grab a bottle of scotch, light me up some cigarettes and turn on some Jimmy Buffet.
Usually I go home and see my girlfriend, we take the puppy out to the dog park. I like to make sure family is taken care of first. Then once the dishes are put away and laundry is done, I’ll have a drink or we’ll go have dinner. Then I’ll work on stuff for the next day.
For you, what is the most challenging part of running a restaurant?
Doing both. Cooking and running the business at the same time. Even on such a small scale.
Doing it all is challenging. I look at having 5 restaurants by the time I’m 35 and doing this over and over every time. By the time I’m at 35 I want to be able to just chill for a while.
Where do you see the Charlotte food scene going in the near future?
I don’t know, I think they need to decide what they want to do. We’re like a shopping cart, a little bit of that, a little bit of this.
I don’t think Charlotte knows what exactly it wants to be yet. We’re such a baby city. We know we’re banking. We know we like to have fun, but not too late. It might be 5-15 years til we say this is where you go for this. We’re still figuring it out, but there are a lot of opportunities. We’re trying. We just need to focus.
As chefs, I see a trend of continuing to create new experiences versus perfecting food. We are all guilty of: this is what I want it to be, and it just falls short. Unfortunately we are complacent with this because the culture around us is ok with it.
Besides Charlotte [of course!], what’s your favorite city to eat your way through?
I really enjoy Chicago. I enjoyed New York. I love Boston.
What is your prediction for the next “Big Ingredient” in the food world?
Charcuterie is about ready to make a big break. I think people are starting to get into headcheese. They are starting to understand liver pate. They’re starting to understand farce meat.
They’re getting creative with the interpretation. Like capicola fish flakes…If someone makes that I want my money!
Do you have any advice you would give an aspiring chef that you wish someone would have given you when you first began your culinary journey?
Yea. Get a lawyer. Get a CPA. Save your money and invest.
What is your biggest pet peeve in restaurants?
Not respecting food, from peeling, washing, working clean. I was trying to find a quote last night from Thomas Keller. It was something about finding ultimate joy in the mundane tasks of everyday things, because that’s what we do.
I hate when eggs are overcooked. Don’t give me strawberry shoe leather. Cook me an egg perfectly, each time. It’s like it’s not respected. Like oh hey it’s just an egg, who cares!
Is there an ingredient or dish that you feel in completely overrated?
Probably Sriracha. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I had some on my eggs the other day. There are just so many good hot sauces out there.
How do you juggle the work versus life balance?
Yeah, I don’t. My mind never stops thinking about food. There’s no turn off switch for me. The minute I stop working with food or my business then I go right into, oh I wonder how that would taste and then I start creatively thinking in a fun manner, like I enjoy it.
I would like to get into the gym more but hey we’ll get there.
What do you think about this “Celebrity Chef” phenomenon?
I haven’t really liked it since Rachel Ray. There are some cool TV shows and stuff, but it’s kinda like Sriracha, I’m over it. I watch it for fun. There are people out there doing cool and creative things. Those people have dreams too. That’s where they’re at and they’re having fun with it. Who am I to tear it down?
Connect with Chef Adam and learn about Local Loaf