Pastry Chef Joe Truex
Louisiana native Joe Truex earned his chops in kitchens in
New Orleans and Las Vegas before attending The Culinary Institute
of America in Hyde Park, NY. While enrolled, he trained under Chef
Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque. After graduating, he moved
to Switzerland to become chef de partie at the Swissotel Le Plaza
in Basel. When Truex returned to New York, he took positions at
The Peninsula Hotel and then with Fireman Hospitality Group, opening
The Brooklyn Diner and The Redeye Grill. Truex
worked as executive chef at The Cambridge Hotel in Cambridge, New
York, then moved to Atlanta for a position as executive chef at
the Swissotel, and then at Château Élan Winery and
Resort in Braselton, GA.
Truex and his wife opened Repast in Atlanta
in late 2005, a neighborhood restaurant whose menu is flecked with
ingredients that reflect their international culinary background
(his: European and French, hers: Japanese). Truex wears many hats:
co-executive chef, sommelier, manager, and pastry chef, on any given
day. In the pastry kitchen, he creates desserts that are comfortable
and rich, with a good balance of salty and sweet – like hearty
but airy banana bread pudding crusted in pecans, chocolate with
Okinawa sea salt and olive oil, and a soufflé-style cheesecake
that uses the Japanese method of steaming instead of baking.
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AB: Where have you worked professionally as a chef?
JT: I did a six month externship at Le Cirque for Daniel Boulud, and worked at The Plaza Hotel in Basil, Switzerland. I worked at The Peninsula in New York and with The Fireman Group, opening the Brooklyn Diner and Redeye Grill, and at The Cambridge Hotel in Cambridge, New York. In Georgia I worked at the Swisshotel and Château Élan Winery.
AB: Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring cooks? Do you hire chefs with and without a culinary school background?
JT: I went to CIA. It depends.
You need to work in this business before you go, and if you do go,
pick a good school or forget it.
AB: Who are some of your mentors?
JT: Daniel Boulud – he
exposed me to the brigade system and a high level of cuisine.
AB: What advice would you offer young chefs just getting started?
JT: Knock on doors. If you really want it, you will find an opportunity. You should over-shoot your goals – if someone asks you to of ten things, do twelve. If they ask you to come in at twelve, come in at ten. Always comply with your chef.
AB: Is there any ingredient that you feel is particularly under appreciated or underutilized?
JT Celery heart leaves: they’re bitter, fresh, and have so
AB: What are a few of your favorite flavor combinations?
JT: Smokey, sweet and salty, like smoked paprika, chocolate, and salt.
AB: What’s your most indispensable kitchen tool?
JT: My combi-oven, because
I don’t need to be here twenty four hours a day. And my Pacojet.
AB: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created of borrowed and use in an unusual way?
JT: Freeze drying: I use the freezer to remove moisture and concentrate flavor.
AB: What are your favorite cookbooks?
JT: The Craft Cookbook by Tom Colicchio.
AB: What are your favorite restaurants-off the beaten path-in your city?
JT: I go to Buford Highway for the real deal stuff: Pho 96 for pho and China Delight for dim sum.
AB: What is your philosophy on food and dining?
JT: Dining has replaced church in a lot of people’s lives. It’s an experience. They don’t just go to eat anymore. As for food, I appreciate the complexity of simplicity.
AB: Which person in history would you most like to cook for?
JT: I would like to cook for James Beard because I love his sensibility. I would like to experience Ferran Adria’s cooking.
AB: If you weren’t a chef what do you think you’d be doing?
JT: I’d be a wine maker, a musician or a farmer.
AB: Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years?
JT: I’d like to be carving out a niche for our style of cuisine with other businesses.
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