2014 Kentucky-Tennessee Rising Star Chef Philip Krajeck of Rolf and Daughters
Rolf and Daughters
700 Taylor Street
Nashville, TN 37208
The son of a NATO employee, Philip Krajeck moved to Brussels when he was 10—impressionable and hungry, with a relatively unadulterated palate. The city and its endless charcuteries, patisseries, and farmers markets worked their magic on the young Krajeck, showing him what a life lived in good food could be.
When Krajeck returned to the southern United States to attend college, he was shocked at the lack of food options and the comparatively underdeveloped artisan culture. So he hopped a plane to Switzerland, where he attended hotelier school, moonlighted at a nearby kitchen, and voraciously read cookbooks.
Doggedly pursuing excellence in his own cuisine, Krajeck excelled in stages at some of the world’s best kitchens. And he received early and repeated acclaim for his efforts. While chef de cuisine at the Water Color Inn & Resort’s Fish Out of Water in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, he earned four James Beard Award nominations before his 35th birthday.
Krajeck opened Rolf & Daughters in Nashville in 2012, blending his European training and uncompromising attention to detail to make plates that are honest and unabashedly full-flavored. Krajeck has that something extra—a knack for pushing ingredients far beyond their average capacity for good. And the country is taking notice: since opening, Rolf & Daughters has earned n “Best New Restaurant” nods from Esquire and Bon Appétit.
I Support: Green Fork Academywww.greenforkacademy.org
Why: GFA teaches children about preparing meals that are healthy and understanding where their food comes from, gardening, etc.
Interview with Kentucky-Tennessee Rising Star Chef Philip Krajeck of Rolf and Daughters – Nashville, TN
Caroline Hatchett: What’s your favorite tool?
Philip Krajeck: Spoon
CH: What tool do you wish you had?
PK: Combi oven
CH: When hiring new cooks, what’s you favorite interview question?
PK: I actually do not ask a lot of questions in an interview. I prefer to get a cook in our kitchen. He can prep and cook, and by the end of the day, I know if he is a good fit or not.
CH: Where did you learn to make pasta?
PK: I went to hotel school in Switzerland, and the cooking was predominantly Italian. I learned by making handmade pasta for staff meal. I also worked for Joel Antunes in Atlanta. I've always been into it. I have every book.
CH: What is your favorite cookbook?
PK: Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli
CH: What’s your most important kitchen rule?
PK: Work clean and fast.
CH: How big is your team?
PK: We have 34 people on staff with four am cooks, six pm cooks. It’s small but we still cook every pasta to order; we don't have such a big menu. We’re also pretty much whole animal based. We get half a hog, pastured veal, and a quarter of a cow in at a time. The kitchen is going almost 24 hours; there are only 3 to 4 hours when there's not someone in the kitchen.
CH: What’s your favorite dish you have ever made?
PK: One of my favorite dishes to make at home is a simple roast chicken with a vegetable and whole grain salad. My wife is Greek and when we cook together she always brings her Greek influence. My favorite dishes are always made at home with my family.
CH: Where do you most want to go for culinary travel?
PK: Southeast Asia. I am really interested in the flavor profiles of Southeast Asian cuisine. I use elements of it in my cooking and would love to travel there and learn more.
CH: What’s your five-year plan?
PK: It wasn't our goal to be anything more than a thoughtful neighborhood restaurant. I want to figure out how to grow and maintain our identity. It gives us the ability to play more and do more exciting things. Right now, I’m excited about dinners with chefs from other cities; it’s happening right now in real time.