Interview with 2013 Philadelphia Rising Star Chef Will Zuchman
Caroline Hatchett: What inspired you to pursue cooking professionally?
Will Zuchman: I worked as a dishwasher. One of the first influential people [in my craeer] was Douglas Rodriguez. I helped him open Alma de Cuba. After, I started to commit to New York City—I went on my way but always stayed in touch.
CH: Did you go to culinary school?
WZ: No culinary school. I got the bulk of my foundation at Lacroix. I worked for Vetri for free, and for Batali in New York City. I learned more traveling than I did in the kitchen, experiencing food abroad.
CH: How do you go about creating a dish?
WZ: I usually think about each component and ingredient, how they work together, the technique and pickup for restaurant purposes. You have to make it so you can pick it up.
CH: What’s the toughest challenge you have had to overcome?
WZ: Trying to do the food I want to do for the volume. We do everything from scratch.
CH: Have you taken any steps to become a sustainable restaurant? What are those steps?
WZ: We have instituted a company-wide recycling and composting initiative. We have our grease picked up and refined. We practice a total utilization of product approach. We support local farms and businesses whenever possible.
CH: What does success mean to you?
WZ: Customers leaving happy. It's fulfilling.
CH: Where do you see yourself in five years?
WZ: I would like to find myself in a place where I don't have to answer to anyone. I can be as creative as I want to be. I'm creative, I like to draw, and go to the market.
Chef Will ZuchmanAlma de Cuba
1623 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103