Inside Bar Tartine: Switching It Up in the Kitchen

by Rachel Willard
Shannon Sturgis
November 2012


Staff Meal Details:

Sous Chef Ross Wunderlich weighs in:

Staff meal food costs:
"We do not typically cost out our staff meals. We use product that seems to make the most sense. We tend to use food left over from service to ensure new product for the next day," says Sous Chef Ross Wunderlich .

Size of Staff Meal:
6 to 15 people

Time of Staff Meal:
Between lunch and dinner shifts, anywhere from 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Favorite Staff Meal:
"My personal favorite that I ask for: pickled skin sausage and fried rice. Sometimes we have blood sausage," says Wunderlich.

Worst staff meal Ever:
"At my old job, whenever we have new interns or line cooks, we would throw them under the bus and say 'this one is on you!' It was not that it didn't taste good, it just wasn't creative—always some kind of bruschetta with an egg or proschiutto scraps. That got old," says Line Cook Adam Ross.

Many staff meals are the sum of slapped-together protein trimmings and inexpensive sides, leaving very little to the imagination and little room for input from staff. But Chef Nick Balla’s crew at Bar Tartine always finds a way to keep things fresh—cooking what they want to eat rather than what’s simply lying around.

Sous Chef Ross Wunderlich and his Co-Sous Chefs usually switch off to create the day’s meal, making dishes that are easy to prepare yet highly craveable. The chefs find themselves serving up favorites from fried chicken to sautéed eggplant, and getting creative with what products are available to create dishes like Wunderlich's rye pan loaf bread with Padrón Peppers, Cucumbers, and Aïoli.

Rye pan loaf bread with Gruyère cheese, Shishito Peppers, Cucumbers,  and Aïoli
Rye pan loaf bread with Gruyère cheese, Shishito Peppers, Cucumbers, and Aïoli

When staff indicates it’s time to change up the flavors, the chef turns to the line, where the next set of cooks share their talents and palates to craft different delicacies. “We also take the time to cook special dishes for people with different dietary wants and needs. We have a lot of fun with it,” Wunderlich says. And no matter who prepares the meal that day, the crew always prefers to "go heavy on the spices." Whatever the taste of the day at Bar Tartine, the cooks know their cravings will be calmed and that they’ll go into service with a satisfied stomach.