Interview with Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Chefs Phillip Perrow and Caleb Shriver of Dutch & Company

by Meha Desai
December 2014

Meha Desai: Why did you start cooking professionally?
Phillip Perrow:
 I started off washing dishes as a summer job, and then in high school I knew I didn’t want to go to college. I did some research into culinary arts and then gave it a shot. I worked in the summer before culinary school at a couple of spots, like The Frog and The Redneck with Jimmy Sneed. I was 17 and I learned a lot. [Sneed] really changed the game for Richmond. 
Caleb Shriver: Food was a big deal in my family. My brothers and my dad hunted. I ended up working my way up in my hometown. My brother was waiting tables at The Coach House and he asked if I was serious about cooking. He told me that they had a three-year apprenticeship, and I went for that. After that I was in it.  

MD: Who's your mentor?
PP:
 Dale Reitzer at Acacia is a mentor. 
CS: Kurt Fleischfresser, and Jeff Ryan is my second mentor. I worked with him in Chicago.

MD: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
PP:
We’ve kind of been known to stick to ourselves, but we know everyone and we’re on good terms with everyone. The community is tight here and we’re a part of it. It’s just our first tear, and we were busy here working out the kinks and all. Now, we’re beginning to open up and have more time. We definitely take stages. That’s huge for us. We look within for inspiration. If you look out too much, you get sidetracked and become derivative. That’s why we’re not your traditional Southern restaurant. Still, we are conscious of what everyone else is doing. When Sub Rosa caught fire, they came to us with all the stuff they couldn’t use. We had a bake sell and donated all the money to them. 

MD: What's your five year plan?
CS:
We would like to expand. We’ve got a tight kitchen. We’ve got millions of ideas and it’s all about timing. Conceptually, we keep talking about all sorts of options. On Saturdays from noon to 1:00, we do hot dogs. There’s a full line down the street. We use seasonal ingredients, like shrimps and chorizo, for example. We use one kind of sausage per week, and we’ll sell packs of dogs for people to grill at home as well. 

MD: What is your sustainability ethos?
PP:
We used reclaimed wood for the bar counter. Our table tops and bar tops are pressed recycled paper. The benches are church pews. We recycle. We recycle oyster shells to help regenerate. We give compost to farmers here in Church Hill. There’s a local cab company that runs on bio fuel and comes to pick up our oil. We use local products to support local farms and use sustainable fish when we can. Our flours and herbs come from a cute old lady Nancy Baker.

MD: What is your philosophy on food?
CS:
We try to get great ingredients and utilize them creatively. It’s about the meeting of the minds. It’s about communication, sharing ideas, and working with farmers. We try to respect products and we always try to create something familiar yet different. We’re a neighborhood restaurant, but we’re different because we want to create an experience. 

MD: Describe your cuisine in one sentence.
PP:
Seasonal, regional, familiar, but different.