Interview with Kentucky-Tennessee Rising Star Chef Philip Krajeck of Rolf and Daughters – Nashville, TN

by Caroline Hatchett
February 2014

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.