Interview with New Orleans Rising Star Chef Ryan Prewitt of Pêche

by Mary Choi
February 2016

Mary Choi: Who's your mentor?
RP:
Donald [Link] for sure without a doubt. I’ve worked with him the longest, and he’s my partner here. I was at Herbsaint for five years, 2005 to 2010, and he’s the best.

MC: What's your favorite tool?
RP:
 A hairdryer (to stoke the fire and to keep my hair proper).

MC: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
RP:
I think, overall, it’s been a lot of fun and a rewarding experience. Our actual challenge is to always do better, always move forward and to stay with our mission and become a part of the Gulf seafood movement. I feel like it’s a large part of what we’re doing now, but it can always be done better. There’s always this compulsion to change things, like if you’re not changing you’re moving backward. But for Pêche I just want to keep up the relationships with the people pulling the stuff out of the water to get the best of the best from them. The ingredients are everything. It’s challenging—there’s lots of temptations—but it’s our primary priority to have the best and freshest fish.

MC: What's your favorite dish you've ever made?
RP:
 This is an almost impossible question to answer, but the whole grilled fish at Pêche comes as close as any other. It encompasses so much of what we do here, from the sourcing, preparation, cooking, and presentation.

MC: What’s your five year plan?
RP:
The Gulf is such a diverse place, and there are so many different species that we can’t even get because of the infrastructure. That’s my long-term goal: to go out and fish stuff myself. Our goal is to get these Gulf oysters nationwide because I’m a firm believer of the rising tide movement. For us to have a better product, you have to help them [the fishermen] with their market. So, if anyone asks me for a source, I’ll gladly share with them to help the fishermen out. 

MC: What's your favorite cookbook?
RP:
 Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertoli and Zuni Cookbook by Judy Rodgers. Both of these books remind me of being a young cook in San Francisco, and take me back to the food I was cooking and eating at that time. I’ve since read hundreds of other books and found many that I’ve liked, but when I need inspiration, I almost always flip through these two.

MC: Where would you most like to go for culinary travel?
RP:
I really want to go to India and Vietnam. It's going to happen at some point.