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The Experts: Kate Bristol

On my first day working in a restaurant kitchen in 2016, I showed up absolutely terrified and immediately questioned my decision to work back-of-house. As they showed me around the kitchen of Restaurant 415 and introduced me to various cooks, the kitchen manager, Kate, came up to me with a big smile and gave me her hat to wear since I forgot one (really prepared on my first day). She seemed super sweet, but had this intimidating, badass confidence to her which explained why she was in charge of all those dudes. After I had been working there as a dishwasher for a few months, she pushed me to try out the line despite how scared I was. I remember being so upset that she scheduled me 4 new stations in one week during our busy season without training... but man, was that week fun! She knew I would love it, and eventually, I moved up to be her assistant manager. It was so much fun working with Kate and she was what inspired me to lead others and be confident in kitchens full of men. Not many women (including myself) can rock the 3-inch hoop earrings and lipstick..while running a line on a busy Saturday night! I look forward to seeing where life takes her! P.s., she has one of the most incredible voices. Many can attest that my tone-deaf covers of songs don't exactly pump people up at work, but her voice carried in that kitchen! Like some serious Amy Winehouse vibes. Anyway, check out what she has to say below!

Q: Tell me about your background in the food industry and something you hope to achieve in the future

A: I started out in the industry bussing tables and washing dishes. I was immediately enamored by the hustle of the restaurant and all of the ins and outs that made it function. I hope to keep learning how to make amazing, simple food that makes people happy. And these days - I hope to do it safely.

Q: What do you think are the most underrated ingredients? Overrated?

A: I think in modern America, simple, fresh ingredients handled correctly is underrated. The beauty of a local heirloom tomato with a sprinkle of salt and fresh cracked pepper is unbeatable. While I think there's a time and place for it (like sitting at a pub), I think fried food is pretty overrated.

Q: If you could only have 5 kitchen tools, what would they be?

A: A sharp knife, microplane, a nice-shaped spoon, mandoline, and a well-seasoned cast-iron pan.

Q: Top 5 cookbooks?

A: 1. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

2. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

3. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

4. Good Meat by Deborah Krasner

5. Taste and Technique by Naomi Pomeroy

Q: What are the biggest lessons you have learned working in the industry, and what do you wish would change about it?

A: Kitchens have taught me so much, from teamwork, to focus, to getting my ass kicked, to finding a moment of zen chopping vegetables. I am constantly learning something new about taste and technique as well as human beings and how we relate to each other through food. Being in the kitchen helped me come out of my shell and be more confident - and take criticism better. I, like so many cooks and chefs in the world, wish that the BOH was compensated better and didn’t have to break their backs to get a decent paycheck. 


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