Public House’s New Executive Chef Chris Wade Talks Baseball, Food and Married Life

| April 6, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Chefs Sarah and Chris Wade. Photo: Louis Anthony PhotographyThe San Francisco Giants home opener game will be at AT&T Park on Friday, April 13. Public House is the ballpark’s restaurant and pub with a full bar and over 75 different beers and ales. Just in time for game day, Public House has streamlined its menu and food options. Customers can use a secret door leading from the restaurant into AT&T Park, with a “Grab-n-Go” food and drink station. Chris Wade, 28, is the new Executive Chef for Public House, and is working with Chef Traci Des Jardins and Sous Chef Jorge Lumbreras to update the beer-friendly menu.

Before taking the helm at Public House, Wade worked at Prospect, Boulevard, Postrio and for the Plumpjack Group. The California Culinary Academy grad also worked with Patrick Campbell and Barbara Lynch at No. 9 Park in Boston; Massachusetts is his home state. After No. 9 Park, he moved to Philadelphia to work for Michael Solomonov at Zahav. It was from Philadelphia that he and his wife Sarah, a pastry chef, decided to return to San Francisco to work at Prospect. The Wades have been married a year and a half and live in the lower Haight.

On Monday, April 9, he will be cooking a special “Welcome Back, San Francisco Giants” $49 three course prix-fixe dinner at Jardinière, which is Des Jardins’ French-influenced Civic Center restaurant. Three artisanal beers selected by Bar Manager Greg Stone are included, and Passover and vegetarian options are available. Wine pairings will be available on request. Reservations can be made at (415) 861-5555.

King Street View of the Public House BarChefs Chris Wade and Traci Des Jardins

Here is the menu:

Zuckerman’s Asparagus Salad,
Macaroni and Cheese Croutons and Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette
••••••••
Beer Braised Pork Cheeks,
Toasted Barley Risotto, Fava Beans and Crispy Onion Strings
••••••••
Old Rasputin Brownie Sundae,
Chocolate Covered Potato Chip Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce

Bay Area Bites interviewed Chris Wade in person and via telephone.

What was it like coming up with new Public House menu items (sliders, sandwiches, pretzels and potato chip crusted mac & cheese) that are game day friendly?
I wanted to make it easier for people to order, so that they could take the food with them to the game.

I’m trying to make the food my own. That’s kind of hard, but getting there is also fun. I’m making the food a little more technique based. So it’s still frying, but done in a more thoughtful way. (Wade uses leftover potato skins rather than Panko crumbs to make his croquettes, a green way of thinking that gives the fried exterior a pleasant crunch).

You’ll see stuff that I enjoy eating: deviled eggs and mac and cheese. My favorite things to make here are the 4505 Meats sliders and the mac and cheese. (Wade’s recipe for Potato Chip Crusted Macaroni and Cheese Bites is featured below).

Deviled Eggs, Pico de Gallo and BaconChorizo and jalapeno fritters with roasted jalapeno salsaMini Corn Dogs
Soft pretzel bitesPeanutsPotato chip crusted mac and cheese square with other bar bites

What will you do with your staff to prepare for the baseball season?
The Bay Bridge series on April 2 and 4 gave us a chance for “all hands on deck” practice runs. We overstaffed those days so that the crew can see what happens on game day. It’s a good way to produce things in a timely fashion and to get grouped.

How did you and your wife Sarah meet?
We met at Postrio, when she was working pastry and I was working the savory stations. We’ve worked together for Barbara Lynch, and then in Philly. She’s the pastry chef at Prospect.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We’re both big beach people, so we went to Kona Village, to a place that had no TVs. We had a relaxing beach trip together. It was later knocked out by the tsunami.

Ravi Kapur is one of your mentors. He is one of the reasons you and Sarah returned to San Francisco. What was the move from one coast to the next like?
I was texting and keeping in touch with Ravi after working with him at Boulevard. Sarah and I were visiting SF from Philly for our friend’s wedding. I met with Ravi and talked to him about Prospect. Sarah and I were toying with coming back here anyway. It turned out that Prospect’s Sous Chef had to get back to New York. To begin working at Prospect right away, I left Philly two days after our honeymoon. Sarah puts up with quite a bit, because I had to rush out here to make it happen. I slept on a friend’s couch for one month while she moved everything out here. We spent our first month as a married couple apart.

What are your favorite spots to shop for food?
Whole Foods, for seafood.
I go to the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market, too. Baby fava beans are my favorite thing of the year. They’re only here for two weeks out of the year.

What are your favorite off-night spots?
We go in phases. Right now, it’s an Asian phase. Halu is good, for all the yakitori and ramen. We live four buildings away from Toronado, and I like to support it. I’ve been going there for a long time. My favorite day off is to go to Rosamunde, then Toronado, and then to Amoeba Records.

We go to Maven a lot for the drinks, since we know the folks there from Prospect. They have a pretty decent selection.

What is your favorite meal to have with your family?
My favorite day of the year is Thanksgiving, because of the food. One year, we did a cassoulet Thanksgiving, with family, which is less traditional food-wise. We’ve had good Thanksgiving meals with restaurant friends, too.

We try to eat healthy at home, so it’s a lot of salad, grains, fish, and chicken. We do love Fatted Calf’s steak, meat, and pork chops. Their porchetta was really good… we ate it in less than five minutes, with veggie sides.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Ice cream. I could eat a quart every day. I love all flavors of ice cream. We serve Humphry Slocombe at Public House. At home, I get Ben & Jerry’s full fat ice cream. I love soft serve, too.

What else is new?
We’re in the process of getting a chocolate lab (dog). I had Labrador dogs as a kid. Sarah had a golden retriever, but that’s too much for me… all that hair.

Potato Chip Crusted Mac and Cheese Square with other Bar Bites
Potato Chip Crusted Macaroni and Cheese Square with other Bar Bites

Recipe: Potato Chip Crusted Macaroni and Cheese Bites with Tomato Jam

Makes: 30 bites (enough for 10 people as an appetizer)

Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:
2oz butter
2oz flour
2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup of each cheese grated, white cheddar, provolone, Gruyere, and Monterey Jack
1/2 tsp. cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste (approx. 1 TBSP salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper)

Instructions:
Make a roux with the butter and flour in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. At the same time bring the cream to a simmer in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once the cream is hot, carefully whisk in the roux and allow to cook for 5 minutes to thicken. Add the grated cheeses, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Turn the heat down to low and allow cheese to melt to a smooth consistency, whisking regularly to prevent scorching. Once cheese is melted and homogenous, turn off heat but keep sauce warm.

Macaroni

Ingredients:
1 QT raw elbow macaroni
1.5 gallons water
1 cup salt

Instructions:
Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil. Add macaroni and cook for 2 minutes less then directed to on the package. Once cooked strain and rinse with cold water to stop the macaroni from cooking.

Once macaroni is cooked, fold it into the warm cheese sauce and cook together over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula. When macaroni is tender remove the pan from heat and slowly pour macaroni and cheese mixture into an 8×10 inch sheet tray or baking dish that has been generously sprayed with nonstick spray. Place in the refrigerator to cool overnight. The next day cut around the edge of the pan to help release the block of macaroni and cheese and unmold it onto a cutting board. Portion into 1.5 inch squares and return to the refrigerator until ready to bread.

Breading

Ingredients:
1 cup panko
1 cup crushed potato chips
1 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs beaten

Instructions:
Combine panko and potato chips in a food processor and pulse until chips and panko are roughly the same size. Take portioned macaroni and cheese one at a time and toss lightly in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg mixture, and then toss in the potato chip/panko crust.

Once all bites have been breaded cook them in a fryer or Dutch oven filled with rice bran oil set to 350F until crust is golden brown (approx. 4 minutes). Strain onto a paper towel and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve immediately with your choice of dipping sauce (we use a spicy tomato jam) or as a crouton substitute with a salad.

Tomato Jam

Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic
1/4 white onion
1 TBSP olive oil
1 QT crushed tomatoes with juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 1/2 TBSP Tabasco sauce
1/2 TBSP kosher salt

Instructions:
Slice the onion and garlic and sweat with the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once tender add the chopped tomatoes cayenne and salt and cook over medium heat until the tomato liquid has reduced by 1/4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before blending in a food processor with Tabasco sauce.

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About the Author ()

Mary Ladd is a freelance writer and event professional based in her hometown of San Francisco. Her writing has been featured in SF Weekly, Tasting Table, the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere. She has shuttled Anthony Bourdain around town and mastered the art of properly loading a catering van in a flash. Mary has eaten the world’s hottest burger and loves to cook and eat. Follow her at @mladdfood