Last night the Food Network show Chef Hunter focused on the Chicago restaurant Quay. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it is a competition between two or three chefs chosen by recruiter Carrie McCully, to see who is better suited to become executive chef of that particular restaurant based on their performance in the kitchen.
Last night we saw Cara Thomson , who at the time of filming was the executive chef of a small restaurant in Alabama, face off against Dan Marquis, the sous chef at Quay. Although the result wasn't much of a surprise since Quay leaked the news prior to the show airing, Marquis has now "officially" taken the role of executive chef as of last night. Eater chatted with Marquis to see what it was like to do the show and what he has in store for Quay.
So why do a show on national television? Why not just give you a shot to prove yourself since you had assumed much of the responsibility already when the old executive chef left?
Not sure. I think the owners didn't think I had enough experience. They wanted someone with more executive chef experience. The show allowed me to prove myself and they wanted to make sure that I was capable of doing the whole job.
How was it performing your job on television?
A little difficult to maneuver around with cameras in your face. After an hour of it you just try to focus on what you are doing.
Do you think you were you portrayed accurately?
Yes, I think so. I ran the kitchen exactly how I do on a Saturday night. It was very busy but the ticket machine wasn't necessarily overflowing like they showed. Some parts were a little dramatic, but overall pretty typical.
What can we expect to see on the menu now that you are in charge?
The dishes on the show are all on the menu now. Crab cakes, field green salad, rabbit sausage, and they will be mainstays for the winter months. The menu will change seasonally, four times a year. I like to use local product as much as possible. That's the way I was taught to cook. It will be very seafood driven. I've also added more entree choices. New tuna dish, whole trout, swordfish au poivre. I was raised in Princeton, Illinois and have 20 acres to start my own heirloom produce. I've been working really hard on my days off in Princeton and I'll be using all of the stuff I grow in the restaurant in the spring.
Given the size of Quay and the many different areas it has (sports bar, outdoors, atrium, dining room) how will you make sure everything flows?
I changed the menu yesterday. The menu is very upscale, and I want everything to filter off the dinner menu but you can order off any menu in any part of the restaurant.
Has the show had an impact on the restaurant already?
Yes, so many more people have been following the show than I would have ever thought. Random people come in and talk about the show and what's been happening on the television. I knew other chefs watched the Food Network but didn't realize how many people had interest in what went on behind the scenes.