October 21, 2011 -
Q+A with Our Resident Culinary Visionary, Andy Strizak
As Director of Operations for Spice of Life, Chef Andy Strizak is taking a step out of the kitchen and into the role of leading a business he believes in, right alongside his good friend and longtime colleague, Chef Ben Bebenroth. The two go back to the days of high school and worked together in the kitchen at Parker’s Bistro. Some years later, Spice of Life Catering Co. was catering Andy’s wedding to pastry chef and owner of Lucky’s Café, Heather Haviland, another force behind the local food movement. Wouldn’t you just love to spend Thanksgiving with these two, or any day for that matter?
After a long run preparing some of Cleveland’s most delectable dishes, Andy is excited about the transition. Read on for the Q&A with the man whose spice collection we envy.
Q. You recently left a highly coveted chef position and joined forces with Ben. What was it about Spice of Life that lured you in?
A. Ben and I have known each other for a long time. We’ve worked together in the past and it was something that was familiar. I knew it would be a good fit even before I came on.
Q. What is the one dish that will follow you wherever you go?
A. When I worked at Parker’s, I put my own twist on the Beef Liver dish. People still ask for it!
Q. When you visualize Spice Kitchen + Bar, what do you see?
A. A fun, casual place where you can get really good food and a nice drink and not to have to break bank. The kind of place I’d like to eat – not intimidating or stuffy.
Q. A major proponent of the Spice brand is eating seasonal – a relatively new concept for many people. How would you advise those ready to make the switch to buy locally in the approaching winter months? Are there any seasonal fruits or vegetables to look out for?
A. The pickins’ are slim in the winter months, but if you can find a local Farmer’s Market or hoop house, look for squash, brussel sprouts, kale, collard greens, swiss chard and spinach, which are all great, seasonal comfort foods. I recommend jarring and freezing when things are in season. At Spice, we freeze berries when they’re at their peak and jar hot sauce, tomato sauce and salsa.
Q. What is the most satisfying thing about your job?
A. What I’m most proud of is being part of a company that I believe in – what it stands for, who they support and who they do business with. It’s something to feel good about.
Special thanks to Full Bloom Photography for this great Andy pic.