Congratulations to Chef Joy Crump for being our Chef of the Month for July! See what Chef Crump has been cooking up at FOODE!
Where were you born?
I was born in Pittsburgh, PA.
Where do you work and where are you based?
I am based in Fredericksburg, VA. FOODE and Mercantile, my two restaurants, are both in Fredericksburg. I’m usually at both restaurants all day every day.
What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
My grill. I think fire touching food is very basic and there is no substitute for it. I put anything and everything on the grill- fruits, vegetables, protein, herbs, anything at all!
What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
I think sight has become my sharpest sense. I have learned to look at everything very macro. I can walk into the room and see what’s going on with 30 employees while at the same time seeing if something is cooking too long. I can see the vibe and see if were in trouble in the kitchen all at once.
What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Be patient with your growth. What’s getting young chefs now, is they expect everything to happen overnight and to receive a lot of rewards for their work. Reality is the very opposite in this industry. The culinary profession is very thankless. You are on a team and not singled out, but if you work hard, before you know it you will be standing out.
What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
There is a discipline that goes along with being a good chef. I think every chef should be making lists to never forget the a,b,c,d that goes along with every day. Having a list for every task helps build your habits in the kitchen. I live and die by list making, there is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off!
What does good food mean to you?
What we try and do is remind people what they love about a thing, a dish, or even Thanksgiving. We like to remind people what they remember and love about that thing and introduce something new in how we present it to them. We give you a little different twist on your everyday food, but it should still feel familiar and comforting.
What trends do you see emerging in the near future?
Definitely hyper local ingredients. Chefs are now counting on themselves more than farmers to provide their products. People want to feature things that they have grown themselves, which now has become everything- the meat they have cured, cheese they have made, herbs they have grown. People don’t only want what is made just in your zip code, but what is made in your kitchen. Chefs are reinventing their list of ingredients based on what they can accomplish in their own space. Everything we have in our restaurants, we make in house. We are working on moving to another location where I hope we can smoke and cure more than we have been able to in our own commissary where we have a small smoker now. We like to smoke not just proteins, but also oils and vinegars, fruits, cheeses and even seasoning, especially salt. Being able to accomplish this on a bigger scale makes me very happy!
What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets)
Having pockets and a nice fit are definitely the most important to me in finding a chef coat. I have to make sure that the things I need and use every day are in there- my phone, sharpie, notebook, thermometer. I find a lot of chef coats that look great, but with no pockets to hold anything. I’m not a small chick, but I don’t like wearing men’s chef coats. They’re usually too boxy for me. I want something that is fitted and a women’s cut, but I hate when they are super girly and bell out at the bottom. Just a simple chef coat with a tailored fit and pockets is what I like.
Favorite ingredient to work with?
Salt! Food is asleep without it and awakens with it. People are afraid of salt and afraid to overuse it. We have a fast-casual restaurant where you sit down and if you need a refill, you get up and get it for yourself. We do not put salt and pepper shakers on the table, but we will put them out in the common area. Our goal is to make the food perfect and for the customer to not need extra seasoning.
Favorite City to dine out in?
That changes all the time, but I think right now it would be Nashville. Every year my business partner and I go to a new city to check out the food scene. Last year we went to Burlington, Boston, Chicago and Nashville to eat our faces off and try as much as we could. The food scene in Nashville was so cool and community based. It was somehow so friendly and down home, while being refined at the same time.
Best Dish you have ever made?
You’d probably have to ask someone else that! But my favorite dish that I have made would be my fried chicken. My mom recently passed away, and she taught me how to make fried chicken. To me, family and things that reflect that for me are most important. My fried chicken even won an award for us and nothing can top that! Our chicken and waffles are the best in Virginia and I’m so happy we could share that recipe and tradition with a lot of people.
Place you eat most often on your days off?
I go between Soup & Taco and Tarntip Thai. Tarntip Thai has really authentic, yummy, cheap food.
Person you would most like to cook for?
Probably my mom. If I could cook for her, that means she would still be here.
What made you decide to become a chef in the first place?
I have a big family. I have 5 brothers and sisters and my parents got divorced when I was 3. My siblings and I all traveled a lot back and forth because my parents lived in different cities. We had to get on a plane and travel to each other, which was really expensive. We didn’t have money to buy each other gifts for every occasion, so we stayed at home and cooked together. It was such a great expression of love when we could all be together with family. Holidays were huge in our family! Thanksgiving is the day you don’t dare miss and it gets bigger every year than the year before. Cooking together is what you do to say I love you and we cook our asses off! I didn’t realize until I was in my 30s that I could do what I love for a living. It really is a real extension of my family for me.
What is new on your DVR?
I’m watching a show called S.T.R.O.N.G! Sylvester Stallone is the executive producer and Gabrielle Reece is the host. It’s awesome! They pair up women who are on a journey to find their strength and their inner bad-ass with top male trainers. It’s not just a weight loss program, it’s really to help empower these women who have gone through bad circumstances.