Mav Chefs 2015: Q&A with Chris Sills of Rostizado
There’s something to be said about enjoying the atmosphere at a restaurant. No matter how delicious the food (and our 2015 Maverick Chefs can work magic), the dining experience is about more than what we eat. It’s about how we eat it.
Chris Sills (pictured right), co-owner of Rostizado and Tres Carnales with Chef Edgar Gutierrez (center) and Daniel (aka Dani) Braun (left), puts his over 25 years in the food and hospitality industry to good use creating a front-of-house experience that matches the authentic Mexican cuisine they serve. We had a chance to ask him the tough (and not so tough) questions, about working at Rostizado. His answers prove that he, like Chef Gutierrez, is a Maverick in his own right.
Why did you go into the restaurant biz?
I started in the industry in the late ’80s because a group of my friends were working at a busy restaurant that’d become a local favourite. I instantly fell in love with the fast pace and camaraderie. I moved to the front house after a few years for the tips and that got me through theatre school. I stayed in the business because by that time, it was what I knew best and where my passion was taking me.
What are you trying to do with Rostizado that you didn’t do with Tres Carnales?
We’re trying to elevate the Mexican street food concept. It all happened very organically. The second we saw the space with its timbers and exposed brick, even before construction began, we knew we had to dress up some of our favourite dishes. We’d seen many similar types of modern Mexican cuisine throughout Mexico and the US and wanted to be a part of it.
What is your inspiration for Rostizado’s drink menu?
It’s all tequila, mezcal and rum based. We wanted to stick with Latin American spirits as a base and then dress them up with global modifiers, like vermouth, aperitivos, and house-made aromatics and botanicals.
Do restaurants need bar menus to survive these days?
I don’t think so. We don’t have one. I think a section with light plates, available throughout the restaurant, is sufficient.
What’s your approach to managing the bar/restaurant? Do you have a certain “style” you adopt?
Ensuring the guests are having the experience we set out to create is role number one. That starts with guest satisfaction and goes all the way down to spray-painting away paint chips from the walls. I try to inspire our staff to strive for the best possible service by working with the management team to make sure everyone has the tools they need to answer questions, explain the plates, and go over and above in every situation.
How do you, Dani and Edgar keep Rostizado (and Tres Carnales) at the forefront of the Edmonton food scene?
By refusing to compromise the quality of the experience. By being there for our guests and our community. By staying involved.
What’s your favourite drink to make (and why)?
I like the simplicity of a shaking and mixing together a perfectly balanced margarita [see recipe below]. It’s the best choice of cocktail build to put on a little show and to satisfy the taste buds.
What do you usually have in your glass?
Oh, everything! Haha! As far as spirits go I love Nicaraguan rum, tequila and all variants (i.e. cachaça, mescal). I prefer Latin American and Asian beers, as well as Spanish and Portuguese vino.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Rostizado?
The people: our guests, our staff and the other folks working in the building even … and the food. Oh boy, do I love the food!
Margarita de la Casa
- 1 1/2 ounces of Corzo Blanco tequila
- 1/2 ounce of triple sec
- 3 ounces of fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1 ounce of simple syrup (or a table spoon of caster sugar)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously for 60-90 seconds. Strain over ice into a salt rimmed glass filled with ice and garnish with a lime twist.