Sunday, February 16, 2014

Smokin' in Waterloo

Facebook is one of those things that makes the world very, very small. Even smaller when you join networking groups and start to connect with other people who share your likes and dislikes. Take food, for example. I have met so many amazing food bloggers, writers, foodies, even amateurs like myself who just enjoy meeting people and talking about food!

That's exactly how I got to know Dan Rote. Through mutual friends, a shared laugh at a joke- I can't even remember, but you get to chatting with someone, realize you live in the same state, know a few of the same people and strike up a friendship. Dan lives clear across Iowa from me in Waterloo. We have shared many conversations- football, the crappy weather, the differences between men and women, and food. Dan's current area of interest is barbeque but I will let him fill you in on that. Let's get to know Dan-

1. How did you get your start in the restaurant business?  I have been in and out of the restaurant industry since 1976. I started at a diner style restaurant as a dishwasher, moved to grill cook and learned the world of comfort food.In the late 70s I moved to a pizza and sandwich shop, which served truly hand-tossed pizzas. After that, I managed a pizza joint. I actually got out of the restaurant business in the 80s and spent 14 years in college pursuing other careers. But I kept cooking for friends and family.

2. Opening a barbeque restaurant in Waterloo, Iowa seems a little risky. Iowa is not a hot spot for good barbeque- what made you decide to go this route?   In 2012 I had the opportunity to open my own brick and mortar restaurant in a building I had plumbed while working and a plumber and since the last non-commercial barbeque joint in the Cedar Valley, it was a no-brainer.

3.You mentioned before that you have participated in competitions- tell me about that experience.  In 2004 I started dabbling in barbeque and by 2005  had my first smoker and was holding test cook for 50-75 friends every other weekend in my backyard. I entered my first competition in 2005 and did well. Didn't win the huge prizes but it lit the fire. In 2008 I took the CBJ Class (certified barbeque judge) in Kansas City and started judging in 2009, at the same time refining my barbeque by making and bottling my own rubs and sauces. I only compete in 1-3 competitions a year now, when it fits in with the million other things I do.

4. I've watched a lot of the Pitmaster shows- some of those guys are SERIOUS about their secret rub recipes. Do you have Dan's Secret Rub (and no, I am not going to ask you whats in it)?  I do- I currently have 5 rubs and 6 sauces that are available by special order. 

5. I've seen LOTS of pics of your amazing smoked foods. They look soooo delicious. Tell me about the WORST disaster you've had in the restaurant kitchen.  This one is TOUGH. I have had a few disasters in the kitchen. I am into molecular gastronomy and it's a science that is hot or miss at times. I love to bake, and that is a science also. Creating baked goods that look and taste great can be challenging unless you do it every day. I also cure and prepare meats and sausages and that can get hairy also until you figure it out. One of my biggest faux pas smoking meat was when I had 100 pounds of meat in the smoker. Normally my smoker is a set it and forget it unit I built myself. This day was not the case. I went to get some ingredients and was gone less than an hour and when I returned to the restaurant the smoker was going wild! I had not cleaned the grease from the bottom and it caught fire. Needless to say, I ruined 100 pounds of meat. Second one I can think of was using molecular gastronomy. I need to make a raspberry POWDER but what I ended up with was raspberry GLUE. It was so sticky even the robocoup couldn't turn.

6. If you weren't smoking meats, what would you be cooking? If you weren't cooking, what would you be doing?  When I'm not curing and smoking meats I can usually be found creating comfort food dishes. Most everything you see me post on Facebook every day is what I am cooking as a private chef. I generally make 2 to 6 servings. I love to create new dishes that are comfort food related with a fine dining twist.

7. You're a Denver guy- do you plan to head west at some point and make your mark on the culinary scene in Denver?  Eventually I will move back to Denver. The Denver culinary scene has already seen some of the things that I create. I send food coast to coast for friends and have friends in Denver that are chefs- we trade ideas and recipes often.

8. Who would you say are your influences or favorite chefs ? Influences and favorite chefs- I have MANY. I would say Guy Fieri, since I'm a comfort food/diner guy. I get a lot of ideas from his show Triple D (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) and he is also a barbequer and does a lot of cool things with barbeque, such as pulled pork egg rolls and sushi. The places that he visits are real places that operate everyday offering simple, yet complex foods that make people smile.

9. Do you have a favorite ingredient to work with? My favorite is beef and second is pork. With those two proteins you can rule the world.

10. You're on an episode of Chopped. You open your basket. What are the worst possible 4 ingredients you can imagine having to cook with? Oh man- durian, stinky tofu, rose water syrup and brains of any kind.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the interview-I may have missed it, but what restaurant does Chef Dan have in Waterloo? We want to stop by sometime. And I agree, Facebook is a great place to connect with people about food.