Why This Restaurant Critic is Not Afraid of Losing His Job to Yelpers

In the age of social media platforms and user-created content, is there still a place for the restaurant food critic as we used to know it?

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman, sits down with Jason Sheehan, a former professional chef turned food writer— a venture that lead him to win a James Beard Award and later author several books.

Sheehan, who’s now a restaurant critic for Philadelphia magazine, likes “the idea of someone going to a restaurant, having something good or having something awful and then telling people about it.”

“There is a part of me that likes Yelp and other platforms like it. I like the notion of the democratization of restaurant criticism…I have no problem with that whatsoever,” says Sheehan. “What kills me is the weight that it’s given…”

Listen in to this entertaining episode as these two chefs/writers debate the role of media and restaurants in the modern age and why Jason Sheehan is not worried about losing his job to Yelpers!

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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The Rebel Yell: Saying "No" To Diners

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with the unapologetic Chef Norrawit “Wit” Milburn, who claims “I don’t do hospitality, I just make bomb-ass food.” Wit, as he prefers to be called, is the Chef and Co-Owner of Delaware’s Ubon Thai Cuisine, Kapow Kitchen and two food trucks, alongside his wife.

The two restaurant industry veterans share their insights on how to go about encouraging “picky eaters” about trying new foods and tips for chef and operators who are not sure what they should serve kids at restaurants.

One of the questions our host, Chef Berman, poses is “Is it our job, is it our responsibility to educate customers? Is that a fool’s errand? Is that a higher calling that maybe we just can’t answer to?”

Chef Wit eloquently responds: “As a business person? No. But, as a Chef? Yes!”

Take a listen to this fun episode to make sense of all this information and laugh alongside these two cooks as they help us understand a chef’s creative mindset!


Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Why the Food Scene in “Forgotten Cities” Is As Important As Those in New York, Chicago, and L.A.

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Chef Derek Stevens— a Steel City “burning star,” as he calls him, for shining bright in the local food scene. Stevens is the co-owner and executive chef of Pittsburgh’s Union Standard. Both gentlemen are Pittsburgh-natives and they focus their conversation around those cites that seem “forgotten” in the food world.

The two agree that as chefs they are always on the hunt for honest food. Chef Stevens is candid about his favorite Pittsburgh food spots, highlighting establishments like LeoGretta located in the Carnegie neighborhood and ran by Chef Greg Alauzen; as well as, DiAnoia’s Eatery in the Strip District and ran by Chef Dave DiAnoia.

“When I talk about those chefs… when I eat their food, I think ‘Damn, I wish I could cook like this guy’ you know?,” says Chef Stevens. “It’s really heartwarming in a way, you know? They really got it figured out. And sometimes they’re thinking the same thing [about other chefs].”

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation, Chef Steven’s thoughts on the resurgence of downtown areas in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee, and how to cultivate interest for a local food scene in a “forgotten city.”


Show Notes:

  • 1:55 - Chef Derek Stevens’ Background

  • 4:07 - Favorite Pittsburgh food spots

  • 7:37 - Comfort Food vs. Fine-Dining

  • 12:47 - Cultivating Interest for local food scene

  • 17:19 - Incubators and the food scene

  • 23:13 - Labor Shortage

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Not Female Chefs... Just Chefs

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Chef Mollie Kaufmann of the restaurant Little Pearl in Washington, D.C. to shed some light on the “controversial” topic of being a female leader in what has been a predominantly male-led industry.

“I think there are a lot more female chefs than people realize, and I think there are a lot more female chefs behind male restaurateurs than people may realize,” says Kaufmann.

She goes on to explain that the way traditional kitchens operate does not need to change to accommodate a chef, just because that chef happens to be a woman. The only thing that needs to evolve is the industry's ability to even the playing field. To lead a successful kitchen, there must be mutual respect and a positive work environment. Chef Mollie explains that it hasn’t been an easy journey but that has not stopped her from becoming a lead chef at a highly rated restaurant.

“The end goal is the food and your experience as a guest, and it shouldn’t matter if a man cooked it or a woman cooked it or whomever,” says Kaufmann.

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation with Chef Kaufmann about her journey and her advice on how to grow into a flourishing chef and team leader in today’s industry, regardless of whether you are male or female.

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Worse than getting burned? Losing your mind! Why Mental Health Matters

In today’s Chef AF episode, our host Chef Jim Berman speaks candidly with Chef Curtis Gamble of Pittsburgh’s Station restaurant about a very important topic not only within the restaurant industry but in society today.

Mental Health.

The two talk about the importance of having some sort of anchor outside of the work place, establishing open lines of communication about each individual’s goals, and simply adopting healthier lifestyle habits.

“I think on a day-to-day basis, as I’ve grown older… I’ve kind of calmed down, you know? To be totally candid, quit drinking, things like that… I’ve managed to keep more of a calmness about the kitchen work, a calm kind of intensity to it?,” says Chef Gamble. “And I think that’s translated well to keeping communication open… allowing people to be like candid with how they feel about certain things… the work loads that they have and things like that.”

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation and learn some tips about how to better communicate with your fellow crew members!


Show Notes:

  • 2:26 - Meeting Chef Curtis Gamble

  • 3:50 - How is your head?

  • 5:47 - Work/Life Balance

  • 13:06 - BOH Hospitality

  • 16:59 - How to get your crew to feel comfortable to talk?

  • 23:40 - Advice for young chefs?

  • 26:49 - Blue Collar Work

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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