CHEF Q & A: Shane Schaibly, First Watch

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Shane Schaibly, who graduated at the top of his class at Johnson & Wales, has been the Corporate Chef and Vice President of Culinary Strategy of First Watch since 2014.

What’s your favorite local restaurant other than your own? Pizza Bruno is always a good stop when I’m on that side of town. Ingredient quality and honestly just fun, kick-ass menu items makes it worth the wait every time! If we are feeling fancy, Ravenous Pig never disappoints, and Swine & Sons is always a stopping point for a quick bite and charcuterie if we are having any sort of party or gathering at the house. Soco in Thornton Park is always good for an updated take on Southern classics too!

What’s your go-to meal at home? Whatever my wife wants! We cook a lot of fresh seafood: mussels, shrimp, redfish, snapper, grouper. Having such a plentiful bounty on both sides of our state makes it easy to get ahold of some amazing fish year-round. We also spend a lot of time at local farms or farmers markets so whatever happens to be in season, that’s what we are cooking!

Where do you shop locally for interesting ingredients? I’m on the road a lot and have stumbled on some really cool markets in my travels, I pick up ingredients from everywhere. International Food Club on LB McLeod is a good stop for some European and Middle Eastern pantry-loading, and we love Asian cuisine at home so 1st Oriental is always great for finding unique imported items.

Which kitchen gadget could you not live without? My knives. I recently had a custom set made by Jonathan at DoghouseForge.com, and they are as functional and perfect as they are beautiful! They are located just down the road in Lakeland and did such a great job on the finished product. I get excited each time I pull one out of the block. The 3-knife set handles almost every single job on the prep list! Also, I couldn’t live without my Kitchen Aid stand mixer – which has gotten a lot more use with my kids, Jack, 7, and Olive, 4, who absolutely LOVE making fresh pasta or cookies or really anything in the mixer. It allows me to give them separate jobs and get everyone involved in meal prep!

What was your favorite bagged lunch as a kid? I was big PB&J kid. Comfort food, man! Chips were always a treat. To this day, I still enjoy a good bag of kettle chips!

What’s your most guilty junk-food pleasure? I’m a sucker for toffee and good ice cream… Late night tacos or fried chicken are also things I can’t really pass up if the mood is right!

What 3 things are in your fridge at all times? Good butter, a solid variety of cheeses and a few different craft beers. Why do I need them? Because butter, cheese and beer are life!

Is there anything else you’d like to share? While I am the guy who gets to wear the fancy Chef coat and do the interviews, the success of our restaurant is 100% the result of our amazing and passionate team members! They are the ones out there grinding, making sure every customer leaves happy and paving the way for our future. So hats off to them! They deserve all the credit.

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