One of the best perks of being involved in the food world, the people I meet. Truly incredible, creative, chefs that cook the meals and run the restaurants we all frequent. One of my favorite Chefs has to be Steve Thurston. Currently, in charge of all things, food at the German Schnitzel Haus. Chef Steve chatted with me while he chopped vegetables for the dinner service.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in New York, Rockland County.
What brought you to Jacksonville?
My wife at the time was from Jacksonville; we moved to Gainesville for two to three years. After a series of life-changing events had taken over, my wife wanted to go back to Jacksonville, and I followed.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
When I was sixteen, my first job washing dishes, but the bulk of my experience came from my time at Café Biagio in Connecticut. The chef there was one of the most talented women with whom I have ever worked. When I first came to Jacksonville I was employed at Marker 32 with another strong woman chef; what I learned from her, there is nothing I can’t do.
How do you define your style of cooking?
I think I have been naturally gifted to make things work and continue to work on developing my technique. Once I begin building a dish, the flavor is an integral part of my process. I attempt to bring something new and different to the table each time I create a new recipe.
Do you have a signature dish or a favorite dish recipe you like to cook?
The Pretzel! I dislike making them, but it is the recipe I have become known for. So I am going to hold on dear to it and make it the best pretzel each time.
You often offer a Chef Special Menu on the weekend as well as the traditional German menu. How do you develop these dishes?
Two things, I try to remember where I am, Jacksonville and who my clientele is. Anything I put on the specials menu is for me; it keeps me growing as a chef perfecting my skill.
Are there any hidden gems on the menu that get overlooked?
The Berlin Burger, many people totally miss the fact we produce some fantastic burgers, hand-shaped fresh ground meat.
If you weren’t cooking what would you be doing?
It would be something related to music.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming a chef?
Don’t do it! You have no idea at a young age what you will have to sacrifice to do this for a living. One has to ask themselves “is the juice worth the squeeze”? Working eighty or ninety hours a week plus all holidays leaves no time for life with my family or for me. There is no balanced life in this profession.
Death Row Meal?
A slice of Pizza from Napoli in New York.