1. Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
"My life wasn’t really based around food growing up, at least at home. It was a lot of TV dinners, fast food, the occasional restaurant meal (very, very occasional). It was moreso at my grandmother’s house in Philadelphia where I saw a lot of home-cooked food and went from being a really picky eater to adventurous."
2. How has your grandmother's cooking influenced the menu at Birdie G's?
"She would always make matzo brei, which is matzo dipped in egg batter and fried up with schmaltz. A lot of times it’s kind of done on the sweet side and served with some jelly, but that’s not how she did it — hers was savory but it was very simple with just the matzo and the schmaltz, lots of salt and pepper and that was it. We have here a dish called Hangtown Brei which is a cross between matzo brei and hangtown fry (a classic San Francisco dish that's basically an omelette with oysters and bacon). With ours, the matzo brei is cooked in schmaltz with the matzo and eggs and then on top are fried oysters, grilled pork belly, and hot sauce hollandaise. So it’s blasphemous, very rich, very decadent, and very delicious."
3. Is incorporating meaningful dishes from your past a major part of the story behind the menu at Birdie G's?
"There are dishes on the menu that are based on some of my chefs' memories as well. The chicken scallopini is named after and based on something my chef Brittney's mom would make as a kid; different chefs have different things on the menu that are kind of their stamp on it."
4. Since we're talking about the inspiration behind Birdie G's, how has your daughter — the restaurant's namesake — influenced the restaurant?
"I like to have a lot of actual reminders of her here, whether that’s the picture she did that's stuck to the wall with tape or the apron she keeps here. We’ll go and walk through the kitchen when she comes in — she likes to wear her apron, so when she comes here it’s there if she wants to wear it."
5. That's adorable. Has Birdie started cooking in your home kitchen yet?
"Birdie loves to bake and she pretty much demands to help. She’ll want to put her apron on and get up on her step stool so she can be on the same level as the counter. She likes to stir things, whether that’s by hand or the mixer.
6. Amazing. Going back to your restaurant kitchen, you're known as a "chef's chef" who promotes and elevates the chefs in his kitchen by doing things like naming menu items after them and setting them up for success. In one sentence, how would you describe your team?
"I have 100% faith in my team and Brittany, who is kind of the glue that holds it together."