There is a Global shift in recent years in regards to the way we think about our food. We are giving more thought to where our food comes from, how it was raised, grown, slaughtered and what affect it has on the planet and our lives. I myself have recently stopped consuming land animals and dairy as part of my diet. Mostly because I feel that consuming these animals supports the deplorable, inhumane treatment that goes on in the factory farms all over the world; not to mention the negative environmental impact. I have limited my diet to vegetables, fruit, grains and seafood.
As a Chef I have tried just about every diet available. I have done this in order to have a better understanding of how certain foods affect my physical and mental being. The latest journey has yielded the most incredible results. I have lost twenty five pounds in the first two months and I feel better than I have in years. With this change in diet I have lowered my blood pressure and according to my wife, stopped snoring. I wake up every day without the bloated feeling I have said good morning to for so many years and I don’t have that morning brain fog any longer. My mind also feels much sharper.
This new perspective has also been a rewarding experience creatively. After so many years of featuring the protein on the plate as the star, I am now challenged with showcasing vegetables, grains and vibrant plant-based sauces. It has allowed me to learn more about cooking and expand my repertoire tremendously. This is a win/win for me and I encourage all Chefs to give it a shot, even if you’re not on a plant based diet. I now sell a traditional entrée feature as well as a plant based feature every night. I was surprised to find out when I compared sales that it was dead even. Even diners who eat meat are ordering the other option and they all comment positively.
I have written in a past blog about eating humanely and responsibly. Since then, I have read a tremendous amount of data and research, watched documentary after documentary and I have landed in the place I am today. We all make changes in our lives at some point. We don’t always adhere to them but I can speak for myself when I say that I feel that what I am doing and the way I think about what I eat will be a lifelong commitment to stay healthy and care about the animals we share our planet with. I hope at some point everyone will give some valued thought to the positive impact a simple change can have.
Born in Burbank, California, Chef Bill Schutz moved at a young age to the small fishing town of Point Lookout on Long Island, New York. As a teenager, he worked in restaurants as a Dishwasher and Cleaner before moving his way into the kitchen of a local seafood spot. There, he discovered his love for cooking. It wasn’t until a meal at renowned Bouley Restaurant in New York City, that he followed his dream. The meal at Bouley deeply inspired Schutz so much that his waiter offered to introduce him to Chef David Bouley. Their lengthy conversation led to a discussion about cooking, an offer to review his resume and ultimately hire him as a line cook.
Chef Bouley served as Schutz’s mentor, fostering his talent while Schutz worked all stations in the Kitchen. When the original Bouley Restaurant closed in 1997, Chef Bouley sent Schutz to Paris where he spent time staging in three Michelin starred kitchen’s – L’Arpege and La Cote ST. Jaques. When Schutz returned to New York to be with his family, he was offered a job as executive Sous Chef at the famous LaCaravelle. After his time at LaCaravelle, Chef Bouley asked him to rejoin Bouley as Chef de Cuisine. He has also spent time in many kitchens in Spain, Italy and Singapore.
Schutz now lives in Huntersville North Carolina and is currently the Executive Chef-Partner of Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse and Mandolino’s in Davidson, N.C.
People often ask about the origin of a restaurant concept. “What is the story behind it? What does the name mean?”. I’ll tell you a little bit about our newest adventure – Mandolino’s (Flatiron’s sister restaurant).
Michael Orlando is one of the principal owners of Mandolino’s, as well as a gifted musician, most notably a Mandolin player. I, myself, grew up in New York eating every kids favorite food, Pizza. I fell in love with Grandma style pizza which was invented on Long Island. Grandma Pies are rectangular in shape and have a great dough with a bit of crunch. My brother in law, Nick Angelis, perfected this pie at his NYC restaurant Adrienne’s Pizza Bar, which the New York Times says “is the best in New York City”. I approached Mike with the idea of opening an Artisan Pizzeria and the conversation started. Mike Orlando, Jason Tognarina, (GM/ Managing Partner) and myself began looking for a good name for the restaurant. We brainstormed and really couldn’t nail it down. One day in a casual conversation Mike said “How about Mandolino’s, Its Italian for Mandolin”. Boom!! There it was. Perfect. So, the idea of tying in the musical influence and a Family Pizza recipe got the dough ball rolling!
That’s the story. We look forward to introducing to you what we are so passionate about!
Chef Bill Schutz
It is very important to me to know precisely where the product used in my cooking comes from – whether it is grown, caught or raised. This should be a major responsibility of all Chefs. I recently started sourcing my chicken from Springer Mountain Farms out of Mount Airy, Georgia. Springer Mountain Farms invests a lot of time and money in raising their birds to be as content, clean and stress free as possible. They work closely with the Humane Society and Scientists to insure the best quality of life for their animals. I am an animal advocate & I love food. That may sound contradictory, but it is essential to know that the animals that are being raised for my cooking and YOUR consumption, are being raised happy – and living healthy lives. If you choose to take this approach, It will benefit us all. This is certainly not something you can say about these mass chicken producers! I am proud to feature SMF Chicken on my menu.
Be a responsible Chef, build good relationships with the people that grow and raise your food and be aware of what exactly you are putting on the table.
-Chef Bill Schutz
Jason T here to chat about my recent trip to Napa and Sonoma!
I was lucky enough to spend the last week visiting Sonoma and Napa Valley vineyards in California searching for inspiration for our next wine menu. For me, wine has always been an experience in faith. Shopping for wine for the restaurant we are told stories of faraway vineyards and wine makers with no emotional attachment to the bottle other that through smell and taste. Someone would give a testimonial regarding the wine; “one of my favorites, you have to try this wine”, or “Wonderful wine from …Insert region here”. This experience in California was so much different. To be able to meet the winemaker, stand in the vineyards, taste the terroir (the earth’s impression on the grape) and visit the cellars to taste the next vintage straight from the barrel creates a level of respect and emotional attachment to the wine I have never had before.
Sonoma evoked memories of Italy (or what my mind predetermined Italy should feel like, I have never been), old world rolling hills, chateau so expansive and posh it made my mouth drop as I drove on to the properties. Wines so big and luscious that the palate just craved more with each sip. Cabernet, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc were the staples of the area. Sonoma was the antithesis of commercial. I was in northern Sonoma, and would sometimes find it hard to get a cup of coffee. We (my wife and I, on our first escape without kids in 15 years), would venture out for 15-20 minutes in search of breakfast each morning with limited options in the area. The drive was not difficult to stomach though, views so beautiful I imagined them only in movies. Mountains rolling along the scenery, trees long and drooping over narrow roadways blotting out the sun, with vineyards every few miles on either side of the road. We visited Ferrari Carrano & Alexander Valley Vineyards during our one day touring Sonoma.
Napa represents everything great about the wine business. Every piece of the spectrum, vineyards on mountain sides, vineyards on flat valley floors, elite chefs and restaurants, a commercially concentrated region predicated on accentuating their one staple commodity.
The valley floor is flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain Range on the western and northern sides and the Vaca Mountains on the eastern side. These legendary mountains help to create what only 3% of the whole planet can replicate… a Mediterranean Climate. The perfect growing conditions for grapes. Ancient volcanic earth is soil that dominates the valley floor, and produces an old-world impression on the wine that sets the table for some of the most expensive grapes in the world second to only the famous Bordeaux region of France.
We visited: Round Pond in Rutherford, Crocker and Starr in Saint Helena, Italics Winegrowers in Coombsville, and Honig in Rutherford. Cabernet is king in Napa and it always delivers in highly alcoholic and fruit forward wines with bombastic tannins.
I am full of ideas, insight and inspiration for our next menu… please come and ask me about the trip, I would love to share the stories of our journey! ~Jason Tognarina
It’s the time of year when we anticipate the farm-fresh veggies that will be coming our way in the spring time… but they’re not ready… not yet! At this time of year, I feel lucky to get to work with Harmony Ridge Farms to get in some heartier vegetables like kale, turnips and radishes. BUT, I have to say, my favorite things to cook in winter are celery root (Celeriac), parsnips and mushrooms.
I love roasting parsnips and celery root and also making purees with them – they accompany a meat or seafood beautifully. I often sauté mushrooms too, because they bring a wonderful earthiness and unique texture to a plate.
Here’s to those spring veggies that are on their way… but I will continue to delight in the bounty we have today!
-Chef Bill Schutz
Happy New Year, friends! We’re so grateful to be a part of this Davidson community and we’re looking forward to a fun-filled 2017… with lots of celebrations, date nights, family dinners, meet-ups, and lunch gatherings.
BUT, now, before we get to the fun stuff, we have resolutions, don’t we? I know they can be hard to keep… so I wanted to highlight some of our delicious salads for you. Pictured, is our Kale & Quinoa salad with Kale, Quinoa, Candied Walnuts, Shaved Pecorino, and Honey Vinaigrette. I think you’ll also enjoy our NEW fried goat cheese salad with Sunny Creek Farm’s Field Greens, Beets, Red Onion, Pecans, and White Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Love your Brussels Sprouts? This ones for you… our warm Brussels Sprouts salad with Dried Cranberries, Shallots, Bacon, Pine Nuts, Champagne Vinaigrette.
Come join us, we’ve got you covered so you can eat smart and delicious-ly!
Whenever you can brag about a friend’s accomplishments, you may as well do it. And it’s my turn. Our Managing Partner here at Flatiron, Jason Tognarina, has successfully earned his Sommelier Certification.
He has long made wine a big part of what we do well here at Flatiron, and now, after months of studying and taking his two day exam… he has the pin, the knowledge, and the ability to help you understand more about our wines.
The exam was in Greenville, and he had to test on 32 different wines and be able to identify the grape varietal, region, sub region and vintage. Impressive stuff! We’re glad he’s on our team, and I’m sure he’d always be happy to steer you toward a delicious bottle to accompany your lunch or dinner.
One of my favorite parts of working in the kitchen at Flatiron is getting creative and switching things out on the menu. I absolutely love it. Right now we’re working up some new Fall menu items including this delicious Crispy Portuguese Octopus. I’m serving it with fingerling potatoes, micro cilantro and Chile Dressing. It will be available starting this week. I hope you’ll love it!
Students and faculty, welcome back to one of the most charming, inspiring small towns in America. If you stayed around here, you know summer was a hot one, but a delightful one… and filled, for us, with a trip to NYC, lobster nights, new menu items and our new complimentary monthly wine education night, (KnoWine), that’s held the first Tuesday of each month.
It’s been fun, but we love how the energy changes around here with Davidson being filled with excited young minds getting accustomed to a new home.
We’re glad you’re here. Come visit when you can… for lunch, dinner, dates, coffee, or drinks if you’re 21+.
Enjoy the start to a new year, see you soon!